Jeffosophy: a collection of possibly useful things I have learned over the years.



My boys slugging me during a hike. :-) 
My sons slugging me back in 2011.


What My Children Have Taught Me About Trust

Some years ago, when my youngest son was in his early teens, we had a talk about many things including trust. I cannot recall the context any more, but I do remember clearly that he said, "that's what I really want. I want to be trusted." What a trust inspiring thing to say! If he had said, "you can trust me," it probably would have planted seeds of doubt in my head. After all, can you imagine anyone saying, "you can trust me," and not losing a bit of trust in that person? But, because my son told me that it was important to him to be trustworthy, I felt he would make the effort to be trusted. And I trusted him on that. Indeed, I decided that day that I would trust both of my sons unless they gave me reason not to do so.

They are in their 20s now and neither has never given me reason to regret me decision or to doubt their trustworthiness.

But trusting children is not just about teenage mischief. It encompasses all aspects of childhood. Trusting children gives them self-confidence, pride and experience. Trust enables children to learn from their mistakes. Trust empowers. And trust comes in many forms.

Going Places

Allowing your young children to bicycle to a friend's house a few streets away requires trust. You need to trust that your child can remember the route, that she will stop and check for traffic before crossing roads. You need to trust her to pay attention.

Sending your seven year old child to a local shop to buy something for you requires trust. Again, you must trust that the child remembers the route, that she will watch for cars before crossing the road, that she will buy what you asked her to buy - rather than chocolates. You need to trust that she will not go off with strangers or run away from home. Parents reluctant to let children go out alone may fear that their kids will be abducted or hurt by someone with bad intentions. But, this is incredibly rare. Indeed, children are more likely to be abducted or hurt by family members than by strangers. Moreover, teaching kids not to take sweets from strangers and not to get into the car of someone they do not know, decreases the likelihood of abduction. In the USA, sadly, kids are more likely to be shot in school than while running errands for their parents.


One day, when my eldest was eight or nine, he want to bake cookies with me. I was busy, so I said, "Do you think you can follow the recipe in the cookbook?"

He reckoned he could. So, I entrusted him make the cookies himself, though we agreed I would deal with the oven. In the end, I didn't get a lot of peace to do my work as my son regularly ran into my office asking about abbreviations and what was the difference between a tsp and a tbsp (he used an American cookbook; he is more familiar with the metric system).

In the end, the cookies didn't really work out. I asked him why and he reckoned he forgot to add sugar. So, the cookies were not so tasty, But, he learned from his mistake and the next time he baked cookies, they were much better. By the third time, I even entrusted him with the oven.

Not long afterwards, I told a friend about this. She was astonished. "My mother would never have trusted me to do something like that at such a young age!" she said. And, indeed, it was a matter of trust, mostly that my son wouldn't hurt himself, damage anything or make too much of a mess. You might think that I was also trusting him to make cookies competently. But, that didn't really matter so much to me. I knew that if the cookies didn't work out, he'd learn something (as happened) and we'd only be out a few ingredients. Moreover, if he made a mistake and, instead of berating him, I asked him what went wrong, I reminded him that one can learn from mistakes.

Doing Their Own Homework

I always let my children do their own homework and only helped them if they asked for it (being bright, they seldom did). I later learned that a lot of parents go through each day's homework and correct it for their children, so that they would get good marks for the work. They probably did. But, they didn't learn to be trusted. When kids had to do longer term projects at school, some parents did most of the work of the project, so that their kids' results looked good. And, as a teacher told me, you could quickly see which projects the kids did themselves and which projects were done by parents.

Sure the projects done by parents looked slicker. But, at what cost? It told kids that their parents did not trust them to do the project competently themselves. What did the kids learn? They learned that they were not good enough to do the project themselves. They learned to remain reliant upon their parents rather than be capable and independent. They learned that when they needed to get important things done, they should rely on their parents. 

But, by trusting my kids to do projects themselves (even if the results looked a bit sloppy compared to work done by other parents), bicycle to friends' houses by themselves; bake cakes, do their own homework and take a public bus to school from the age of 11, I believe I empowered my kids to become independent, to solve problems and to take pride in their achievements.

And by trusting them as they became teenagers and young adults gave them confidence to make decisions and to take responsibility for their actions.

Always There for Them

Of course, trusting your children opens them up to making mistakes and even hurting themselves (emotionally as well as physically). So, it is important that they know you are always there for them to comfort them when they hurt themselves, to reassure them that you trust them and to talk about their mistakes so that they can learn from them.




* * *

Share your feedback, thoughts and/or questions

* * *

If you enjoyed this story, please share it. I would love for more people to discover our blog.

ShareFacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail    Follow meFollow me on Twitter

* * *

Return to top of page

* * *

My latest Articles

Rediscover Your Childhood Energy
Children tend to be full of energy that seems to disappear by adulthood. Learn how to rediscover it and recharge yourself. You'll feel better, more inspired and healthier


Deep Thoughts on Deep Fakes
AI tools make it possible to create convincing fake images and videos on order. This will have some interesting implications.


The Value of Comments Never Posted
When a social media post provokes you, I suggest you write a well thought out response - and then delete it.


Being Super Busy all the Time Is Impressive But Not Effective
We tend to admire busy people and look down upon the lazy. In fact, the lazy are often the most efficient and effective people.


Ukraine, Refugees and Why Ira Is My Hero
Russia's war on Ukraine is causing far more demage than statistics tell us. My partner, Ira, is doing her bit to help innocent victims of the war


All articles
Index of all the articles on this blog.


Return to top of page


My other web projects

My other web projects 100s of articles, videos and cartoons on creativity - possibly useful things I have learned over the years. reflections on international living and travel. - paintings, drawings, photographs and cartoons by Jeffrey


© 2021 - Jeffrey Baumgartner