Can I trust you
“You're so mean!” my middle kid yells at me. “You're always so mean!”
The occasion for his anger is that his mother and I have instituted a new rule that requires him to have adult supervision for any playdates that he arranges. He isn't grounded exactly. He can still have friends over to our place, and he can still go visit friends, but only if I've had a chance to talk to the friends' parents first and made clear that he is not to go off places on his own.
This new rule was necessitated by a series of incidents that occurred when we allowed him to go to the park with his friends unsupervised. It wasn't that he was doing anything really terrible, but there were several reports from other people of general rudeness and juvenile silliness, and he had also developed a habit of coming home far later than he was instructed.
So, when he yells at me about my meanness, I tell him that I'd like to be able to trust him, but that there have been too many times when he has abused my trust, so now I have to be stricter. I tell him that I'd like to treat him like a big kid, but that there have been too many times when he has acted immaturely, so now I have to make little kid rules for him.
I also tell him that this won't last forever, that if he can show himself trustworthy over the next while, his privileges will be returned to him. I tell him that it's up to him, that his behaviour will determine how far I can trust him.
He might feel like this is meanness on my part, but this won't be the last time in his life where trust must be earned, and the next time something bigger than playdates might be on the line.