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Features | parenting

The cost of giving your word

By Christian Womanmag

Tim Sisarich is the Executive Director of Focus on the Family (New Zealand), who has his grandmother’s words still ringing in his ears . . .

I started to write this article in the few spare minutes I had between a couple of meetings. I was actually hoping to get it started last night as I sat waiting to pick someone up from the airport, which didn’t happen; nor did it happen when I got up early this morning, before everyone else turned up at the office.

To be completely honest, I found myself thinking of all the excuses I could give to the editor, our great and very understanding editor, as to why I wouldn’t be featuring in that edition. And I had some pretty good ones too.

But as I was running through all these, I realised something scary. Is this what we do . . . as parents, I mean? Do we make promises to our kids, with the best of intentions, and then spend the rest of our lives making great excuses as to why we can’t make it to the school play, to cricket, to the first few days of the family holiday?

It was George Bernard Shaw who said, “Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family.”
But is that true in every instance? I mean, could the way we are living actually be shaping our children to believe that it is in fact ok to be just a little dishonest?

Make no excuse
I only knew one of my grandmothers, my Baba . . . She was not the most maternal of woman, but she loved her yucca and cribbage, and she taught me to love those times with her. And it was during one of our games she taught me something that has stuck with me for life (apart from the odd time, like the lead up to writing this!).$$PAGE$$ She said that there was one thing that, when you give it, you should never take back but always keep. It was cryptic to me for a long time, until she finally told me what it was . . . your word. When you give someone your word, you should never take it back but always keep it. If you commit, you commit—no matter the cost.

You know why I share this? I share it because it is not just for us that this is important, but for our children. As I know I’ve said before, children learn far more from what they see than from what they hear.

It seems that a lot of parents feel like they have lost the power to mould, model or shape their own children. I hear lots of reasons for this and lots of blame being cast here, there and everywhere, but never back at themselves.

Maybe, just maybe, those children are simply not seeing the right kind of modelling. They are seeing excuse after excuse after justification after justification. Maybe, just maybe, more of us parents need to take stock of the wisdom of a grandma who was born before the first car appeared on local roads. Maybe we do need to start really keeping our word to our kids. Maybe we need to show them that sometimes there is a cost to keeping our word.

The truth at any price
King Solomon put it this way: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Pr 22:6)

If we are to teach our children the importance of honesty, we have to train them. It might not be ‘PC’ to state it, but our children are most definitely no angels. In fact, the Bible is pretty clear that we are all born with a sinful nature and with the desire to sin. And that is why it is so key that, as parents, we model the right way to live, in every area of our lives.

At the end of the day, if we have a problem with our kids speeding, yet we speed, or if we have a problem with our kids smoking, yet we smoke . . . whatever it is, we need to model for them the best way to live.

I think that my kids are worth at least that much. They’re worth more than any career or deal or party or whatever else seems to get in the way of me showing them that truth is truth at any cost and at any price. Isn’t that the example Jesus left for us to follow?