Is Your Trust Masked Expectation?

Trust; a component of a healthy relationship.

I trust my partner to be faithful.

I trust my friends to keep that spoken of in private confidential.

I trust my parents to respect and protect my children while in their care.

These are expectations that we have established mutually and consensually in our relationships. This trust is conditional.

Trusting my partner provides access to a life with me.

Trusting my friends provides them access to a friendship with me.

Trusting my parents provides them access to a relationship with my children.

And if that trust is broken? Access is compromised.

Trust; the cornerstone of an unschooling dynamic.

So okay, I trust my children to… ah, to what exactly?

This is a really important consideration.

Because trust is a slippery slope into expectation, it is afforded with conditions. Whilst that is completely relevant to an optional relationship entered into voluntarily, it is inappropriate when we consider that a child’s access to their autonomy should be unconditional. It is not for the parent to bestow or to remove.

Trust is often spoken of as something children deserve but it is important to really explore what our trust is built upon. What are we agreeing to here and is that reasonable? What am I implying my trust affords and is it genuinely mine to give? Do I have expectations? Would I consent to this if I was the child in the situation?

I think we need to acknowledge that trust in unschooling is for us, not our children. It is a way for us to comfort our fears, rather than confront and dismantle them.

You might fear a child who cannot read but you trust a child with access to language to pursue knowledge within it. You might fear a child who spends their day engaged with screens but you trust a child to pursue other interests. You might fear a child staying up late but you trust them to get enough sleep.

But what if you didn’t fear particular outcomes? Would trust even be necessary?

Do children need our trust to simply exist autonomously?

Or do we need to trust to satisfy our conditioning, as a way to quiet the fears of our expectations whilst maintaining a right to them.

When we trust out children? It often seems to be for access to their autonomy. But a parent has no authority to compromise autonomy.

Yeah, I don’t know about trust. I’m not sure my children actually need me to trust them to well, exist.

I think perhaps the cornerstone of unschooling is not a parent’s trust in their child but a child’s trust in themselves.

A child should be able to create their own expectations for their life and trust that they are perfectly equipped to achieve them.

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4 Comments

  1. Going to go away and think about this some more, but I’m sure you’re correct when you say it’s more down to them trusting themselves. I’m somewhere down the unschool path, but I know I have a fair bit of the road ahead of me, and more work to do on myself, so this is interesting.

  2. When I finally got around to examining my concept of trust I discovered that it was built on faith – to trust I needed to have faith, take a leap of faith, put that faith out there, believe in something or someone. To do that I needed to think and act unconditionally. Without being aware of, and guarding that unconditionality fiercely I am not acting in faith, I am not holding open the space for trust to grow and be. I agree that some people may have a different concept and use the word trust differently to me, and in a conditional way, but for me they are no longer talking about trust, they are talking about expectation.

  3. Yeah, this is very thought provoking Jess, as usual.

    We trust also so they can trust themselves because when children are conditioned by control (as control says ‘I can’t trust you’) then they grow up not knowing themselves and not trusting themselves.

    Add trust to generate self-trust.
    Are you saying… no need to trust? Trust is the parents issue?

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