In the movie Mary Poppins, there is a scene when one of the characters makes a promise that Mary knows won’t be kept. She calls it a “pie crust promise” – easily made and easily broken. Sadly many of us are guilty of making pie crust promises and it undermines our trustworthiness. If your children get in the habit of making promises and not keeping them, their lives will have little integrity.
There is an interesting verse in the Bible – Matthew 5:37. At the heart of this verse is that Christians should be so honest and trustworthy, that if they merely say “yes” or “no”, everyone will believe they are telling the truth and that they will follow through on promises if they are involved.
Unfortunately, parents are often the worst at making pie crust promises. It seems easier to say “maybe next week” instead of “no”. We want to avoid the potential conflict, whining or acting out the word “no” may inspire in oir kids. So we lie, in hopes that when the promised time comes, they will have forgotten. But children are smart. Eventually they figure out our stalling techniques are actually lies. That in turn can undermine their trust in us and encourage them to make their own pie crust promises.
Have regular conversations with your children about honesty, integrity and promise keeping. Point out that the promises we make to God when we become a Christian and the promises we say at weddings are extremely important to keep. With older children and teens, talk about those promises and the damage that is done when they are broken. Encourage your children to notice what happens in their hearts and minds when someone breaks a promise to them. Caution them to never make a promise they know they won’t keep and to apologize and atone when circumstances prevent them from keeping a promise.
As time goes on, point out to your children the promises God makes to us. Note that since God hates lies, He will always keep His promises. You may want to point out various prophecies and their fulfillment. Let them make scripture art of some of God’s promises that encourage them.
If you want to raise children who are honest and trustworthy, teaching them to keep promises is an important part of that training. If they learn that lesson, it can even make your job parenting them easier!