The Trust Factor is critically important in life. There’s a lot in the news nowadays about trust, or the lack of it, when it comes to our government leaders. Folks all over America are doubtful of the motives and capability of many of those we have elected to serve us. We have a real ”crisis of confidence” in our country and there doesn’t seem to be much prospect of it getting better. How did we come to this place and how can it be fixed?
TRUST is a very important ingredient in life. It is present in all healthy relationships; marriage, friendship, business, parent/child, government and between leaders in the international community. Trust is foundational to the orderly and productive functioning of life. Without it we live in uncertainty, doubtful of the word or actions of the other person or country. President Reagan said, concerning agreements with other countries, that we should “trust but verify.” There is much wisdom in that idea; trust that the other person (country) will keep their word but understand that trustworthiness is proven by action consistent with one’s promise or agreement.
While I have strong opinions about the politics and direction of my country, my primary purpose for blogging is to address issues of family life. So, for the next several posts I want to address the TRUST FACTOR as it relates to you and your most intimate relationships; your family.
I believe the family is the basic unit of our society. As the family goes, so goes the world. Families produce children and children grow up to serve many different functions in our world. Some become congress people, some senators, some become Supreme Court judges and a few have the honor of becoming President of the United States.
Everyone comes from a family of some type. But every family has the responsibility to attempt to instill the character values which make a person trustworthy. Character matters and there is no place where it matters more than in your family.
What is Parenting About?
Perhaps the most central question we need to ask ourselves as parents is: “What is parenting really about?” In other words, what is the main role or central purpose I, the parent, need to fulfill in relation to this child that has been entrusted to me?
Unfortunately, for some reason, this may be an area of concern which some parents never consciously consider. Many are so caught up with their personal agendas and the busyness of life that they don’t take time to talk about, much less put into action plans related to their primary role as a parent.
I would venture to say that many parents don’t have much of a clue as to what their main purpose as a parent really is. With our society’s rapid advance toward materialism and secularism it is no wonder that we are losing our sense of what life is really about.
This secular mindset defines what many think life is really about. Consequently, they rear their children in this godless approach to life where all values are relative and human life itself is becoming less and less valuable.
What do you think is the bottom line in parenting? What is parenting about to you?
Have you ever tried to work a box puzzle without the box top to guide you? Have you tried to go somewhere you haven’t been before without a GPS, map or good directions to help you? Frustrating isn’t it?
Many things we do in life require some amount of direction to ensure a chance at success. Parenting your child is no different. Assuming we will be good parents simply because we have brought a child into the world is foolishness. That assumption alone indicates we don’t have much of a clue about where we are going and what we need to do.
For centuries the North Star served as a constant nighttime guide to give direction to mariners at sea. They navigated the dangerous waters and steered their vessels according to the dependable heavenly bodies. To do otherwise would be the height of arrogance and foolishness, putting their whole mission in jeopardy.
Is there a North Star for parents to follow in rearing our children? Yes, there is. This concept is the focal point of the meaning of life. To understand it and live by it brings blessings to you and your child. To ignore it dooms you to a journey without a trustworthy guide to do one of the most important things a human being is ever called on to do, parenting a child.
Do you want to know where to find the true North Star for parenting? Begin by reading the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40.
Successful parenting starts with you, the parent. Your character, who you are deep inside determines what you will value most and how you will live. Character also determines the kind of parent you will be.
So, who are you? What values are at the core of your being? Are you kind and gentle? Selfish, arrogant or prideful? Are you a know-it-all or are you open to learning new ways of thinking and doing things? Most importantly, does your character resemble God’s view of who he is capable of making you?
God knows each of us just as we are. He knows our secrets, strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, He also knows our potential and wants us to continually grow toward being that person. Like a loving parent, He hopes for and dreams of the fulfillment of our greatest potential.
What is God’s view of the potential you? He sees you as becoming more and more changed into the character of Jesus, his son. Paul captures this great vision of us in Romans 8:29 ” For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son ….”(NIV).
In the larger passage from which this statement comes, God promises to work in every circumstance in our life to promote this growth of Christ-like character in us. He is able to use all the difficulties, pain and disappointments to shape our character. Our character, formed around faith in Christ, is his greatest concern for us.
Where do you start with this change of character which will gradually transform you and the way you parent? You begin with the surrender of your life to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you haven’t already made this decision, I encourage you to begin this wonderful journey of forgiveness and grace right now.
Where does successful parenting begin? Does it begin at the birth of a child? Having a child makes you a parent but it doesn’t make you a successful one. Does it begin with reading books on child development or parenting strategies or techniques? While this can prove helpful, good parenting must begin somewhere else.
Then, where does successful parenting begin? It begins with the person you see in the mirror. That’s right. Good parenting begins with the person you are. Who you are, your character, is the most important issue in parenting. No matter what you “know” about parenting, no matter how prepared you think you are to be a good parent, the real and most important issue is who you are as a person.
Character is the ultimate issue of life. It is not what we accumulate or how successful we are by society’s standards that are most important. All those we leave behind when we die. But character is another matter. That is who we are and is all we will take with us.
If you have been entrusted to rear children you should pause to consider the meaning of your existence and seek to mold your character to that purpose. In practical terms this means to commit our life to God and his lordship in our life. Living out this commitment means to accept Christ as your savoir and grow in his likeness and to genuinely treat others as you want to be treated. This will bring your life into conformity with Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:34-40.Once you have committed your life to live out life’s true purpose, then and only then can you guide your child toward that purpose. Think about it. Do it for yourself and your child.
One of the greatest challenges of human relationships is to keep our personal stuff from creating unnecessary issues. In other words, we need to learn to own our stuff. For example, if you are person who always needs to be in charge, you can make others uncomfortable with your need to control or have things your way.
Refusing to recognize and deal with our “stuff” may cause others to have little to do with us. However, our children cannot easily avoid us and may choose unhealthy behaviors to deal with our stuff.
Children often adapt unhealthy reactions to a parent’s angry tirades, abuse, anxiety or any number of other issues. One example of this is the child who becomes a “pleaser.” This child doesn’t dare do or say anything that might create discomfort for someone even if he/she has been highly offended by their actions.
How does a child come to be this way? Most likely they learned early to stuff her feelings out of fear of setting off a parent’s explosive temper. Their “pleaser” ways may protect them from the parent’s anger but can have a big downside. They may come to believe they can’t have strong negative feelings. So, feelings are stuffed or the person can become passive aggressive. Certainly, they can’t take the risk of expressing her feelings directly and openly. Continuing on this path of stuffing their anger may lead to avoiding all kinds of conflicts and develop very shallow relationships in life.
What do you think could happen an angry parent had becomes able to own their stuff? It would meant they could learn to apologize and the child wouldn’t have had to internalize the parent’s stuff. It would mean the child could grow up with a more balanced emotional life.
What stuff do you need to own? What, if any, unresolved anger or insecurity do you need to address so your kid won’t have to deal with it? If you don’t own it, it is quite likely your child, and perhaps others, will have to deal with it.
How does your child handle success or failure? Is there any connection to how you handle success or failure?
Your child’s view of his performance in school, sports, music, relationships and various other pursuits affects the way he sees himself. Obviously, if your child is able to have some level of accomplishment in these areas he gains confidence and, therefore, tends to feel good about himself. Over time the ability to accomplish may lead to venturing out into more challenging pursuits. All children like to accomplish and the feelings of pride and confidence that come with it.
You can greatly aid your child in this area by involving him or her in helping around the house. Your child wants to feel big and able to do important things. Start early to teach them to be a “helper.” Teach them to fold clothes, work in the yard, load the dishwasher and do various other tasks. Second, choose tasks they are capable of doing and congratulate them when they accomplish their work.
As you involve your child in helpful activities around the house you are doing several important things in addition to helping your child’s sense of himself. You are preparing him to learn to work. You are also demonstrating that families can and need to share in the work of the family. And, you are also preparing your child for the time he will become independent of you.
Defeat is difficult for all of us to accept. However,an occasional defeat can be a good thing if handled correctly. But, I’m not concerned here with the occasional loss of a game or getting a grade in school that is less than desirable. What should concern us as parents is a pattern of defeat which discourages our child to the point they feel hopeless. Your child can play on a team that loses every game but not have a defeated attitude about life. Why? Because other aspects of his life where he feels successful and secure can counterbalance occasional losses.
But, how do we create a balance which helps our child gain confidence without becoming prideful? Emphasize the the need to be grateful and recognize God as the source of our gifts and accomplishments. This will guard against inordinate pride and the sense that our worth is based on what we can do.