Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trusting kids

I've been thinking about trusting kids and what that means.

I trust my kids absolutely. It doesn't matter what kind of choices they make, or whether or not they make mistakes, I will still trust them.

As Chamille has gotten older, I find the trust divide very big, between the way I trust her and the way other parents trust their teens. Here's the biggest difference, in the way I see it: I trust both of my kids to do what makes sense to them, to make choices that will benefit them with the best possible outcomes.

The way that I see other parents deal with trust, is that they want to trust that their kids will do what they, the parents, want them to do. They want to trust that their kids will make "right", as defined by the parents, choices. When the kids don't, the parents lose trust in their children.

There isn't an issue at all with discipline when you trust your kids absolutely. When they make choices that you don't like, it isn't because they are deliberately disobeying you or trying to make your life as a parent difficult, it's because they saw that they were making the best choice at the time. Since kids are still learning, they don't always predict all the outcomes that may arise from their choices, and sometimes they need to pick up pieces of the aftermath, but still, it was the best choice they could make at the time.

There is no need to discipline a kid if they are never put in a position where they must choose between what they feel is right and what they feel their parents think is right. When the outcome of denying their own intincts is to do something someone else wants or get into trouble for not, they are denied the chance to learn how to make good choices for themselves. My kids aren't punished or disciplined for their choices or their actions whether I like them or not. There are no hoops to jump to be in my good graces.

When I tell other parents that I trust Chamille to make good choices for herself, I think often the assumption is that she is making all good choices that I approve of based on a set of rules and guidelines and that I trust her to follow all those rules and guidelines. In the absence of those rules and guidelines, she is making choices that directly relate and impact her and others, and because of this, she makes good choices because she weighs carefully the real outcomes of those decisions and not whether or not she will get "caught" or get "in trouble" by doing or not doing certain things.

I absolutely trust my kids, even if they make choices I wouldn't! How wonderful and freeing that is! I don't have to be on constant vigilence to make sure that my kids are complying with rules and guidelines and applying consequences for not following those rules and guidelines. I love this so much and I wish so much that other parents would practice this too! It's so wonderful to have kids that I don't have to fight with, that want to hang out with me and who confide in me about all sorts of things that most kids would never confide in with their parents.

The older Chamille gets, the more value I see in this way of trusting my kids. I see a big and wonderful difference in how beneficial this is as opposed to the more tradional approach to parenting. I can see very clearly how rules and guidelines negatively impact relationships between parents and children. Unless a child agrees with all the rules and guidelines that the parent sets forth, there will be dischord. There is no way around it. Dischord isn't a great way to live and learn happily and easily.

I like happy and easy! Like the above diagram, I want my kids to believe in that fully!