I am a huge believer in the saying, “my word is my bond.” When I tell someone I’m going to do something, I will try and move mountains to stick to my promise. And I believe integrity and trust are two of the most important qualities you can instill in your child.
Because leading by example is the best teacher, I try to show through action how important it is to keep a promise. I believe most good parents do the same.
The problem is when life throws you a curveball and you CAN’T stick to your original promise. What do you do then? Because at some point in your parenting career, this WILL happen and your child will inevitably be disappointed.
It happened to me the other day. I had promised my son he could go with me to pick out decorations at the Dollar Store for a birthday party. Now, at our age, navigating the Dollar Store right before St Patrick’s day sounds like a logistical nightmare. But for a toddler – that’s a super exciting endeavor.
Due to a crazy day and traffic, I picked him up from preschool much later than I anticipated and prayed he had forgotten about the Dollar Store. But as anyone with a kid knows, they don’t let anything get past them.
“Mommy, are we going to pick out decorations now?”
My heart sunk. It was hands-down the last thing I wanted to do: fight rush hour to drive to a store that was likely going to close before we even got there. This would also put a wrench in making dinner and cleaning the house.
So I was faced with a dilemma that every parent is faced with and that is:
Is it more important to teach your child to do what they say they are going to do or to teach them that plans sometimes fall through due to extenuating circumstances and you have to take that in stride?
To be honest, I really don’t know which life lesson is more important and I struggle to understand that line. We ended up forgoing the trip to the dollar store with the compromise that we’ll go tomorrow, but he was clearly disappointed and that made me feel bad. Like, REALLY bad.
On the other hand, I wondered if managing disappointment is not just another thing we have to teach our children to navigate, because plans and promises are often thwarted by life’s idiosyncrasies.
What are YOUR thoughts? What would you have done? And which lesson do you think is more important?