In the relationships between parents and children trust is a very important issue. From birth children look to their parents for guidance. For a blissful few years we the parents are the ultimate in our children’s eyes? They look to us to help them maneuver through life! Parents, doesn’t it feel wonderful when your child looks at you with eyes full of trust; sure that we know all there is to know in the world?This blind trust that children have for parents is unfortunately very short-lived. When our children go out into the world and encounter others who seem smarter than their parents, people who may contradict children may have learned to trust as gospel truth. These differing opinions brings parents to question, they can also erode the trust that has built up between parents and their children.
I was speaking to a counselor recently who said that the ideal time to have talks of puberty and such with children is before age 7/8 because they still have the idealistic notion that their parents know everything and can be believed. This is right before parents change from being the coolest people on earth to seeming like two-headed morons to their children. This is when the rolling of the eyes and the posturing begins. Now the authority on knowledge becomes an age mate called “Nani” (any male or female friend of your children’s). Now more often than not you will hear from your children, “my friend “Nani” says this and that” about every issue under the sun, the little genius! “But mum “Nani” says……” “Nani” is so cool she must be the authority on everything. How many “Nani’s” have I wanted to willingly strangle (not that they are bad kids, but enough already!). This is when we the parents un-cool and all become an embarrassment to our children and are avoided near friends, except where completely necessary, poor parents!
In my personal experience, my angel and I have been developing this trust thing slowly and gradually. We had our “Nani” moments and they almost drove me insane, but with quick and careful maneuvering and with trusting that I had instilled in her good judgment, we were able to get beyond her thinking of me as a complete moron, to actually being a person who knew facts and could be believed. The other thing I did was take the time to see life from my angel’s perspective. Being a pre-tween today is nothing like it was for us back in the day. Life is different, it demands more from them and they have access to a lot more information than we ever did at their age (face book, twitter, Google… etc. It is a different era and we must respect and embrace that). These pre-tweens are a lot savvier than we ever were and understanding this and taking time to know what sort of information is available to them is invaluable in understanding this new generation of pre-tweens.
The other issue with trust is that, yes we can regain our children’s trust after “Nani”, but we can also betray it and that also has profound repercussions as I painfully found out. A while back my angel shared with me a situation that happened at school, which involved some of her school mates behaving in an inappropriate manner. In short the situation was about a group of girls rejecting party invitations from another girl, by tearing up the invitations and throwing them in the dustbin. Luckily the giver of the invites had left the room so was saved the pain of witnessing the very obvious rejection. So our discussion was more about having broughtupcy (a word coined somewhere in the Caribbean where I spent some time). Behaving with good manners and grace as a well brought up child should. We both agreed that it is important to always be conscious and empathetic to others feelings though we may not like them.
Anyway so we had our discussion, then me and my big mouth and my assumption that other parents would advise their children as I would, shared my daughters information with another mother. Not good. Needless to say it was blown out of proportion the information made it back to school and to the group of girls in the worst possible way, and my angel ended up being labeled a snitch by her friends and ostracized for a while. Naturally, she blamed me for betraying her and I was in the dog house for a while. I felt terrible, I had inadvertently betrayed my angel’s trust and I had worked so hard for so long to nurture it.
I apologized and apologized but it was not enough. She said she forgave me, but I could feel the divide, from that point on for a long while, she was more guarded with what she told me. I was crushed, but I had brought it on myself. Luckily time really does heal all, and with constant reassurance and affirmation that I would never repeat the same mistake, we came full circle. I believe now that my angel does trust me again. From time to time she will tell me something and premise it with “and Mama please don’t share this with your friends and get me in trouble again”. I guess I deserve that, the way I see it, I would have to be mad to betray my angel’s trust again.
- Let us talk to our 7/8 year olds about some of these important issues that will inevitably confront them, because if we don’t then, it will be harder to talk to them about it later, and there are a lot of people who will be happy to tell them, hence eroding your power as parents.
- By the time our children reach their pre-tween years let us parents have confidence that we have instilled good judgment in our children, enabling them to separate fact from fiction.
- Let us build and nurture trust between us and our children, this is a work in progress please don’t tire of the exercise, no matter how futile it may seem, don’t give up!
- Pay attention to the world we live in now and accept and understand all the different nuances of being a pre-tween today in comparison to our own pre-tween years. What worked us back then will probably not work now.
- We must understand and embrace the information age and prepare to debrief our children daily as they are bombarded with all the information available to them.
- Respect the fact that this generation of pre-tweens is savvier and so we have to step up our game to keep up!
- Respect and trust your children so that they know what it feels like and they will give it back in return.
Inevitably it is all about trust, I have mine back with my angel and I intend to keep it!
Mother of Angel-tween
As a daughter of a single parent I have noticed that to keep a good and healthy relationship, you have to trust each other because if you don’t you might be in so much pain but you don’t want to tell because you don’t trust each other. I have been watching my friends lying to their parents and my mum’s friends lying to their children, and in the end they end up not trusting each other.
My mum and I will sometimes lie to each other or tell someone something that you have trusted them not to say, but we will apologize and make sure everything is okay and we might not trust each other for a day or two but in the end we find a way to make it the way it was before.
My advice to all the pre-tweens: Make sure you and your parents trust each other a lot, because trust really is an important thing.