My daughter wanted to go to Knott’s Berry Farm. She had attended with her school class, and the amusement park had given them “free” admission tickets for a return trip, which, of course, could only be used if they were accompanied by an adult. How kind of them! My daughter asked if I would take her, and I said, “Sure. That would be fun.” And then I forgot all about it.
“But you promised!” It was now June, a very busy season (long, long lines!) and the certificate was due to expire soon. I sighed inwardly, dreading every minute of the trip, but put on the big fake smile and took my daughter. After all, a promise is a promise!
Why is keeping a promise so important? This is what it teaches:
- Integrity and honesty. Keeping your promises helps children to learn that lying is not okay.
- Trust and dependability – Children depend on us to keep our word and we want them to do the same.
- Respect – both giving respect to others and getting respect in return.
- Reputation matters. If a company has a bad reputation due to broken promises, they lose customers. As parents we need to maintain a good reputation and teach our children the benefits of being respected and trusted by others, in both our personal and business relations.
- Your children matter to you – they are important and loved.
An important factor to remember – don’t make a promise that you can’t keep! I once told my son that if he didn’t stop crying by the time I hung up the phone, he could not go to the store with me. When I was done with my phone call, he was still crying. He was too young to leave on his own, there was no one else to watch him, and I had to go to the store. So I took him with me and have paid the price for not keeping my word. If I threaten him with a punishment, he has no reason to believe that I would follow through on that punishment. I now keep my word and he has slowly come to realize that. Is is so important to “say what you mean and mean what you say.”
There are times, through no fault of our own, when we have to break a promise. Make sure that you explain why, apologize, and ask forgiveness. Offer an alternative.
Remember that it might not seem like much to you, but in the eyes of a child, keeping promises is a very big deal.