“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” – Luke 16:10
Many times parents hear the outcry of teens as they accusingly yell, “You don’t trust me!” Often, unfortunately, parents respond by putting on a mantle of guilt and stumble for words to answer to assure the son or daughter that, indeed, they are trusted. Perhaps the response should be, “Of course, I don’t trust you. You haven’t proven to me that I can.”
Where did we ever get the idea that we should automatically trust anyone? It is only reasonable to trust those who have proven that they are trustworthy. Where is the logic in thinking this time the child will act responsibly when they haven’t in the past. It reminds me of a former GED student I taught who came to class one night in a car his dad had just gotten him. He explained that his dad bought him the car if he promised to come to class. How long do you think the student kept attending class? He already had his reward. He came only a couple of times. It is the same with trusting children before they prove their reliability. Chances are that if they don’t have to act responsibly, they won’t.
How do we get a child to prove trustworthiness? First, it should be made clear that the trust must be earned. Next, define how that can be done. Lastly, the child is rewarded with trust only if deserved.
Choose a small task and let the child know that you are testing their responsibility to achieve that task. Define expectations clearly. When the task is finished, evaluate with the child what was done correctly or what is still needed for improvement. Don’t stop with only one task. Give another opportunity or two to prove that they can be trusted. Then, try an activity without telling the son or daughter that they are being tested. As the child proves he/she is reliable, increase trust gradually. Each time a child is trusted and the child fails, start over with opportunities for the child to earn trust again by choosing small and safe activities. Even the matter of doing chores or keeping a room neat and clean can be used as opportunities to prove trust.
Affirm success by relating actions to Scripture. It is always good to use Scripture. Luke 16:10 is Jesus expressing the principle of proving trust. It would be good to have children memorize this Scripture.
It is truly a blessing to have trustworthy children! It will probably never happen, however, if children are allowed to do whatever they want without having first proven that they can be trusted. We prove our love to our children by making sure they learn Biblical principles and integrate those principles in life situations. If we do this, then our children will have parents they can trust! Hopefully, God, too, can trust us to teach His ways to the children He has placed in our care!