Trust. It’s that thing that allows us to have faith that people in the world will “do the right thing”, or at least the thing they’ve committed to doing. It’s easily broken, and because of that, I think it’s one of those important things in life.
Living the way we do we’ve got to put a lot of faith in our kids. In other words, we have to trust them. We need to trust them to follow rules when they’re set in place for good reason. We need to trust them to take care of their needs.
I’ve always tried to trust my kids, even when my daughter has gone out of her way to prove herself untrustworthy. Corde tends to have problems with stealing, lying, and other unpleasant habits when she feels abandoned by her dad. For a while this used to be a problem, but thankfully she’s recognized it and she’s working on it. It’s made trusting her during those periods a bit on the trying side, but we’ve gotten through them in the end.
Living the way we do, with a life based in freedom and liberty, trust is a huge component. Without trust I couldn’t let my kids do half of the things they do. It’s made both of our lives so much easier because I know my children don’t need to be supervised every second of the day. I can actually kick back and relax without having to constantly be worried what my kids are getting into or what trouble they may be causing. I know they won’t trash the house if I leave to take the trash out. I don’t need to worry what’s going on when things get “too quiet”. Generally that’s just a sign that they’re reading books or taking naps, not getting into something I should worry about. Most of the time I can even take a shower in peace while Oz is at work, though it may mean Sander sitting outside the shower door singing to me about how badly he wants a shower too. At least that’s better than having to take a speed shower in order to prevent chaos from breaking out in that short time I’m not supervising them.
To a lot of people this seems like I’m being a neglectful parent, but the truth is I no longer feel like a prison warden with my house on lock-down. I don’t feel the need to constantly check on my kids to make sure they’re not getting into trouble. That feels too much like trying to catch them being bad. Instead I find myself poking my head in because it’s a great way to check in with my kids. If I poke my head in they’re inspired to tell me exactly what they’re doing in ever detail. Often times it’s telling me all about the story they’re reading or the picture they’re drawing. These conversations probably wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t think to poke my head in and see what they were up to. It’s valuable time with my kids.
However, trust doesn’t always come easy. As parents I think we’re subconsciously wired to control to some degree. It’s part of keeping our kids safe. In some of the neighborhoods we’ve lived in previously that’s meant keeping the kids in the house and not trusting them to go out to play with friends unsupervised. It wasn’t even so much trusting them as trusting the neighborhood, and knowing there were too many risks. I wouldn’t want my kids snatched up off the streets, shot, or forced to do something they shouldn’t be doing. It was only one neighborhood and it wasn’t so bad when we first moved in, but it swiftly declined in the year we lived there.
Now things are different. Corde pokes her head in almost daily to inform me she’s going to her friend’s house or they’re going for a walk around the neighborhood. Our only rule is that I don’t want her out of sight of the trailer unless she’s with friends. The neighborhood has regular police patrols, so I’m not too worried, but kids are still safer in groups. We’ve all agreed that Beekee can’t leave the lot with his friends unless Corde is with him because she knows what to do in case of an emergency and his friends may not. I trust her, but I’m not so sure I trust them. This generally turns into a pack of kids wandering the neighborhood. The older ones look after the younger ones and they all play together, not caring about age, gender, or anything. It reminds me of when I was younger.
For me this is natural, but for Oz, he’s having a harder time with it. I can’t count the number of times he’s told me the kids shouldn’t be wandering the neighborhood or that he doesn’t like Corde and Beekee just taking off in the neighborhood. He thinks they’re going to get into trouble and doesn’t trust the people in the neighborhood. He talks about how they shouldn’t be doing it and something could happen to them. It’s hard for him to let go. It’s so much easier for him to hold on tight.
He’s having problems with a lot of our lifestyle. It’s harder for him to let go. It’s harder for him to trust. He’s got all these preset ideas of how life is supposed to be and I’ve just come in and knocked them all down like so many flies. While he understands and likes the idea, but it’s a challenge for him.
One of these days I know he’ll get it. He’ll be happy to see the kids running around with their friends. He’ll enjoy knowing he doesn’t have to worry about what the kids are doing every second of the day when he’s at home. He’ll see just how great it is to be able to relax. Until then, well, he’ll just have to work on having a little trust…