Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Keeping Promises With Your Children

"Magic trick: to make people disappear, ask them to fulfill their promises." - Mason Cooley

   A promise is something that seems to its meaning over time. When we're young it floats between a method to get 15 more minutes of play time all the way to the unbreakable bond between child and a friend or parent.

   As a young boy, I questioned the strength of a promise when my parents divorced. Not understanding what divorce really meant, I can recall the fragility of any promise thereafter. I figured if the family wasn't the promise of a bond that lasted, then what was? My buddy promising we'd double date to prom was an unstable prospect, and I had a hard time finding faith in a promise from that point on.

   Fast forward to becoming a father and the definition ebbs and flows again. "I promise we can do it tomorrow" can seem hollow when a parent is just hoping the subject will be forgotten by the next day. Soon, in the blink of an eye, our little ones are calling us out on our promises and we as parents are left caught in a broken bond by our biological constituents.

   A recent promise was made to our 'Lil Miss that we would dress up her bed corner. Shadow boxes, cork board, and artwork were all included in a promise that we would put it all up. It was promised "tomorrow" for three days, until our sweet little one called us out on it, reminded us that we'd promised it for several times. The feeling between us parents was that we needed to keep the simple promises if we hopes she would trust the complex ones. It is also a lesson so that we can trust hers. So we took the time to get her little corner all set up, and the result was well worth the work. She was beaming and wanted to invite all her friends over to see it.

   It was a reminder that we're only as good as our word. While circumstances can change, I believe we need to be more careful when we're promising things to our little ones. They hold us to it and I'm trying to be true to my word more these days.


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