The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones… Luke 16:10
Instead of raiding the toy chest filled with princess dresses, they have been raiding Jocelyn’s drawers and closet, creating all kinds of crazy combinations and outfits with her clothes. I don’t mind, except for the jumbled mess they leave behind.
When I was refolding her clothes for the 100th time the other day, I noticed all her underwear was gone. After searching a bit, I found them inside a basket. That’s not unusual; we use baskets for a lot of things. The unusual thing was, the basket was buried at the bottom of her princess treasure chest, turned upside down, covering the underwear.
I asked her about it. She explained that when she and her friends go through her drawers and closet, she gets embarrassed when they see her underwear. I told her there was no reason to be embarrassed: everyone wears underwear.
I then tried put them back where they belong, but she begged me to hide them away again. I told her the secret hiding place would be a pain in the neck for me every time I had to put laundry away. We struck a compromise: I put the basket in a high drawer in a bureau on the other side of the room.
I thought the issue was resolved, but it kept nagging at me. I couldn’t figure out why: it seemed so silly and insignificant. Then it occurred to me: although the issue was silly to me, it wasn’t insignificant to Jocelyn. In fact, it affected her so much, she had created an elaborate hiding place for her underwear to avoid embarrassment. Shame on me for downplaying what mattered to her.
I have always wanted to be an approachable mom, no matter what. I want my kids to always feel comfortable coming to me with anything and everything, no matter how small, no matter how bad. Yet here I was, sending the message to Jocelyn that her take on this issue didn’t matter.
Trust is strengthened, or weakened, in small, subtle ways, over time. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we test people with little things. If they keep our secret, protect our feelings, or support us, they pass the test. Then we trust them with more, and so on. However, if someone shares our secret, belittles our feelings, or scoffs at us, we know not to take things to the next level.
Here Jocelyn was trusting me with something that embarrassed her, and I wasn’t honoring it. If she thinks she can’t come to me about this, she certainly isn’t going to come to me with the next thing she’s concerned about, or the next. The ripple effect could be enormous.
Needless to say, when I recognized my mistake, I apologized to Jocelyn, and moved the basket to the secret location of her choice. It may be a hassle for me when I’m putting laundry away, but that’s a small price to pay to have regained her trust.
Questions For Reflection:
* Do I always honor my kids’ concerns, despite how trivial they seem to me?
* Do I see the positive or negative ripple effects of my reaction to my kids’ concerns?
Very timely post for me to read Claire! Dominik is having some issues at school. It is obviously affecting him and he’s upset about it. Instead of my trying to tell him it’s no big deal and he’s over reacting, I probably need to take a different approach so that he will continue to come to me with these things. Great lesson, thank you!!
Sorry to hear about Dominik’s issues at school, Pam. I have no doubt that you’ll take the right approach to help him feel heard, supported and loved. He’s lucky to have you!