Trust as an Impenetrable Force

In a family, trust is often assumed, without conversation or negotiation, and then suddenly, it breaks for one reason or another.  Because a family has many dynamics to it, this ‘break’ may not be discussed for doing so may weaken someone’s position in the family.  Relationships then shift over time and become more indirect and casual or more blunt and remote.

Trust usually is a vague concept to a family, rarely talked about except in one on one conversations; unrelated to the family unit itself. Individual members ally with other members who share their situational definition of trust. How can a situational definition of trust help a family? It can’t, it’s too mercurial.

The value of trust to a family is huge. Trust is what keeps the family harmonious through multitude tides of triumph and strife.  Trust needs to be an impenetrable force for a family to stay connected.

One family was holding annual family meetings which were treated more like directives than collaborations. The parents/grandparents couldn’t understand why their children and grandchildren weren’t taking on ownership roles with the directives agreed to at preceding family meetings. The children felt like their parents didn’t trust them enough to initiate or move things forward on their own. The children didn’t trust that their Dad would tolerate mistakes, and didn’t trust that their mother would intercede. Their father didn’t quite think the children were all ready to assume leadership roles in the family or the family business while their mother felt that everyone should just get along. And you could begin to see these same traits, those of not trusting, were passing on from the children to their children in being overly permissive or unduly critical with their own children. 

Two years later, from our trust building activities, this family has built a new sense of trust with description and meaning they collectively share. As one family member commented, at the completion of the last family meeting: “Our sense of what trust is has changed. We feel more secure with each other rather than wondering what everyone is really thinking but won’t say. Knowing we have a definition and shared understanding of what trust includes for our family, we talk more freely and call each other out more easily with respect of each other. We didn’t use to do that.  I feel like we respect each other more now.”

Trust is built on a shared understanding of what constitutes trust for the family. It is sustained by the commitment to adhere to that shared understanding of trust. In this way trust becomes an impenetrable force.

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