Mama Sandy: To promise or not to promise

Many of our promises to our kids seem pretty inconsequential. A hasty assurance that we will stop for pizza after school on Friday. A deal that if she/he does her chores before noon you will drive them to a friend’s house. A vow that since mummy is too tired to read tonight, tomorrow night she will read two books instead of one.

These promises are all possible to fulfill and are not even expensive per se, until 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.

As a mother of three, wife, Sunday school teacher, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, believe me when I say it is tough being all the above and even harder to remember the promises I made to my children and nieces. Problem is explaining all I have to juggle to them will not help at all until I deliver on the said promise.

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 the things that happen when you break promises to your kids:

– Trust is broken.  If your child cannot trust you in the little promises, how will they trust you in the big ones? The ones that may involve real decision making.

– We disappoint them.  No child’s life is disappointment-free, but we can minimise some disappointments by keeping our word. It hurts as an adult when a person disappoints you now imagine the pain it causes on a child who is not yet emotionally defensive.

– We make them feel unimportant.  Your child will notice if you keep your word to others, but not to them.  If your friends, watching TV, facebooking and hobbies contribute to your not keeping your promises to your children, it is time for a promise-adjustment.  When you keep your promises to your children, you are saying, “You are very important to me and I mean it”.

– 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.

– 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 you got delayed, or you 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.

And please, do not add more promises to those you have failed to fulfill. It will only make the situation ugly. And if you are one of those who has very talkative children it will give them reason to go telling whoever cares to listen that you are not a good parent.