Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Making and Breaking Promises

“But you promised!” It’s easy to misinterpret a statement as a promise when no promise was intended. Being intentional about what is a promise and what is not can be helpful in avoiding misunderstandings. When you make a promise, it is important to follow through with what you promised.

I attended a seminar recently where the leader asked us to think back to a situation from our childhood where someone broke a promise to us. Each of us was able to vividly remember a situation; it was amazing how much emotion was still attached to these incidents so many years later.

I remembered being promised by my friend’s aunt to be driven up to a lake cabin where my friend was spending a couple weeks in the summer. The aunt cancelled going the day before we were supposed to leave; I was crushed.

One 50-year-old woman recalled being at a pool and being afraid of going down the slide. Her dad was in the water and promised her that he would catch her. However, when she came sliding down, he didn’t catch her. She popped right up after being under water and reasoned that her dad probably just wanted her to learn that she could do it. She clearly remembers that broken promise and her feelings of being deceived.

How do we feel when promises are broken? We often feel betrayed and let down. A broken promise affects our ability to trust that person in the future. Given the significance of promises, it is really important that we only make promises to our children that we are confident we can keep.
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