breaking promises

7 Things That Happen When You Break Promises to Your Children

In the grand scheme, breaking promises to our kids seems pretty inconsequential. After all, the promises are usually not matters of life or death—a hasty assurance that we’ll stop for ice cream after school, a vow that since I’m too tired to read tonight, tomorrow night we’ll read two books instead of one. And then life happens. Adult pressures, deadlines, and fatigue set in, and we just say, “Sorry, but it’s not going to happen the way I said.” You really meant it when you said it, but now, following through seems completely inconvenient if not impossible.

If our kids’ fleeting disappointment were the only negative outcome from our broken promises, that would be one thing. But our words have power, and when we misuse them, it’s a pretty big deal. Here are 7 things that happen when you break promises to your kids.

1. We teach them not to trust us.

If your child can’t trust you with the little promises, how will they trust you in the big ones?

2. We disappoint them.

No child’s life is disappointment-free, but we can minimize some disappointments by keeping our word.

3. We make them feel unimportant.

Your children will notice if you keep your word to others but not to them. If your friends, TV watching, and hobbies contribute to your not keeping your promises to your children, it’s time for a promise-adjustment. When you keep your promises to your children, you are saying, “You are very important to me.” 

4. We lose their respect.

Dads who keep breaking promises will lose their children’s respect. Integrity is a key ingredient of respect. If you are not true to your word, you are not showing integrity. Eventually, your children will stop respecting you.

5. We get the opportunity to explain.

Sometimes, for legitimate reasons, we cannot keep a promise to our children. When this happens, explain why. Maybe your schedule took a turn you didn’t expect. Maybe something took longer than you expected, or you were given more information and changed your mind. Whatever the reason, when you break a promise, explain why to your child and reiterate that you will do your best not to let it happen often. Here is how to apologize to your child during those times.

6. We can ask for forgiveness.

Dads are human. We mess up. After you’ve explained the why of your broken promise, ask for forgiveness from your child.

if you want your child to be a promise keeper, you need to be one too.

7. We create promise breakers in our children.

It’s the old truth of parenting—monkey see, monkey do. So if you want your child to be a promise keeper, you need to be one too.

Sound off: How do you keep from breaking promises to your kids?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it’s important to keep promises?”