Kids love promises. From the time they are young, they learn the power of words—especially when a promise is made. Sometimes it’s when a friend makes a pinky promise. Other times it’s a more weighty promise of security and stability from a parent. They also learn the power of a person’s words when promises are not kept.
By making promises and keeping them, we have the opportunity to prove that our children can trust and can count on their dad, no matter what. So what promises to kids should we make? Here are 7 promises to kids that all dads should make.
1. No question is off limits.
In our home, we’ve implemented an open-door policy so our kids can feel comfortable coming to us with any questions or thoughts at any time. And we have made it known that we want them to come to us for answers about ANYTHING. Nothing is off limits. (Of course, parents always reserve the right to discern if and when their children are ready for certain answers.)
2. I am available anytime, day or night.
Multiple times, one of our children has woken us in the middle of the night to talk about something spiritual or personal on his or her heart. One time in particular, my son shook me on the shoulder. He said, “Dad, sorry to wake you up, but do you remember when you said I could talk to you anytime about anything? I need to talk…”
3. I will never discipline you out of anger.
There’s a big difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline should be motivated by love, but punishment is often motivated by revenge. As dads, we must never “get even” with our kids for their misbehavior. Promising your children that you will only discipline them out of love makes a powerful statement. It reassures them of your right motives and also holds you accountable to both them and God.
4. I will respect your differences.
Your child is not you. God has created them uniquely with their own personalities and preferences. Especially as they get older, having the discretion to know which differences are wrong and which ones are OK is a tough parenting tight rope to walk. As dads, we must choose wisely which battles are and aren’t worth fighting. We must choose to respect their differences.
5. I will never stop loving your mother.
If you are married, the promise you made to your wife on your wedding day is the same promise your kids need to believe in now—that you and their mom will stay together forever. If you aren’t married anymore, your kids still love their mother and need to see you treating her in a loving way. For those who’ve never been married, the way you treat your children’s mom and all women matters. And if you are married to someone who isn’t your children’s mom, love her the way you want them to love their future spouses. No matter your current family situation, loving your kids’ mother is a promise you need to make and one of the greatest gifts you can ever give to your children.
6. I will never stop loving you.
Your child needs to believe in your unconditional love. They need to know that there truly is nowhere they can go and nothing they can ever do that will cause you to stop loving them. And not only do they need to know this, but they also need to hear you say it regularly.
7. I will keep my promises to the best of my ability.
This is a hard promise to make, but one of the most important because it shows your kids that you are only human. You will mess up at times and fail to keep these promises. But you will acknowledge when you’re wrong, and to the best of your ability with God’s help, you will be the dad they need and deserve. You will be a man of your word.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife about keeping promises: 5 Reasons for Keeping Promises to Your Children.
Sound off: Are there other promises that should be added to this list?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it is important to keep promises?”