In the post Aiming at Trustworthiness I called for a shift of aim from seeking to gain a child’s trust or attachment to the target of cultivating trustworthiness. In application of the Log and Speck Principle of Matthew 7:1-5, let’s start with ourselves. Convincing a child to trust us is not our responsibility. Being trustworthy in the eyes of God is. Nevertheless, while you are accountable to God, your child is also watching. Your life presents a model. Therefore, a parent’s practice of trustworthiness can help the child cultivate the same. Consider the following questions to examine your own trustworthiness:
Do what you say you will do to your child. Do you promise a fun outing or activity and then renege? Do you follow through on promised consequences for misbehavior or are your threats merely dry thunder? If you don’t do what you say, why should the child believe you?
Do what you say you will do with your child. When taking your child to appointments or events, do you arrive a little early or are you consistently late? When picking your child up after an appointment or event, does your child find himself consistently waiting on you because you arrive after the time when you said you would get him?
Do what you say you will do toward others. What are you modeling for your child as he watches your treatment of others? Do you agree to meet a friend for lunch and then back out for no good reason? Do you agree to meet someone at 2:00 but you don’t show until 2:05? Are you always running late? Do you fail to return phone messages or texts or emails? When you get an invite on Facebook, do you often hedge with a click on “Maybe” rather than commit to either attend or decline?
Be responsible in your personal habits. Do you frequently leave a job undone? Then don’t be surprised if your child leaves a chore half finished. If you want better than sloppy homework from your child, then practice better than sloppy housework (or dress or work habits).
Are you inconsistent in church attendance? Do you make excuses for your failings? I frequently hear parents blame their kids for why they are late or don’t make it to a church service. “It’s so hard to get the kids ready.” Parents, your children hear you blame them and hear you making excuses. If you do this, then don’t be surprised when they someday soon excuse themselves to you. (This doesn’t imply that you should accept it, but if you are guilty you will be tempted to. So make sure you have no cause for guilt.)
Practice trustworthiness because it honors God. Then you won’t have to worry about what you are modeling before your children.