Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Because I don't trust you..."

Today I found myself saying words I now regret. At least I think I regret them.

"Why Mommy?" he had asked.

"Because I don't trust you," I answered.

But as I walked away I wondered what on earth had possessed me to use those words. What kind of a mother says that to her six-year-old? The kind who doesn't trust her six-year-old, apparently. But is that any excuse? Should those thoughts ever be shared with a young child, even if he's proven time and time again that he can't be trusted? Or should the sentiment be framed in gentler terms, like "because I'm not comfortable with you doing that" or "because I want to know where you are and what you're doing"?

On the other hand, he's six years old -- old enough to learn that there are consequences to his actions. One of the consequences of stealing four granola bars out of the cupboard (tomorrow's going to be a bbbbaaadddd day), eating them and trying to hide the evidence is that when you want to play downstairs (where you hide your stash) Mommy says "no...because I don't trust you." Or when later that day you ask if you can play in the backyard while Mommy takes a shower, she says "no...because I don't trust you." (This is the same child who was found 10 blocks away without his shoes on the last time he promised to stay in the backyard.)

So which is it? Am I scarring him for life or teaching him a life lesson? Am I a bad mom for making him feel bad about himself or a good mom for teaching him accountability?

I have no idea. But I'm sure he'll tell me in 20 years, once he's in therapy.

1 comment:

  1. Laura,

    I've lived that. I have told my children that I don't trust them. They also have ADHD and possibly ODD and Anxietey issues (along with other learning disabilities that we're in the process of getting diagnosed...)

    Did I do the right thing? Yes. Of that I am sure. My girls have come to realize that their "liberties" depend on trust. It's the same thing in the adult world.

    My girls learned early that if I can trust them in the little things, I will trust them in the bigger things.

    Do they still lie to me? Yeah. My eldest read a book that I didn't feel was age appropriate for her. Some friends from school let her read a copy at school.

    Do they still sneak snacks? Yeah. It's one of the reasons that I keep the "can't have that's" out of the house.

    I was intensive about it though. When they came close to the line, I would say that I was having issues trusting them. If I couldn't trust them, then it would mean that they couldn't do things on their own. When they crossed THAT line, I've done it and held to my word. They had to stay beside me at all times. They were not allowed to do anything without direct supervision. It took over a year for them to regain the trust they had before they crossed that line.

    Don't get me wrong, they didn't spend the next year glued to my side almost 24/7 - they were in school.... They only did that for about 6 weeks or so. They had to very slowly regain my trust.

    Once they got my trust back, they knew how "expensive" it was, and they weren't so willing to throw it away. It is intense. It is hard. It is "the law" in my house.

    I've only had to do it once. I might have to do it again. Why? I did it with my oldest, when my youngest was about 4. The oldest learned her lesson, as did 2 of her sisters. The youngest didn't really realize what all happened - which is why I may have to do it again, this time with the youngest.

    I just asked my oldest how she felt about the whole episode - she didn't even remember! I think you'll be good. ;)