Anyone that has read our book Love Times Three or followed our blog in detail knows the cornerstones of what we consider effective relationships to be built upon; Communication, Trust, and Respect. These are concepts that are often taken for granted as simply words, yet they are powerful when we have put them into action in our family. I wanted in particular to discuss the importance of trust and instilling trust into our children’s lives.
With 24 children, one of the most powerful lessons I have learned is to have my actions consistent with my words. This seems simple, but so often I would fall into the trap of telling one of our young children “no” over and over instead of following through with the first “no” that was expressed. I had to really think through my answer before responding and learn to stick with it, even through fits or crying. When we tell a child “no” more than once we have already taught them we do not mean what we say, and that we do not trust ourselves or them.
As a result, we teach our children if they keep at something long enough, they can usually wear a parent out and get their way. Soon they don’t trust that adults mean what they say when they say, “no.” It took me a while to learn this, but now when I say, “no” to a toddler such as our two year old Tory and she doesn’t obey, I immediately go pick her up and move her away from the action I had verbally said no to.
Some people use spanking, or physical punishment. We used to do that as well. But to tell a child he or she should not hit and then we go and spank them, seems hypocritical to us. We have learned the importance of non-violence in all aspects of life and especially the home. Gentleness and mild persuasion work much better in our experience.
Unfortunately when it comes to teenagers, it is much more difficult to teach them that you really mean no. It certainly takes a deep commitment, to your word and to your child, but doing so pays tremendous dividends in endearing respect, building trust and being effective in your communication.