I Value Your Trust

Dear I, A and K,

When you were born you were placed in my arms and you trusted me. You had no reason not to. Your needs had been met absolutely and without fail for the nine months that were in my womb. When you are first born you have no reason to distrust anyone.

I value your trust. I value it tremendously. I value your trust more than I value being seen as perfect. More than I value being seen as a person of power. More than I value my own ideas of who I am. I value your trust more than I value my sleep. I value your trust more than I value convenience. I value your trust more than I value many things.

Trust is easily broken. I do not wish to squander it on stupid things.

When you cry because you are in pain and I don’t know how to fix it, I sympathize rather than dismissing it.

When you say that you have a need, I try to meet it. Or I acknowledge how strong that want of yours is, and how it must feel just like a need, and we talk about how we grow to understand our wants and how they are different from our needs. I do not get angry at you for your expressions of need or your expressions of those deeply felt wants.

When I say that I will check back on you, I check back on you even though I know you are asleep. I kiss your cheek, pull your sheets up, find your stuffed doggie and put him under your arm and tuck him in too. When you stir awake in the middle of the night, you’ll know that someone has been there to tuck you in and give you a kiss.

When I say that we will do something and plans change, I don’t hope that you’ve forgotten. I apologize, I deal with your frustration, I explain why the plans changed. I reschedule the promise or I find something similar. Disappointment is a part of life, but so are promises, trust, living up to what you said would happen. Sometimes it takes a full year to pass for that promise to be kept, but when I keep it I remind you of the promise made. I tell you that people are not perfect, I am not perfect, and that if a promise has been broken please remind me of it so that I can keep it, because it is important to me. Reminders are not nagging, reminders are a second chance to keep that trust.

When a pet passes away, when a toy breaks in your absence, when a family friend dies.. I don’t take the easy way out. I tell the truth. I share my grief. I share my perspective. I explain. I encourage and answer questions. I don’t make up stories about farms, I don’t ignore questions, I don’t build a fanciful world where nothing bad ever happens. It is all a part of life. Everything has reasons. I can provide you the building blocks of understanding as a child so that you can cope later in life.

When I make a mistake and you are angry at me, I do not try to sugar-coat it or twist your perceptions about my mistake. When I accidentally splash you in the face in the pool and you cry, I apologize. If I step on your foot I say that I’m sorry without acting as though you had no right to be underfoot. When I forget something that was important to you, I do not downplay it or pretend that I hadn’t forgotten.

I explain Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy as beautiful games of imagination and mystery, and we play them wholeheartedly and with fun. They are not a thing that I have created for you, they are something that we create together in a game of fantasy. A make-believe that you are in on from the start and that we craft together as a part of our own tradition. A magic that is not me-made, but that we discover together through storytelling and play.

When you ask me a question, I answer it. But I also look up the answer with you and talk about how information changes and how different people have different ideas about things and how and why things happen. I try to demonstrate the reasons behind the answer that I feel is correct. I talk about the funny stories that people come up with to try to explain the things that they don’t understand. I am not afraid to say “I don’t know the answer to that.”

When you say that you feel sick and do not want to go to school, I do not knee-jerk and accuse you of faking it or lying. I ask you if you feel sick because you’re tired, if you feel sick because you’re nervous. If you feel sick because you really want to stay home. We talk about it, we figure it out, I help you to be more truthful and then I accept the truth and we discuss the options.

Trust does not come from being perfect, it comes from acknowledging mistakes. Trust does not come from shielding someone from truths that may eventually come to be known, it comes from dealing with life as it happens. Trust does not come from lying to you to shield each of us from your emotional response to reality. It comes from facing things head on and with compassion and understanding and with providing you the perspective necessary to deal with things.

I do not get rid of that toy that I absolutely hate and then claim that it is “lost” while you look for it. I do not throw away the clothes that got ripped. I explain, and if it is something of value to you, you keep it. If we lack the space then we talk about options and space and I demonstrate my reasons and we come to terms. Your things are yours and I will not clear the room they occupy without your consent.

Trust is easily squandered. I do not wish to spend your trust in me lightly, nor do I want you to easily spend my trust in you.

I also wish for you to grow knowing that those who are trustworthy are not those who make themselves out to be perfect. It is those who acknowledge their shortcomings, those who apologize, and those who confront the difficult stuff head on. I do not wish to teach you that being lied to is a normal part of life. I do not want you to simply accept the things that you are told as truth without seeking truth on your own. I do not want partial truths to be “good enough”.

I love you enough to put the work in.

<3 Mama

9 thoughts on “I Value Your Trust

  1. Dear Sarah,
    I think what and how you write to your children is very inspiring. One thing I struggle with a lot since becoming a parent is seeing the way babies and children are treated by adults. There is a lot of violence done to them, both physically and verbally. I also struggle putting how I feel about children into words for others, so I want to thank you for expressing yourself in such a gentle, clear and positive way. It helps me to order my thoughts.

    As I type this, my 18 month old son is softly breathing in his sleep next to me. I am so thankful that he has come into my life and that I chose to stay at home to enjoy being his mother.

  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful letter filled with openness, warmth and love. I will share it with my teenage daughter.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you… As I nurse my 3 mo son as he sleeps on my lap now, I look at his beautiful face and tell him again how privilidged I am to have him come into our lives.. I am sure he knows but I have to make sure that he doesn’t forget…

  4. I love this letter, it sums up much of what I feel about the relationship between myself and my 5 month old son. My only disagreement is with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. I enjoyed that magic as a child and I would love to create that magic for him. When he is ready to leave the magic behind, he will, as I did. I do completely respect and understand your approach, though. I love what you wrote about promises made to your children and respecting their feelings, because I have felt that that should be how it is between parents and children since I was young. I hope I pass along my value for my son’s trust to him as well as you have described how you feel about your children’s trust.

    1. I felt the same way as you. I loved believing in Santa when I was little, and would like for my son to live it with the same joy. I hope I am doing the right think because deep in my heart I don’t think this has anything to do with real lies.
      I love the letter, though.

  5. This couldn’t have come at a better moment…..this is my first year fully estranged from my family of origin (6 brothers, I sister, 3 sis in laws, 2nieces, 1brand new nephew :,(, &parents divorced in 2008 after 33 years) it took several “attempts”, only to be drawn back into the toxicity…..I have been married 12 years and have 3 dr *10,8,&4….this has been the most painful several months of my life and it ALL goes back to this trust issue…..if I dared disagree or question my treatment I was labeled “unable to be told the truth”….I was told “they were *afraid* to tell me the truth. It’s sad because that’s the very thing I refused to let slide….being lied to. Yet, it’s so unnecessary to lie….even if you may HATE the response. I heard lies I’d been made to believe my whole life when my parents split up…..my parents were strict “Christian” spanking (the cute euphemism people love to use to make assault sound not “so bad”)……I, myself, am still a believer. My parents were abused and lied to and learned to do the same to their children. because I spoke openly about the truth I was unwilling to ignore, and wasn’t willing to be the silly “lock step” daughter they wanted it just didn’t work to have a thriving relationship with them….it’s funny what abuse does when one of the survivors chooses to take a really confrontational route to health…..it tells all the other victims within that group that it’s too hard, too much, and too extreme to support that person. It wouldn’t work for THEM…..it’s really useless what’s happened within my family of origin…..I am pursuing emotional health and want to help parents who weren’t taught how to parent, for WHATEVER reason, to raise their kids without fear that they’re doing it all wrong….which we children of traumas often do…..gentle parenting…..respecting children before I’d ever EXPECT it……listening before expecting to BE listened to…….

    And I couldn’t do the Santa thing either…..daddy works very hard for what they get and some kids get very little and there’s so much magic in Christmas without believing these things to be real especially when you GIVE to others…..if Santa were “real” why wouldn’t every kid get everything they wanted and the “naughty/nice” part never set well with me either…..my kids get gifts because of the unconditional love we have for the. I can’t imagine ANY of us would make it a year staying on the “nice” list….it’s all too behavior based….Christmas is no less magical without belief in the reality of Santa….. I would never want that to be the beginning of trust ending if it were a huge thing for my girls….I’ve put a LOT of thought into it but I gotta go for now….MERRY CHRISTMAS 2014!!

Leave a Reply