We all look for it. It’s human nature to search for the easy way out, the fast buck and the simplest or cheapest solution.
In human relationships there is no quick fix.
Mutual trust and respect must form the foundation of any successful relationship. Without trust and respect, relationships flounder, and eventually whatever natural bonds exist unravel.
As parents and adults, in our relationships with children, we must bring with us the utmost trust and respect for the child and our relationship. We must trust and respect the work of the child in his or her efforts to build a unique human being. The child’s life is totally dependent on his or her adult relationships. The adults in a child’s life create the conditions for the child’s self-construction. A breakdown in the critical underpinnings of those adult/child interactions adversely affects the child.
When we experience a child doing what he or she ”ought not” or being ”naughty,” we need to realize that the child has lost an essential connection to an important adult in his or her life. A misbehaving child is trying to communicate that he or she has lost vital trust and respect with an adult.
Seeking answers on how to deal with our children, we take parenting classes, read books and advice columns and visit with other parents.
The easy solution is not to be found there.
We learn communication techniques, such as active listening, I-messages, logical consequences, etc., to try to solve our problems with children. These tools can help if used in a spirit of trying to work with our children instead of trying to put a bandage on a floundering relationship. Effective communication skills depend on an underlying foundation of mutual trust and respect.
Many times our difficulties with children stem from deficiencies of personal trustworthiness and respectfulness in our relationship.
Trustworthiness is created by a combination of character and competence.
Character is comprised of three basic qualities: integrity, maturity and generosity. When we can make and keep promises to ourselves and to others, we have integrity. Maturity comes when we have experienced the effort and effect of keeping our promises and can deal with problems with kindness and compassion. Generosity comes from a belief that there are plenty of resources to go around and that mistakes are only setbacks in reaching our objectives.
A person of character can walk their talk with kindness and compassion while possessing a generous spirit.
Competence, the other component of trustworthiness, requires practical skills, the ability to see the big picture and an understanding that all things are interrelated. With competency, we know how to do something; we know why we are doing it; and we understand how it connects to the bigger picture, either now, or in the future.
Respect, a cornerstone for successful relationships, literally means to look again from its Latin roots of re + spectare. With respect, we look a person in the eye, and the person looks back. The relationship connects through the eyes. With just a look we show respectfulness while non-verbally communicating, ”I think you are a worthwhile human being.” To get respect, we have to give respect.
A misbehaving child is a discouraged child, a child looking and not finding trustworthiness and respectfulness in an essential adult relationship.
When navigating rough waters and unknown territory in your adult/child relationships, think about why a child may have lost a vital connection to your trust and respect, then work to re-establish that trust and respect.
Relationships are built with character, competence and respect. There is no easy way.