Trust is important for any relationship, but this is especially true of parent-child relationships. As a parent, you’re supposed to set an example for your children so that they know how to behave appropriately. Nobody is perfect and so there will be occasions when your behaviour is less than exemplary, but you really have to make an effort to keep your child’s trust. If your child no longer trusts you, he is unlikely to confide in you or listen to what you have to say.
Thus, you have to be truthful with your child, even if the truth is likely to hurt. You might think you’re protecting your child by refusing to tell him that his daddy has left for good, but the truth will come out eventually. You have to be upfront with your child and let him know the truth. Otherwise, you will simply end up constructing a web of lies that will be found out, by which point it will be difficult for your child to accept what you say as being the truth.
It is therefore important to avoid displaying any hypocrisy. As adults, you probably engage in activities that you tell your child not to, but this is something your child is going to pick up on. If you smoke and tell your child that he shouldn’t smoke because it could damage his health, you also have to point out why it is so difficult for you to quit. Ideally, you would give up smoking, but if you can’t, you have to recognise how this is going to look to your child.
If you are going to keep your child’s trust you have to avoid teasing him or belittling him when you’re alone or when he is in front of his friends. You might make a comment without even giving it much thought, but your child is likely to pay attention to everything you say to him. If you mention that he’s starting to get fat, he may take this to heart and become rather depressed. Instead of thinking of you as someone to turn to when in need of comfort, you may come to represent a source of negativity.
Your child is unlikely to confide in you if he thinks he’s going to be at the receiving end of criticism and taunts. You therefore have to be sensitive to your child’s needs and appreciate that he is a person in his own right. Following on from that, it is important to recognise that your child is entitled to his own space and so you can’t simply rifle through his things and expect your child to trust you, especially if you’re displaying such a lack of trust in him.
Children are extremely perceptive little creatures and so you have to be careful what you say to them and how you act in front of them if you are going to keep their trust.