Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Do you consider yourself trustworthy? Would your child agree with you?
Take a walk with me for just a moment. Think back to a time from your childhood when your parent or parental figure promised you something, and you got really excited for it. You were excited because you just knew it was going to be a really fun toy, a great experience, or whatever the promise was it was going to be AMAZING! The day came, and you were so ready. You went to your parent and they said to you, “No. not today. We’re not going.” Or maybe they told you, “I’m not getting you that toy today. Maybe another day.” Whatever the broken promise was, how did it make you feel in that moment? How do you feel thinking about it right now? (Now you know why you might have trust issues.)
Do you really keep the promises that you make to your child? Some things are unavoidable, and you just might have to break a promise every now and again. But do you explain that to your child, or do you treat them as if they aren’t worthy of an explanation? Don’t forget how you felt when your parent broke their promise.
When you consistently break your promises, many different things become true for your child—lack of trust and disrespect are two of those truths. You are teaching your child not to trust you when you constantly break promises in addition to offering no explanation. And if I’m being honest, the more consistent you are with breaking promises, the less your child will want to hear an explanation which at that point is just an excuse.
As they grow, your child is more likely to become a promise breaker because they’ve been showed that it’s acceptable to do so. Do you find that your child disrespects you more often than not? Well…a promise breaker lacks integrity and if you break your promises, your child has a lack of respect because of it. If children have the ability to learn to brush their teeth, they have the ability to learn how to break promises. The cycle will continue, but it doesn’t have to.
Don’t be embarrassed. You have an opportunity to change your behavior which will then change the behavior of your child. Be committed to keeping your promises. And be careful of the language that you use when you make commitments. If you tell your child, “I promise”, they will be looking for whatever it is you promised them. If you show them that your word is bond, then they will carry that same sense of commitment and integrity into ALL of their relationships.
Check yourself! Be consistent! Be reliable!
I also want to be clear…I’m not coming to you from a place of perfect parenthood because let’s face it, there’s no such thing. However, I am actively and intentionally doing my best to keep my promises, and if I have to break a promise, I humble myself enough to explain why even if I initially think that I don’t owe my child an explanation simply because they’re a child. Your child’s feelings matter whether you acknowledge them or not.
“Communicating is the new parenting.”