Michael got caught. The night before he knew that his friends were having a party and he wanted to go. However, because of poor school grades, his parents had grounded him from any parties. Michael decided that he would go anyway. When his parents went to bed, Michael climbed out of his bedroom window and went to the party.
Josh S. had an affair after 23 years of marriage.
The politician had worked hard and decided he needed a vacation. However, he also decided to submit a receipt for the expenses of his trip and he was reimbursed for all costs. During the year-end audit, this was discovered.
Susie was only six years old when a camp counsellor took advantage of her and fondled her in her camp bunk. Susie told her mother and the counsellor was fired and arrested.
What do all these cases have in common? They all are examples of breech of trust. What is trust? Trust comes from the German word “trost” which suggests comfort. For our benefit, let’s define trust “as a belief that those on whom we depend will meet our expectations of them”.
How many times have you heard your child say ”trust me”? Is it different when an adult says, “trust me”? Does time make a difference? If a person has just met someone, he or she would hesitate to trust that person. Yet, with time we expect that trust is built as we get to know the person better. How do we know when to trust and when to be more reserved? How can we understand it when someone breeches our trust. How does the relationship go on? What long term effect does a breech of trust have on someone? Trust is at times so easy to lose, while protecting trust is so important. If I have developed trust with you, how do I maintain that trust without losing it? Our Torah teaches us that we turn to it for life lessons as Hashem has given us all we need. We just need to know how to find it. The Torah teaches Kavod Ha-beriyot whereby we must respect and protect the well-being of all human beings. In Leviticus (Vayikra) we learn much about trusting relationships. In Leviticus 19:14 (Vayikra) we learn “What is hateful to you, do not do to your friend; Do not place a stumbling block before the blind”. Then, in Leviticus 19:18 we are told, “And you shall love your friend as yourself”. We are told to “trust in G-d” and to “trust in the Redemption”. What does this mean to us? Is trust “bain adam L’Machom” (between man and G-d) the same trust as “bain adam V’Chavara” (between man and man)?
Why is trust so important? Developing childhood trust is important to form solid social and emotional development. When trust is present, people can more comfortably work effectively together. They tend to freely share information without anxiety about how it will be used by others as well as share problems and mistakes more easily together. They will more likely admit lack of knowledge and can more easily commit themselves to others.
Trust must be earned and built upon. Characteristics that help build trust include the ability to follow through on promises and complete tasks, have open, productive and frequent communication, surface problems when they arise and avoid collecting negative or hurt feelings and avoid forming cliques or groups within groups.
This brings us to the issue of developing trust in childrearing. Eric Erickson, a famous psychiatrist in the early and mid 1900’s, developed his socialization theory of the building blocks to the life cycles of raising children with good mental health. The life cycle theory stated that a child must develop through each level to successfully move on to the next level which would eventually develop good self-esteem. The first stage, and most basic, is that of trust. Without a child developing a sense of trust, he/she cannot move forward to the next life cycles in a strong, positive healthy fashion. How does an infant develop trust? When the infant learns that when he is in a state of discomfort (wet, hungry, pain), someone will be there to meet his immediate needs and take care of the problem. The same is true as the child develops. When something is wrong, someone can be counted on to “protect” and take care of the situation. Erickson and others spent years studying the theory of the development of attachment between caregiver and child. Without proper attachment, children do not develop as other children. In fact, some recent research suggests actual brain development differences between children with good and poor attachment figures. Good attachment leads to trusting relationships where one relies on others for security.
As our children get older, developing trust does not come as naturally as when they are infants and toddlers. Therefore, when we teach our older children to learn skills of trust, we, and they, must understand the rewards. As we work towards a mutual trust with our children, remember the rewards. When we have mutual trust, we can let others know our feelings, emotions and reactions. We also show the confidence in each other to have mutual respect while not taking advantage of the other person. We learn to share our inner feelings and thoughts with others with the belief that they will not spread them indiscriminately. Furthermore, we are able to place confidence in others so that they will be supportive and reinforcing of one another, even if we let down our “strong” mask and show our own weaknesses. To have mutual trust, we assume that others will not intentionally hurt or abuse the other if either should make an error or a mistake. We have an inner sense of acceptance of others with whom we are able to share secrets, knowing each is safe. We have a sense that things are fine; that nothing can disrupt the bond between you and the other. Also, we develop the ability to let others into our lives so that each can create a relationship built on an understanding of mutual respect, caring, and concern to assist one another in growing and maturing independently.
Mutual trust is like the glue or cement of relationships that allows a person to need others to fulfill oneself. Opening yourself up to let others in on your background, problems, concerns, and mistakes with the assurance that they will not ostracize you because of these things means mutual trust. Likewise, the act of placing yourself in the vulnerable position of relying on others to treat you in a fair, open and honest way represents you understand and are ready for a trusting relationship.
As we move forward in building a good, strong mutual relationship with our children, let us enjoy reaping these rewards of our hard work. Finally, let our children learn the skills of trust in a mutual relationship with us, their parents.