When my boys learned how to drive, so many of my friends with young children asked, “Aren’t you terrified they're going to go off and do something wild?” (How I wished I could make that face where one eyebrow jumps to the top of my forehead and the other stays normal.)
“Really? They haven’t done a ridiculously stupid thing their whole life. Why would they start now just because they can drive? I trust them.”
Trust doesn’t start when your kids pull out of the driveway at sixteen. It starts the first time you ask your child to do or not do something, and you meet them at the destination of their decision. Trust starts small and says, “You can believe me.”
We say: “I’ll be right here when you wake up from your nap,” as you lay their soft downy head in the crib. They think: “Will you be here?” We answer that question when they wake from their nap and snuggle their chubby little body in our arms.
We say: “You may not shout at me. You will go to your room until you find your talking voice.” They think: “Are you going to make me stay in here until then?” Yes, they stay in their room throughout the full-blown meltdown.
We say: “Your new school is wonderful. I went and looked all around. I met your teacher and she is amazing! I can’t wait to hear about all the fun you will have had when you get home today!” They think: “I’ve never been here before. Is this place ok?” They burst into your arms gushing with details and you smile. “I told you it was going to be great. You can trust me.”
Trust starts and ends with believing that what is said is going to happen. It begins in the little things that don’t have great consequences, but bears rich fruit years later when the stakes get raised.
When we say: “You can call me at any time to come pick you up with no questions asked.” They think, “I have options. I’m safe. No matter what, I can call home.”
When we say: “Be home at 11:00 with the car.” They think: “I need to be home on time so I can keep driving."
When we say: “I love you. You are one of the most amazing gifts God has ever given me.” They think: “I am loved. I am a treasure. I can grow and explore and wonder and ask and fail. And still, I am loved. I am a treasure.”