Understanding the effects of broken promises can hopefully make you mindful of making and breaking promises.
“You are just like ma, you make promises you can’t keep!”
An emotional outburst by my daughters directed at their dad. Their disappointment was apparent.
It all happened when their grandmother promised to buy them an ice cream after school. Something came up and they had to take a detour from the ice cream shop. Postponed to the next day and still no ice cream. Her excuse was that she either forgot or didn’t have enough money to buy the ice cream. Of course they saw this as just another empty promise.
Then my husband promised that they can take the dogs for a walk to the park. However this never materialised as the weather was not conducive on that day and let’s just say life got in the way and it never happened the next day either. Then came the weekend and again the promise was not followed through. He completely forgot what he promised them in the week as he was preoccupied with work.
Although breaking his promise was unintentional – the fact of the matter is he slipped up. At that moment, they wanted no comfort, just an explanation and affirmation that it will not happen again.
The negative effects of a broken promise
A child understand the word “promise” as a declaration. Followed with an action. Breaking this promise is a pretty big deal to them. As adults, we might see a little promise as insignificant. No matter how big or small, a broken promise is something that could form part of a child’s memory for years to come. Those who continuously face broken promises; start to anticipate disappointment.
It’s understandable that life happens and so many things consume our time. We end up forgetting about what we promised. Breaking the promise might not be intentional but children often don’t see it that way. Their interpretation is that we went back on our word.
Continuously breaking promises can compromise your relationship with your child.
These empty promises can lead to trust issues. As parents we want our children to believe what we say. Continuously making empty promises and not following through on it will jeopardize that trust.
Forever making and breaking promises can lead to disrespect. Disappointment spills over to anger as you not honoring your word.
The words might be forgotten of the broken promise but they will never forget how it made them feel. They start feeling unimportant, worthless, sad and rejected.
Brushing it off, not explaining why a promise was broken and not asking for forgiveness allows our children to question our morals and values. As they grow older, they will adopt this behaviour.
In life, our children will face many disappointments and there will be times when other people break promises made to them. As parents we need to give them the necessary support so that they will have the ability to deal with this kind of disappointment in the future.
So next time choose your words wisely and instead of saying “you promise” rather opt for words like “we will see” or “if there is time, we can try”.
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