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7 Things That Happen When You Break Promises to Your Children

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In the big scheme of things, many of our promises to our kids seem pretty inconsequential. A hasty assurance that we’ll stop for ice cream after school on Friday. A deal that if she does her chores before noon you’ll drive her to a friend’s house. A vow that since I’m too tired to read tonight, tomorrow night we’ll read two books instead of one.

And then life happens. Things come up. Adult pressures and deadlines and fatigue set in, and we just say, “Sorry—it’s not going to happen the way I said.” You really meant it when you said it, but now following through seems completely inconvenient if not impossible.

If our kids’ fleeting disappointment was the only negative outcome from our broken promises, that would be one thing. But our words have power, and when we misuse them, it’s a pretty big deal. Consider these seven things that happen when you break promises to your kids:

1. We teach them not to trust us.

If your child can’t trust you in the little promises, how will they trust you in the big ones?

2. We disappoint them.

No child’s life is disappointment-free, but we can minimize some disappointments by keeping our word.

3. We make them feel unimportant.

Your child will notice if you keep your word to others, but not to them. If your friends, TV watching, and hobbies contribute to your not keeping your promises to your children, it’s time for a promise-adjustment. When you keep your promises to your children, you are saying, “You are very important to me”.

4. We make them disrespect us.

Mothers who don’t keep their word will lose their children’s respect. Integrity is a key ingredient of respect. If you are not true to your word, you are not showing integrity. Eventually, that will lead to your children losing respect for you.

5. We get the opportunity to explain.

Sometimes, for legitimate reasons, we cannot keep a promise to our children. When this happens, explain why. Maybe your schedule took a turn you didn’t expect. Maybe something took longer than you expected, or you were given more information and changed your mind. Whatever the reason, when you break a promise explain why to your child and reiterate that you will do your best to not let it happen often. Here is How to Apologize to Your Child to help during those times.

6. We can ask for forgiveness.

Mothers are human. We mess up. After you’ve explained the why of your broken promise, ask for forgiveness from your child.

7. We create promise breakers in our children.

It’s the old truth of parenting…monkey see—monkey do. So if you want your child to be a promise keeper, you need to be one too. Let these 5 Ways to Keep Your Promises to Your Children help you be a promise keeper.

What are some of your helpful strategies for not breaking promises to your kids?


How do you feel when someone breaks a promise?

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