There's isn't one single word that's the most important word in fostering. But TRUST is right up there with the best of them.
Last night was a Friday night and our eldest looked-after had asked permission to stay up late on the PC as his best internet friend, who lives in Kansas wanted to play online a bit later than 4pm Wizard Of Oz time. He asked for midnight.
A discussion. No way us two old fogies could manage to guarantee staying awake that long after a long week.
It was agreed that if we were zonked out he'd still shut up the PC and come to bed at midnight.
"How will you know I went to bed at 12.00?"
I replied; "We trust you".
Then I watched his little face. He pushed out his bottom lip and thrust out his jaw. Nodded at me unblinking, turned and left the room about two feet taller.
He was in bed at 12.05am. I wasn't hard asleep, just in that nether nap where you're not entirely awake but aware. I heard him on the stairs, heard him in the bathroom.
But dear God the preparation that went into that show of TRUST:
I've met his Kansas friend, inasmuch as I've seen him talking on Skype so I know he's who he say's he is.
I've listened to their many chats - his door has to stay open when he's on the net.
The PC has all the parental controls going, but best of all we've twinned a tablet to his PC so we know everything he does. He doesn't know this, at least we haven't told him totally, but he thinks the internet is somehow all joined up in our house, not for security - it's a social thing.
Not only those precautions: I double checked every door, front, back and side were locked. I double checked the gas was off. The boiler goes off at ten, I left it like that, I didn't want the house so cosy he'd nod off in his chair and wake confused in the wee hours.
Plus, as I mentioned, I stayed awake myself, drifting in and out until he went to bed.
When he went to bed I resisted the urge to call: "Well done!".
Instead, next morning I casually said: "What time did you call it a night last night?'
He replied casually "Oh about twelve, something like that".
You don't need me to say that he trusts us more now that he knows we trust him.
Would I leave a twenty lying on the hall table for when the pizza arrives?
Yes, actually. Same thing, trust.
Have I lost a twenty like that? Yes, but only once, not to him, and that was how I learned you can pay by card over the phone.
But I still leave a twenty out, because every time he sees it he knows he's trusted.
PS, I've just realised while writing this why they call the wee small hours the wee small hours.