(Not!) Making Promises

Not Making Promises | The Silver Pen

(Not!) Making Promises

In building healthy relationships with our children, I firmly believe that it is important that our words and our actions match. I grew up in environment in which words and actions didn’t match and I remember feeling very (very!) confused.

One of my girlfriends (whose parenting skills I admire profusely) doesn’t make promises with her children. “I don’t make or take promises,” she told me.  She believes that once we make a promise, we put our integrity on the line.

It took a while for this philosophy to sink in.  NOT making promises with our daughter (a/k/a Suddenly Seven) felt really strange. However, when I thought long & hard about it, not making promises with children (or in general for that matter) makes a ton of sense. See, the thing of it is: circumstances can easily change in unforeseen ways that make a promise untenable, but children don’t understand that. To them, the bond of trust has been broken. And that’s baaaad. Really baaaaad.

It is so easy to use the word “promise.” It is a prevalent word in our culture. How often to we hear, “I promise to do this or that”? The pickle is that promises are easily pushed aside when circumstances change.

When we cease making promises, we are able to keep our words and actions in positive harmony. Additionally – and perhaps more importantly – we model personal integrity to our children. If you ask me, there’s nothing much better than this.

Helping our children learn to walk their talk and to positively match their words and actions is done by modeling behavior. This parenting thing is a BIG JOB, but the Silver Lining is that as I strive to model healthy behavior, I feel like I make myself just a little bit better in the process.

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  1. Carolee Groux says

    I learned NOT to make promises in my early child-raising years with our youngster. She would absolutely "pitch a fit" if something promised did not occur. Usually it was because something else came up that took precedence over "the promise". I even began to say when we talked of an upcoming plan that "I am not promising this will happen for sure" to avoid the consequences if the plan was shelved. I noticed too that I began to avoid the "promise" word entirely to other people as well. This is not to say that I didn't sign up for things, or make some obligations to others, but I avoided the ultimate "promise". It carries with it a heavy obligation that cannot be denied. If you make promises, I absolutely know that sometimes you will fail to fulfill them, and someone will be devastated. Tongue in cheek: I promise you that.