As a parent of a 7 year old, I learned a huge lesson about trust, that still is part of me.
Either I would pick up my daughter from school or she would walk straight home with a neighbor. One day, on the way home from school, she and her 5th-grade friend visited the plaza and ate candy.
Fueled by both a full dose of single-parent overwhelm, and triple guilt and fear related to having an unsupervised 7-year-old in the plaza, not affording the after-school program, and being a “bad” mother with a latch-key child, I was probably ballistic.
I felt I could no longer “trust her”.
It’s true – I couldn’t trust her temptation to hang out in the plaza with a fifth grader and candy.
I then realized that I could trust that she was still the same lovely child, who generally went to bed and got ready for school on time, did her homework, and had a beautiful heart.
The distance between home and school, including streets to cross alone exceeded age appropriate expectations. We never had discussed what to do if the older girl decided not to go straight home, or what it’s like to be encouraged to do something an older child
wants to do. We needed to talk, figure out consequences, and to work out a new after-school plan.
Looking back, the incident provided lots of opportunities for compassionate conversation and mutual learning about life.
As knowledgeable parents, we learn to separate a behavior from who the child is. Yet, as humans, we can forget. It’s easy to jump to conclusions that stereotype the other’s total being. We hear and see it daily.
I learned so much that continues to impact the way I look at trust:
• Take time to check-in – When I am honest to myself about feelings and what feeds them, I can avoid jumping to global negative conclusions. Feeling “right” is a sign I need to look inside myself and find what in me is being triggered. Nothing can be solved while triggered.
• Consider things through a developmental lens – This applies no matter what the age! Take the time to calm, look at the situation through all angles, including through the eyes of the other person.
• Clearly communicate needs and boundaries – When I sort out what part I don’t trust, where there is a problem, I can discern what I need to communicate about my needs and expectations.
• Remember what can be trusted – I trust the beauty of nature, the rising and setting of the sun, and humanity’s seed of light, that desires to be heard and understood, and wants to do well and experience love.
I can ultimately trust in life. It will continue to be my teacher. I will continue to learn from it, and with that celebrate it.