‘The Pink Marshmallow and The White Room’ was the story my daughter enthusiastically shared during our family meal. Coming home exhausted from her training to become a counsellor, my fifteen-years-old daughter was radiating happiness. “They teach us important values and develop our skills,” she shouted. By sunset, she went on with her story: “Most children have trust issues due to the way their parents raised them. Years ago an experiment was done in which children were left in a room completely painted and furnished in white with only one pink marshmallow on the table. The kids, left alone in the room one by one, were promised to receive plenty of marshmallow if they succeeded not to eat the one left inside. With most children failing to wait, researchers concluded that kids had ‘trust issues‘. They were promised by their parents with various stuff and the promises – most of the time- weren’t kept.”
Reflecting on my daughter’s story, I thought of the children’s first classrooms; their homes. What do they truly learn there? Kids are born observants. What do they observe for years among their families before engaging with the outer world? And to which extent does it affect their behaviour, attitudes, personalities, values and beliefs?
My daughter’s voice echoed in my mind for days; ‘trust issues‘. It explained a lot about people’s behaviours in relationships and at the work place. Many people were brought up distrusting others and accordingly not being trustworthy themselves. As if the default setting between people was distrust and trust was the exception.
When my son was four, my husband decided to get him a tricycle during a weekend. I was excited about it; my first child and his first bike. I was about to share the news with my boy when my partner winked to me. In private, he asked me not to tell him about the plan. “Wait until we go and get it. I don’t want to promise him and fail.” “Why would you fail?” I asked. “What if anything happens and caught me from getting it during the weekend? He won’t be able to trust me later.” Little did I know that trust starts at home with the simplest things at a very early age.