I’ve been working on my new eCourse that will be available this spring and so I’ve been thinking a lot about my parenting values, my priorities, and the ultimate messages I want my daughter to receive both verbally and non-verbally through my parenting.
Of course I want her to know she’s loved and cherished and that she can do anything she puts her mind to. I want her to know she’s valuable and capable and that her opinion matters. And as I pondered these things there was one message that kept showing up.
I trust you.
I want my child to know that not only is she wise and capable, but that I actually recognize that she knows what she’s doing. Yes, she’s just two and a half years old, and I want her to know that I trust her to make wise decisions and to take care of herself, and that I support her in taking appropriate risks and reaping their rewards. I want her to know that it’s OK if she falls on her face, we all do that sometimes, and we learn and grow as a result.
I want her to trust herself.
So the other day when she was sorting the silverware, a task she joyfully takes on almost every time I ask, I cringed when she kept asking me to confirm whether the spoon was large or small or whether the fork was in the right spot. “I trust you.” I responded. “You can decide if it’s large or small. Just put it where YOU think it should go.” She happily resumed her task, finished up and went into the other room to do something else.
But later, I worried about her need for reassurance and her fear of making a mistake. I wondered if she’s getting too much feedback from adults about how “right” or “wrong” she is. I fretted that perhaps because I’ve taught her the difference between a sphere and an ellipsoid, I may have inadvertently taken away her ability to discover those things for herself.
Later, after all the worry had dissipated, I just knew on a deeper level how dedicated I am to trusting my child and how committed I am to nurturing self-trust in her. I remembered all the times I’ve refused to offer her an evaluation and asked her to tell me what she thinks instead. I recalled a few times when she’s asked me a question and I’ve simply responded, “You know.”
I remembered a time at the playground when she refused to climb up, worried she might fall. And then a subsequent trip when she tried to climb up and did fall (even though I was spotting her). She cried, got back up and tried again, finally succeeding. I remembered the look on her face. It looked like the success was even sweeter after her previous failure.
I know that’s often the case for me. Overcoming fear and putting in effort gives me a greater sense of purpose. And maybe that’s what they’re meant to do. It’s the things I’m not willing to try, because I’m afraid of failure that most plague me. It’s the times I notice that I’m playing it safe that disappoint me. Because I think we’re all bound for greatness, except when we get in our own way or we’re too afraid to step up.
So I want my daughter to trust her instincts and go for what she wants, recognizing a potential failure as just another stepping-stone to success. Because after all, as long as we persevere, that’s really all failures ever are.
And when she has a question, I want her to look within and know that she’ll always find what she needs there. Sure, she can look something up or ask a teacher. But ultimately, I want her to know that HER truth is what matters most. I want her to know that no matter what others might say, she can trust her inner knowing.
In fact, I want that for everyone! So this week, let’s all trust ourselves more and let’s remind our children that they’re trustworthy. Let’s also take a look at our words and our actions to make sure that we’re sending the message loud and clear that we trust our children. And if there are things that you’re doing that seem to fly in the face of that message, look within and decide for yourself whether you still need to do those things. Maybe there’s a way that you can trust and let go even more than you are already. Or maybe not. Either way, I trust you.
Have a wonderful week, Shelly