Daily steps to learn when and how to trust and become a trustworthy parent.
“Mom, what are you eating?” my 4-year-old daughter chirped as she peeked around the fridge door at the crinkling wrapper in my hands.
“Uhhh… um, nothing,” I garbled past the chocolate I knew she could smell with her super-candy-sensor nose. “Go pick a game and I’ll be right over.” Her narrowed eyes darted back to my closed fist before she stepped away to set up her game.
I finished chewing to get rid of the evidence and walked over to play a round of Candy Land. The game pushed the incident out of my mind until I lay in bed that night and stared at the ceiling.
Is sneaking a piece of chocolate a big deal? The chocolate doesn’t matter, but I lied. I lied and dismissed my daughter. I made her feel like her questions don’t deserve an honest answer.
I decided then and there to work on building a trusting relationship with my daughter. I want her to be able to tell me when she makes a mistake. I want her to be able to ask questions when she’s curious. I need to trust her, and I need her to trust me.
Trust between parents and children is vital. We need to become trustworthy to earn our children’s trust. And we need to be examples of integrity, so our kids learn to be honest and trustworthy.
But trust doesn’t mean we should blindly take everyone’s word as truth. No, we need to learn when to trust and when not to trust. We need to find the truth and be truthful to others.
Want more trusting relationships in your life? Follow these 8 tips to become more trustworthy and avoid dishonest relationships.
How to Become More Trustworthy
1. Learn when to trust others
- Search for the truth to decide when to trust. We should only trust someone when they have two things: adequate knowledge and integrity. Well-meaning people can be ill-informed, and well-informed people can have bad intentions. Before we trust, we need to make sure the other person is well-informed and has honest intentions.
- Take it day-by-day. Decide if a person is trustworthy in a certain situation. It’s not all or nothing. Every situation needs to be evaluated. A trustworthy person may not have seen who ate the last cookie, so we can’t take his opinion as fact. Sure, he has integrity, but he doesn’t have adequate knowledge.
- Choose trustworthy friends. It’s a lot easier to trust your friends when you choose friends who are trustworthy.
2. Trust in your future
- Focus on the present. Don’t worry about the future right now. You can’t solve your problems by worrying. Anxiety ruins the present moment.
- Let go of the little things. Think back on all the little things you’ve stressed about before. Do those things matter now? Probably not. Let go of the little things you cling to so you can cut out the stress and focus on the important things.
- Be vigilant. You can stay up all night worrying that your toddler could drown in the bathtub. Or you can just sit in the bathroom while he takes a bath. Problem solved. Set up your environment to be proactive and safe. Trusting that everything’s going to be ok doesn’t mean you let your kids play in the lion’s cage at the zoo. It means you take proper responsibility to protect your kids and you try not to freak out about things.
3. Communicate openly
- Be trustworthy. Trusting others is only half the battle. You need to be trustworthy. Be honest and open with others to show your integrity.
- Respect others. Especially your kids. Let them talk to you about their opinions and problems without jumping down their throats. Hear them out.
- Build a trusting relationship with your spouse. Be open and honest with each other. Give each other opportunities to trust. I don’t mean you should be secretive to force your spouse to trust you. But you should build trust together.
4. Be a trustworthy parent
- Use fair discipline. Use discipline to teach your kids, not to show them how miserable you can make their lives. If your kids tell you the truth and you flip out, they’re not going to do it again.
- Thank your kids for telling the truth, even if you have to discipline them for their actions. Make sure they know that you’re not disciplining because you’re mad, you’re disciplining because you love them too much to let them act that way.
- Give your kids opportunities to build trust. Don’t talk to your kids like you’re in an interrogation room, grilling them on details to see where they slip up. When they have both adequate knowledge and integrity, try to take them at their word.
How to Avoid Dishonest Relationships
5. Learn when not to trust
- Search for the truth. Increasing trust doesn’t mean being a doormat or turning a blind eye. If someone doesn’t have adequate knowledge or has an intent to deceive, don’t trust them. Do your research and find your information a different way.
- Let others regain your trust. When someone loses your trust, give them opportunities to earn it back. Don’t just give it back blindly, but let them earn it back. You need to know that they have changed (they received adequate knowledge or changed their intent) so that you may trust them again.
6. Try not to worry
- Be proactive. Prepare yourself for regular, everyday worries. Find tactics that work for you to combat it and make a plan. Try taking step back, using a gratitude journal, reading a self-help book, prayer, meditation, or relaxation techniques.
- Seek professional help when appropriate. If you suffer from severe anxiety, seek professional help. Nothing I suggest can replace that.
7. Don’t dominate with your emotions
- Don’t treat your opinions like facts. Opinions (both yours and others) don’t count as adequate knowledge. When you need to know what happened, find facts. Don’t force your opinions on others. Even though you may really feel it’s true, you can’t change reality by believing otherwise.
- Don’t make it personal. If your son lied, he lied. Discipline him appropriately. Don’t change your discipline because you’re offended that he lied to you. If you take everything personally, you risk becoming a major drama queen. Take a step back from emotional situations.
- Exchange a journal. If you can’t have calm, open conversations, exchange a journal. It’s easier to talk about hot issues in writing than face to face.
8. Don’t dismiss your kids
- Respect your kids’ opinions. Sometimes we treat our own opinions like facts and our kids’ opinions like garbage. When your opinions differ from your kids’, remember that they’re not you. They see the world from a different angle. Have open conversations with them and talk through your differences.
- Answer your kids’ questions in age-appropriate ways. My 3-year-old wanted to know where babies come from. “They start off the size of a tiny dot in mommy’s belly and grow bigger and bigger,” I told her. She said, “Oh! Ok,” and ran off to play. When kids ask questions, you don’t need to explain the entire universe. Simply answer the question. You’d be surprised how often that answer satisfies them.
- Talk about your discipline. Don’t talk instead of discipline, or while you are disciplining. Talk after. Your son doesn’t understand why he’s not allowed to go to that party? Have a calm conversation about it. Your daughter wants to know why you cut up her miniskirt? Tell her why you love her too much to let her dress like that.
Take the Challenge
We have a new resolve to work on trust and great ideas for how to increase it in our daily lives. But without a plan, it’s not likely to stick in our brains.
So let’s make a plan. Join me in a Trust Challenge! This challenge uses concrete steps and reminders to grow in trust for our good and the good of our kids.
Step 1: Prepare and learn.
Reread the post and figure out what you struggle with the most. Print out the materials. Hang the main reminder on the fridge. Hang the small ones around the house, wherever you know problems are more likely to happen.
Step 2: Start fresh every day
Wake up and prepare to work on trust. Treat each day as a new day, no matter what yesterday was like. Read the printable on the fridge and think of concrete ways to improve today.
Step 3: Pause and remind yourself throughout the day
Throughout the day, look at your reminders and try to win the small battles. When my kids ask me what I’m eating, instead of lying, I’ll tell them it’s a “mom-treat.” But if you fall, it’s ok. Apologize and move on.
Step 4: Look back every night
Every night, take a minute to look back at your day. Be thankful for all the good moments! Apologize for mistakes. If you had conflicts with your kids or lied to them, spend some extra time with them. Give them your full attention. Listen to their stories and laugh at their jokes. Read them a book, rub their back. Do something to make them feel a little extra loved.
Step 5: Evaluate yourself weekly
After each week, use the self-evaluation printable to look back on your week. Check off where you excelled and where you fell short. Write your progress to see how far you’ve come and help you grow even more!
I’m super pumped! Click on the preview below to print your materials to start the Trust Challenge with me! Let’s become better Momsters for our sweet little monsters.
Created in Conjunction with To Jesus Sincerely