Are You Too Trusting?

Are you too trusting? In the previous blog I dealt with the issue of transference and how our difficult experiences in the past can cause trust problems in our present relationships. There is a “flip side” to transference which we also need to be aware of because that can cause tremendous heartache also.

Let’s say you grew up in a family where you could absolutely trust the word and character of your parents. And, for argument’s sake, let’s say that you would admit to being a bit gullible or naive about relationships. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Here’s the problem. When you grow up with trusting relationships you may assume you can trust almost anyone. You trust easily and have a hard time thinking that people aren’t using you or not telling you the truth. You want friendships and a special relationship with someone of the opposite sex. However, what you my experience if you are too trusting is heartbreak and disappointment and that simply cannot trust everyone. This is a hard and cruel lesson but it can be very helpful.

How can it be helpful to have your heart broken or be betrayed by a “friend?” Hopefully, you will learn that, while you are a trusting and trustworthy person, not everyone is worthy of your trust. And by the time you are ready for marriage you will not make the foolish decision of giving your trust and love to someone who can’t reciprocate in kind.

Our trust needs to be given to someone who will treat it as a sacred gift. But, for this to happen, we must first value our trust and ensure we don’t just throw it at someone out of a “romantic” infatuation and desire to be loved. Guard your trust wisely.

What is Your Trust Quotient?

What is your trust quotient? Very trusting of others? Too trusting of some people? Distrusting of almost everyone?

How did we come to be who we are when it comes to the matter of trust? Since a good marriage and other important relationships depend on trust, it’s important for us to think some about these questions.

You may not have to search any further than your family of origin to understand why you trust the way you do. If you grew up in an environment that was emotionally stable it is likely you don’t have lots of trouble trusting others. However, if you grew up uncertain of the love of your parents, feeling you might be abandoned or that you had to earn their affection, you have probably struggled with trust issues. If you were a child of divorced parents this could also cause serious problems in trusting others. Abuse and neglect are also fertile soil for distrust.

“Well,” you may ask, “how does my trust quotient possibly affect my marriage?” Let me explain what could be happening. Transference is a term which means that we are acting in or reacting to a current situation based on past experience. For example, John says to his wife, Melanie, “I’m not your father. I’ve told you the truth and you refuse to believe me because your dad always lied to you.”John is saying that Melanie is accusing him of treating her the way her father did. She is transferring feelings of distrust and anger from her experience with her dad to her husband. There may be absolutely no rational basis for her behavior.

Obviously, John will feel like he is under scrutiny a good deal of the time and any slip up will bring the accusation, “You don’t love me.” Hopefully, he will see that, although he is trustworthy, he will need to be especially patient with Melanie in order to help her build the trust which will make the marriage work. Melanie will need to get some insight into how she has developed this deficit of trust and work through the emotional damage done to her so she can live with some sense of assurance and comfort in her relationship with John.

Trust Your Spouse?

There is no way to overstate the importance of trust in marriage. Trust is to your marriage what your heart is to your body. Trust is absolutely indispensable to a healthy marriage. Therefore, our character and the things we do to earn trust are vital if we are to have a good marriage.

What I have just said implies at least two important things about trust. First, trust is a basic need in your marriage. Being able to depend on each other to respect your deepest feelings and needs builds security and gives comfort. When this is not true good communication is absent and there is a sense of anxiety and loneliness in the marriage. When your word cannot be relied on in ordinary, everyday transactions the foundation of trust is eroded and a deeper problem is often lurking just under the surface: If I can’t trust you in the small things, how can I trust you with my heart? Trust is basic to your marriage.

Another idea I want you to consider is that trust is learned. There is a real sense in which most of us didn’t really know our mate when we first married. Perhaps we had developed a certain level of trust strong enough to take a big chance on marriage. But, if our marriage has grown the way it should, we have had to continue developing trust in our spouse .The biggest issue for couples in this area, I think, is whether you believe your spouse is really trying to be unselfish and to look out for your best interest. If that trust is there you can continue to grow through mistakes by forgiving each other and address the areas where you need to grow. As you mature together in your love you will find that you have learned more and more how to trust each other.

Not all people enter into the venture of marriage with the same ability to trust and this can be a problem in making the marriage work. Why is this and what do you need to do if you are in this situation? We’ll look at this in the next blog.

The Trust Factor: Marriage (part one)

Trust is vital in marriage. I recently heard of a situation where a young wife had discovered her husband was having an affair. When she confronted him about his unfaithfulness and the marriage vows he took he replied, “That’s just a piece of paper.” The “piece of paper” he was referencing was, of course, the marriage license. There are several things wrong with a scenario like this.

First, adultery is wrong. It is a breach of trust between a man and a woman who have agreed to be faithful to each other. There may be lots of excuses as to why a person succumbs to this temptation but there is no real justification for it. If a person isn’t mature enough to keep their libido in check they shouldn’t take on the responsibility of marriage. Adultery is the breaking of the trust which is vital to a healthy marriage. Trust can be repaired but only through a truly repentant attitude and hard work.

Second, there was probably a lot of misplaced trust in this situation. Sometimes, people allow passion to over rule wisdom. All of us need to be loved but we may fail to use caution when giving our love to someone else. Why? Because our desire and need for the security of being loved is so strong that we may naively accept the other person’s “I love you” as the real deal. The truth is that lots of folks talk about love without the foggiest notion of what real love is. But, we want to be “loved’ and are liable to fall for any counterfeit.In the instance cited above, trust was blind and naive.

Third, situations such as this cause me to question the character of those involved. I tend to see adultery in this instance as a symptom of a dysfunctional marriage. Something at the core of the marriage wasn’t right. There was no solid basis for trust because there wasn’t character to build on.

When a man and woman have committed to each other to be honest and meet each other’s needs a solid trust develops. The glue that holds relationships together in tough times involves the trust that has been built by the way they have cared for each other before the tough times come. We learn to trust our spouse, or vice versa, because we know them.

Trustworthiness is a part of good character and it is wise to have a good idea about the “character” you are thinking about marrying before you say “I do.”

More on this in The Trust Factor: Marriage (part two)

How Does Your Child Handle Success or Failure?

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.

How Cute Is Your Kid?

Appearance is a big deal in our superficial society. To be cute or handsome is “good” and to not be”blessed” with good looks is not so good. The word “cute” ranks in the top 20% of words in use today. We have been so indoctrinated by this value system that we tend to see people differently based on their physical attractiveness. Do you believe your kid’s true worth should be measured by how he or she registers on the “attractive” scale?  I certainly hope not.

A parent with this type of narcissistic obsession can cause real problems for their child. If you put too much importance on outward beauty, your child may come to believe his worth is based on how cute he is. This is a dangerous way to value your self. Why? Think about it. Accidents, illness and aging can rob you of what has made you important.

God certainly does not value us based on our looks. He loves all people the same, regardless of external factors. What he does value highly in people is character; traits such as honesty, faithfulness, integrity, concern for others, etc..

How we look physically is basically determined at conception.  We had no choice in the color or texture of our hair, skin tones, basic body structure or gender. While we can alter our appearance through colors, cosmetics and surgeries the fact remains that to base one’s value solely on looks is a shortsighted and dangerous path.

If your child doesn’t learn to accept the way he looks as a result of genetics he will likely see himself as superior or inferior to others based on comparisons. Beauty or handsomeness is a superficial thing and over time a dependence on this quality to get you by in life will not bring good results.

If you are the parent of a particularly beautiful or handsome child I think you face a rather difficult challenge. You hear comments of how handsome your child is and this can become a source of pride for you. Be careful not to become distracted from what is really important in the long term for your child; his character. Your child can’t do much to alter his/her basic appearance but can choose the kind of person they want to be.

Do you want to learn more about how to help your child develop a solid self-esteem? See the chapter titled “Beloved” in my book at https://smashwords.com/books/view/138381. (ctrl & right click+open)

Is Your Child An Accident ?

Do you think of your child as an “accident”? Be careful because our attitude or opinion about where our child came from is very important. Why is this so? One reason is because our attitudes tend to “seep out” sooner or later and our child picks up on this at an emotional level.

Our children sense how we really think and feel about them. As a parent, it’s difficult to hide our true estimate of our child. Our words, tone of voice, the “looks” we give them, the way we touch them and many other things we do send important messages to them.

I have sometimes heard a parent thoughtlessly say their child was an “accident.” Well, maybe you “accidently” became pregnant. However, I would caution you not to let statements like that ever form on your lips.

No child should be exposed to the idea that they were an “accident.” Did you “accidently” have sexual intercourse? Own the issue. Take responsibility and do not leave the impression your child wasn’t wanted. A child can be unplanned but should never be unwanted.

A child does not ask to be born. He has no decision in the process which caused the conception which gives him life. He deserves parents who will take responsibility for their decisions and will lovingly accept and care for him. If you are not at that point, I suggest you grow up. Your child needs a grown-up for a parent.

Does God view a child as an accident? Of course not. The biblical view is that a child is a gift from God. Couples who are tuned in to this idea understand that their ability to conceive is a gift from God.

It is encouraging to see childless couples go through expensive medical procedures or adopt in order to bring a child into their family. Such procedures often take years, with lots of money and heartache involved. Children who come into such families are usually blessed by parents who want them and know where they really come from.

Are your words and actions consistent with the biblical view your child is a gift from God?

How Emotionally Mature Are You?

How emotionally mature are you? What if someone treated you the way you treat your child? Would you feel happy, angry, disappointed, important or encouraged? Our words and actions have a powerful effect on our child. To a large degree your child’s sense of himself comes from his interpretation of your words and actions toward him.

No one can be a perfect parent, we all make mistakes. However, being mindful of  the power of our influence should cause us to use great care about our words and actions.You may have great difficulty controlling your emotions and say and do careless and hurtful things, things not easily forgotten by your child. 

The problem I have encountered is that some parents are hardly more emotionally mature than their children. They are physically grown but emotionally stuck in a childish or adolescent emotional pattern. They pout and sulk when they don’t get their way. They explode or withdraw when they get angry. The children of this immature, childish kind of  parent are often damaged by this emotionally toxic environment. Solution: grow up. Get help.

An important part of being emotionally mature is to acknowledge your mistakes and hold yourself responsible for your actions. It is important to understand a few basic principles about being responsible: First, your child (or anyone else) doesn’t make you angry. Anger is your choice. You own it and it is yours. Second, what you do with your emotions is your responsibility. You are accountable for how you act and what you say. Third, to change irresponsible behavior you must acknowledge your wrong and fix it with your child. After a sincere apology or two you may begin to discover how distasteful your behavior is and discipline yourself in order to change it.

Emotionally mature parental love seeks to do what is in the best interest of your child. The way you handle your frustrations with him will go a long way in determining his sense of himself.

Are Your Fears Hindering Your Child’s Development?

Do you realize your fears can hinder your child’s physical development? Yes,that’s true and your child’s inability to accomplish certain ordinary things can work against his confidence and positive view of himself. Let me explain.

Several years ago Joey (not his real name), about ten, was brought to me because he had almost become paralyzed by his fear of bugs. He didn’t want to play outside and, therefore, avoided it whenever possible. Instead of engaging in outdoor activities he developed a strong attachment to video games he could play inside. The parents did little to counter his fears until Joey insisted he wanted to join the Boy Scouts. That’s when they brought him to me.

The parents were concerned that “scouting” would put him in situations where he would encounter bugs and many different kinds of critters.(I believe, in his own way, Joey was asking for help).After building trust with him, we did activities to ally his fear of bugs. Through much work, he actually came to the place where he could hold a bug in his hand, a great accomplishment!

The bigger issue I found was that Joey was severely limited in many things a ten-year-old might do. He could not ride a bicycle and was woefully behind in his ability to hit a ball or play other games boys his age could play. The source of Joey’s problem was his mother’s fear which resulted in over-protection. The father, to this point, had been complicit in that he had not pushed back against her emotional control of Joey. The road ahead for Joey and the development of a good sense of himself would be more difficult than it had to be because he was physically behind in several skills. Of course, this delay affected his confidence in social relations as well.

As a parent you have lots of influence on your child’s physical,emotional and social development. You must realize what your fears are and not impose them on your child.While it is your job to protect your child from situations they cannot handle you must also realize your child needs to be allowed to do things that can be hurtful. Of course, your child could be stung by an insect. Of course, he could have a wreck on a bicycle. Yes, he could be hit by a ball. However, taking risks is a part of the process of growing up. It is your job to encourage certain risks which can lead to skill development and the building of confidence. Choose activities that are age-appropriate and do what you can to keep your child safe. 

Allowing your child to acquire game skills and other individual physical skills is part of helping him develop a good sense of himself. Being able to participate in things other boys and girls do also has the potential for building social and emotional skills.

Whose Dream Is It?

What dream or expectations do you have for your kid? Caution. You are probably well-meaning and only want the best for your child but be sure you know if you are imposing your dream on your child. When you put you child in a position to repeat your accomplishments or to accomplish something you did not you are using him for your own end. This is unhealthy love. Please allow me to share with you a very common way in which this can happen.

Healthy love does not attempt to fulfill your dream through your child. It is easy to understand how a parent might unconsciously try to live his life through his child. Most parents want the best for their child. Many want their children to have life better than they did growing up. They want them to have opportunities for education and success that they struggled for. The bottom line is they often want life to be easy for their child.

There is nothing wrong with wanting good things and success for your child. But, you may need to think hard about your definition of success and what is involved in accomplishing it. Parents tend to define success according to our own struggles and experiences. This can be a real trap as we think about dreams for our child. This can set us up to try to live out our dreams, accomplish things we didn’t do, and build a name for our self through our child.

Here are some reminders which may help you avoid trying to fulfill your dreams through your child.

First, true and lasting success is found only in our relationships with God, our self and others ( Matthew 22:34-40).Does this biblical concept guide your understanding of real success?

Second, your child is a gift to you. He is not your property or an instrument you can use to fulfill your dreams or make up for your disappointments in life. He belongs to God and to himself.

Third, God has a plan for your child and has chosen you as his parent to help him become all God intended him to be.

Many children grow old striving to fix that deficit in their parent’s life but never receive the sense of approval and acceptance they so desperately seek. A child needs acceptance and the right to be himself and pursue his own dreams rather than to feel obligated to fix the disappointments or fulfill dreams of his parent. To attempt to live for a parent is an emotional dead-end street.