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Promises are meant to be kept

With a toddler’s short memory, it’s tempting to make promises you cannot keep. But there’s an important resason why I still do.

As the bundy clock in the office struck 7 p.m. I punched in my card and hurriedly called my husband, “Let’s go, we have to get the kids and go to the nearest Time Zone.”

It’s a Monday and most malls would be closing early. But we had to try. It was a promise.

Weekends are usually “ride days” for our girls. We go to Time Zone where we do the rounds of their favorite games and rides, we have dinner and we go home. The past weekend, we were not able to go as planned because of various chores.

On Sunday evening, my eldest daughter Jamaine asked me if we were still going to the mall. I told her we can’t because it’s already closed. Apparently, she was carrying around her tokens the whole day expecting we would go out for “ride day.”

“Well, we can go tomorrow,” I said. It slipped my mind that it was workday Monday but I already gave my word and I had to fulfill it.

When we picked up the girls at home, they were all excited and squealing in delight inside the car. After hubby did his best to dash through the highway, we were at the mall by 8pm, just enough time to have a couple of rides and games before the mall closes at 9pm.

The girls were happy to have all the rides for themselves because there were very few people there on the weekday. I was tired but too happy to even notice. Though I wanted to hit the bed early, my girls’ happiness and trust mattered more to me.

Building trust

If there’s one thing I’ve resolved early on as a parent, it’s to build trust with my kids. I never use the word “promise” with them. But whenever I say I will do something or give them something, no matter how big or small it is, I will go to great lengths to fulfill it no matter what.

I believe this has been crucial to our relationship.

I find that my children listen to me and they are obedient, most of the time. I’d like to think it’s because they know and they are confident that Mommy always means what she says.

Sometimes when we get into a tight spot, say the kids are badgering us or we can’t give them something they want, it’s tempting to tell them anything just so they would stop. We would make empty promises hoping they would forget it the next day. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

And for me, whether they do remember it or not, I keep my promise anyway. I’m trying to teach my kids the value of keeping your word. So that when they’ll say or “promise” to do something like being nice to each other, sharing toys, or eating dinner, they would actually do it because they are growing up with the belief that you should say what you mean and you should do it. And hopefully they will employ this attitude, even as they become adults, and keep their word.

Needless to say I’m careful with what I promise my girls. Lately, Jamaine has been wishing for a toy wagon, something quite expensive and I can’t buy right away. She would ask me for it day after day and I would always tell her, “Mommy, will save up money first and then we’ll buy it when we’ve got enough money.”

Sometimes, I’ll try and strike a compromise, “We won’t but this toy for now because we’ll be saving for the toy wagon, remember?”

I want to be honest with my children all the time. Maybe they won’t understand my explanation just yet, but I’m hoping they would feel my sincerity of trying to explain things to them. It’s always much better than just saying “No!” “We can’t” or “Because I said so.”

I know somewhere along the way they’ll encounter this old cliche that “promises are meant to be broken.” But I want them to remember that promises are meant to be kept.