As parents we are busy. We are running left and right, managing work, meetings, deadlines, cooking food, and much more. As if all that isn't enough, we need to do the hard job of “Educate” our children. Educate kids is hard work, or at least it is for me.
My dad was a great dad when I grow up, he work really hard and provide for us all that he consider important and much more. Sadly he wasn't great at keeping promises. He was always busy. What I remember (maybe in an unfair way) is that promises always had a hidden clause. There was always a way to use the escape clause. The fact is that what I remember is that he wasn't great at keeping promises. It may be an unfair childhood memory, but it is the one at had; other than that he was great dad and provide for us. He is generous and much, much more.
But the fact is that I remember many of those promises that where broke, that had that secret clause, the escape clause that I never understood. Eventually I lose hope, and stop expecting and assuming that those promises where ever going to happen. That had bring really nice unexpected surprises when they do. My dad was busy, I don't know how many hours he work on his business but I will guess 90 or 100 hours per week. I am guessing that because he was tired, overworked and most likely exhausted didn't remember of have the energy to make those promises a reality. It is a memory that I have, that it is not pleasant. As I grow up, I always said that I was going to be extra careful keeping promises to my kids.
When my wife and I got pregnant, I worry over this again, I wasn't sure how to do it. Some promises are little things, like “You are not allowed to use your scissors until Sunday because you cut your socks” or “If your room is not picked up on Saturday Morning there is no Mickey Mouse Club on the TV” or “we will play Legos tomorrow afternoon” easy promises to forgot and break. We don't do it because we meant to, but because we have grown up problems that for some reason make us forget. The problem with this is that as “Play Lego” may not seen as important as “Send sales agreement”, for our kids it is the most important thing in the world. How we expect that they share their big problems during their teenage years if we don't consider their toddler problems important enough?
This is when I decided to stop and think on how to keep those promises, at least have them present in the day to day to be able to renegotiate. Only a promise renegotiate to the excess count as a broken one. I made two distinctions. One are time sensitive events, like: “We will Play Lego tomorrow” or “Next Week we can come to the Park” or “I will call your best friend parents to plan a play date”. Those things enter into my GTD system.
– “We will Play Lego tomorrow”: will make his way to the calendar as an tentative event.
– “Next Week we can come to the Park” & “I will call your best friend parents to plan a will play date”: will get into my inbox for planing or re-negotiation.
Where do you place the reminder that you told her that she could not play with scissors until Sunday because she cut her socks? Into the system of course. I have a context called @TO BE AWARE OF: and it is used as a reminder of stuff that I need to be aware. I don't want my calendar clutter with “No TV tomorrow” or “Can use scissors until Sunday” or any of those reminders, but a particular context do wonders. I check them often enough to be reminded and more importantly to be able to keep my promises.
These are things that compared to the things we must handle, are minuscule, almost irrelevant, but for our kids meant the world, and more importantly are this little agreements the ones that they will use as examples to make his future decisions. As good examples, or as examples to avoid. The choice is yours as a parent, if you want to be the example or the counter example.