It’s called trustworthy for a reason

Less than a month before my younger brother’s high school graduation, my mother was getting concerned that he was never going to complete the service hours required to pass his government class. That angst wasn’t entirely without merit. I don’t remember the specifics of the requirement, but with 30 days to go, the math was definitely not in his favor.

So while I was on a visit home from college, my mom somehow convinced me to inquire about the service status, and if necessary, to prod my brother into action.

Let’s just say my intervention was not at all well received.

I can see points on both sides here. The service hours were required to pass the class. No pass, no graduation. That would have been a calamitous end to an otherwise successful high school career.

But my brother’s resolute determination not to field status inquiries just made my mother that much more anxious. Imagine if instead he’d replied,

“Mom, I’ve got straight A’s, I’m ranked #1 in my class, I’ve been accepted to Harvard, and you’ve never had to ask me to do my work. I know this project is important. I won’t come to you a month from now and break the news that I’m not graduating from high school because I didn’t get this done. Please, just trust me.”

It probably would have made both their lives easier.

Parents, your kids will need to manage their lives without you once they leave for college. The time to let them develop those skills is now. And that will require some trust on your part.

But students, if you want your parents’ trust, you’ll need to earn it. The most effective way to do that is through your actions. Take responsibility for things you can do yourself. Show them that you’re able and willing to drive your own college process. Learn from your occasional mistakes. Then keep demonstrating that you deserve that trust.

And don’t forget that your parents have likely spent most of your life taking care of things for you. It’s nearly impossible for them to release all that responsibility overnight. It’s a transition, one that will require you to occasionally provide status updates you may rather not provide. Provide them anyway. Give a little more information than you’re inclined to. Doing so will eventually lessen their need to check up on you. And if it doesn’t, you’ll have the demonstrated track record necessary to have a conversation about giving you a little more credit, and a little more trust.

It’s called trustworthy for a reason.