Building trust is the foundation of a family

December 15, 2015

Our family loves musicals, whether we are in the orchestra pit, onstage, or in the audience. We love the music, the acting, and even the mishaps that occur once in a while.


We recently attended a local production of Mary Poppins and were amazed at the work that had been put into the show. There was even a table that broke in half, then repaired itself magically. It may be the only prop table to ever receive its own applause.


During curtain call, Maryn Tueller, who played Mary, glided in from 15 feet above the stage and landed so gently she didn’t even have to bend her knees. She was attached to a pulley system that had been rented for the show. I knew she must have had complete trust in the person running the pulleys. Her character depended not only on her acting and vocal abilities; it also depended on her flawless entrances.


That was why she asked the person she could trust more than anyone to run the pulleys—her father.


Robert Tueller is an accomplished musician himself, but for about two weeks, he was Chief Pulley Specialist, keeping his precious daughter safe. There was no mention of him in the program or applause for his role, but that didn’t matter to him. His daughter’s safety and success were his only concerns.


Maryn knows she can trust him, but that trust wasn’t built in two weeks. Robert earned her trust throughout her childhood and teen years. He had her back and she knew it. He wasn’t going to break that trust through unkind words or actions. He was going to be there to hold her up every time she needed it. She could count on him, and on her mother and siblings, no matter what happened.


Children need to know we can be counted on when things are tough. That doesn’t mean we take away the consequences of their actions, but it does mean we are there to help them. They need to know that their family, especially their parents, are constants in their lives.


Robert himself sums up well what this means: “The foundation of family relationships is love, which grows best only in an environment of trust. Children need to be able to trust their parents—both in their relationship with parents, but also in the relationship between their parents.”


Watching Maryn that night in the show, floating down with her signature umbrella, was a lesson to me about trust. We might not be asked to hold the pulleys for our children as they perform in a musical, but we are asked every day to be trustworthy in many smaller, but still significant ways.


Often we consider our integrity towards other people, but neglect to think about how fair and honest we are with our own family. Their self-worth is generally based on how we treat them. If we are kind and considerate, and if our word is good with them even when no one else is watching, then they know that they are valued.


If we break promises, call names, or tell them they are worthless and a failure, then they will not trust us. They will not confide in us. We will not be asked to man the pulley system of their lives when they desperately need the safety and security we could have offered them.


One of those pulley handles could be called “self-esteem,” and another might be “security.” Others might be “love,” “guidance,” and “developing talents and abilities.” If any of these pulley handles are dropped or ignored, our children’s lives might not be as smooth as Maryn’s flight onto the stage.


Occasionally, we might not be able to be everything to everyone at the same time. This isn’t through any fault of our own; it’s just life. At one point, when Burt came in for a landing during a dance number, the stage crew couldn’t get him detached from his cables. It didn’t seem to bother Burt at all. He just kept singing, with the dancers adjusting to cover those who were wrestling with the equipment. Soon it was off, and the show went on.


There was a lesson in that for me, too. I have always been grateful for those who have pitched in when I needed a hand as we raised our family. It would be wise for me to pass along that favor and be prepared to help others when I see a need. There might be a pulley to grab or a cable to detach. Every child needs to have the security of knowing that others care and are going to be there when needed.


Robert and Maryn, and the rest of their family, can trust each other, and with that trust comes love and security and strong family ties built from the cables on the pulley systems of their lives.

Donna Howard is a mother of ten children—yes, ten—a grandmother of six, and has served as a foster parent. She has a bachelor’s degree in clarinet performance and composition. She teaches elementary music methods to education majors and owns her own band instrument repair business.

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