In my experience, a trusting relationship with my children is the backbone of our unschooling lives. And that trust goes both ways: my trust in them, and their trust in me.
It is so important because with trust, real communication can flow.
Our children can ask us questions, can share their thoughts and ideas, trusting they won’t feel belittled. We can share our thoughts and experiences, trusting our children will consider them thoughtfully, knowing we aren’t trying to manipulate them somehow. We trust that when they need help, they will ask for it.
Developing this deep level of trust doesn’t happen overnight—it is built over time and through experience. Let’s talk about some of the ways we can work to build relationships steeped in trust.
Our children’s trust in us
Your children don’t trust you just because you are their parent; they trust you because you have shown them that you are worthy of their trust.
How do we cultivate our children’s trust in us?
- By being responsive: consistently available when they need your help and support.
- By being loving: showing your love consistently in words and actions.
- By being trustworthy: helping them get their needs met; instead of trying to cajole or control them into meeting your goals.
And it takes as long as it takes. Someone else’s trust in us is not something we have any control over. We can control our actions and reactions. The more consistent they are, the more our children will trust that that consistency will continue into the future.
Trust in our children
Again, this develops over time and with experience.
How can we develop trust in our children?
- By getting to know them: understanding their personality, motivations, and goals.
- By being open and approachable: inviting our children to come to us when they want our help.
- By giving them space: seeing their choices and how things play out as they explore and learn.
All these experiences help us better understand our children and their lives. We discover the threads that run though their actions, the things that make them uniquely themselves. We see the consistency in their actions that allows us to be more trusting and comfortable with the future.
The beauty of unschooling is that its not just a style of learning, it’s a style of living. All these experiences interweave such that our trust in each other builds along side our trust in the process of unschooling. We gain experience in living together.
I also want to point out one thing: don’t equate trusting your children with leaving them on their own. Those are different things. You can trust your children, yet they can still need you around to help out: you have more experience to add to the moment. You can help make experiences richer. If you take that trust to mean you are no longer needed, you will be less involved in their lives, your connection with them will probably begin to fade, and with it, the strong and trusting relationship you’ve built.
So treat it with care. 🙂