Today is an exciting first for Pretty Wednesday. A true blue print author is guest posting for us today! Needless to say, I am thrilled! Linda Emma is a mom of two twenty-somethings, lives in Boston, wrote an amazing novel ,works at Endicott College as a teacher/tutor and is a Content Creator for Effective Student Marketing at an agency. (Did you get all that?) She brings a little of her school experience as well as her own kids to her blog kidssuck.net. A blog with a funny title and some seriously thought provoking content. When I asked her to guest post for us, I left the topic up to her. I knew that anything she came up with would be better without my nosing around in it and, sure enough, her article on trust has had me thinking for days about the best lessons for my M. Can’t wait to hear what you guys think. Thanks Linda!
We are wired for trust.
Out of the womb and into the world, as a species, we possess a dearth of protective instincts. Anyone who’s ever seen a startled infant flail his arms and legs has to get that humans are ill-equipped to make it long-term on their own. The Moro Reflex hearkens back to an evolutionary day of falling primates desperately grasping to illusive clutches of fur. But its modern day display makes it pretty clear that babies truly believe that someone will be there to catch them if they fall.
Fast-forward to 21st century maternal instincts and those Neanderthal kiddos couldn’t have gotten it more right. As a protective breed, modern day moms are even better (or worse) than their forebears. They don’t just protect defenseless babies; they follow those babies through developmental stages much further than any of the predecessors. Moms are catching falling children when they stumble in grade school, high school, and even college.
And their kids trust them to do so, to be there, to take care of things, to clean up after them.
Too bad it isn’t made crystal clear to those kids, though, that not everyone is in their corner like mom and dad. That trust isn’t necessarily the natural order of things out in the big bad world and that it may need to be earned and deserved. That flailing about waiting for someone to catch them is a pretty wrong way to wade through life.
After one of my students felt betrayed by her friends, she told me, “I don’t trust anyone.”
An extreme response.
She had been lucky to find a college group where she fit in. It guaranteed her a lot of fun nights and gave her a sense of security wherever she roamed on campus. After the mind-changing incident, though, she reconsidered whom she should call friend. I also suggested that such a large circle of “friends” might be unsustainable.
She came to believe that never again trusting anyone wasn’t the way to go, but a measure of caution might be a good idea.
Ah, lessons learned.
Michael isn’t as quick to trust as his sister is. He’s also more likely to cut someone off when he feels he’s been betrayed. He doesn’t forgive easily. Or perhaps, he’s like his grandmother who claims she’s willing to forgive, but never forgets. Hmmm.
Michael and I have been dissecting the nature of trust recently. He’s young to be in business for himself, young to be learning some of the harsh lessons to which he’s recently been exposed. He’s trying to decide whom to trust and who may—or may not—deserve a second chance. For now, he seems willing to align himself with “partners” while looking to a future as independent contractor. No surprise. Even in preschool, Michael was a bit of an independent contractor.
My kiddos from college, though, aren’t necessarily set up for such independence. Some of them have gotten used to sturdy safety nets stretched below them and have become adept cliff jumpers. It’s hard to blame their behavior; past evidence supports their death-defying exploits. Someone has always been there, able to catch them just before they hit rock-bottom.
The thing is, I want my students to take chances, to believe, to trust –in others, but especially in themselves. I also want them to know, however, that flailing about with open arms into a plummeting abyss is no way to start their lives, and certainly could be one that ends it.
Trust can be ephemeral. It shouldn’t be. But too often, it is.
I don’t (usually) ask my students to trust me. Like my son, I believe trust needs to be deserved and earned. But if I were to posit an unearned entreaty to my students, I would plead, trust me: you need to be careful about whom you trust.