I was randomly watching a morning news program several months ago and saw an interview with Stephen Covey that fascinated me. He was talking about building relationships with children, and the specific point he made was to never break a promise.
“No sweat,” I thought to myself. I don’t have a problem in this area.
Then Covey threw a monkey wrench into the works. I can’t recall the exact quote, but his basic premise was that anything we tell children we’re going to do qualifies as a promise.
Talk about upping the ante. Ouch.
Covey said that anytime we tell a child “I’m going to do x” that we need to either follow through with that, or ask directly to be released from the promise. If the child won’t release you, then find a way to keep the promise.
The interview popped into my head last week when I was hanging a hook in the younger boys’ closet so they could put their bathrobes away themselves. They’ve had the robes since Christmas, and have had to either leave them on the floor or ask me to hang them up out of reach in the closet.
It took me almost 7 months, but I finally bought the hook and installed it. The kicker is that it was a $2 purchase and took me all of 5 minutes to install. It’s silly how long I put off such a simple task. By hanging the hook, I’m communicating to my boys that they’re important to me (plus reaping the extra bonus of no more robes on the floor).
So here’s my challenge to myself and to you: Can you go a whole day and not break a single promise (or get a release) to your kids? How about a week?
In the meantime, I have another hook to hang…promised to take care of that 3 weeks ago. My record is improving!
Originally posted at GNMParents, now archived at ForeverParenting.com
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to keep promises.