Kids have amazing–if selective–memories. For instance, my children might not be able to remember to put on actual shoes before getting in the car to run errands with Mom, but if I promise on Tuesday that we’ll get ice cream after school on Friday, you can bet it will be the first thing out of their mouths when they hop in the car Friday afternoon. Fascinating.
It’s just as well because that accountability pushes us as parents to be true to our word. We often make promises with the best of intentions and then…life happens. Circumstances change, the schedule gets busy, and we can think of multiple reasons why following through with our pledge is too inconvenient or impossible.
But there’s more importance lying underneath the surface of those little everyday promises. It’s the foundation of a relationship, the construction of lifelong character, and the setting of a standard to a high level. Consider these 5 good reasons to keep your promises to your kids.
1. Keeping promises teaches your kids they can trust you.
We want our children to take us at our word about all sorts of important things: faith, values, relationships, etc. If they can’t trust us in the little things, how can they trust us in the big things? Following through on the day-to-day promises teaches that when mom says it, you can bank on it.
2. Keeping promises to your kids models personal integrity.
Want your kids to be the kind of people who keep their promises? Don’t just talk about it–model it for them. The more your children observe you keeping your word to them and others, even when it’s not easy, the more likely they will be to do the same.
3. Keeping promises to your kids tells them they are important.
Your child will notice if you keep your word to others, but not to them. How you prioritize your time and, therefore, your life is not lost on them. If you have time for all of your hobbies and favorite TV shows but no “time” to take them to the park as promised, it telegraphs to them that they are less important than those other things you chose to do with your day. Feeling valued is fundamental to any relationship. If you want a strong relationship with your child, keep your promises. So start with these 10 Ways to Love Your Child.
4. Keeping promises to your kids builds respect.
How many times have you heard a parent lament that their children just don’t respect them? It’s not always the case, but sometimes that respect has been eroded because the child sees a lack of integrity in the parent. Integrity is a key ingredient in respect. When you keep your promises to your children and others, you show them that you are deserving of their respect.
5. Keeping promises to your kids teaches them how to have good relationships.
Relationships are built on trust: in the home, in the workplace, in all sorts of contexts. By modeling promise keeping with your children, you’re equipping them to be better spouses, better employers and employees, and better friends. Training your child to treat people well will result in better relationships for him throughout life and a better life as a result!
Feel like you’ve dropped the ball in this area with your kids? You’re not alone; most of us have at one time or another. The key is to keep it from becoming a habit because our habits are ultimately who we are. You can get back on track by offering your child a sincere apology and working on keeping your promises, big and small, going forward.
Have you ever dropped the ball on keeping a promise to your kids?
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.