I have one sibling. My dad has six. When I asked his mother what one piece of advice she would give to a new mom. Her response was: Let Your Yes be Yes and Your No be No.

Words to live by. There is power in the kept word. When we keep our word, people know they can trust us, rely on us and depend on us.

At my senior banquet in college I received an award for being “The Most Dependable.”

That spoke volumes to me.

The fact that others felt that they could depend on me was encouraging.

But, at that stage in my life, I didn’t have to deal with many real life stresses. I was in college. I didn’t have to cook my own meals. I didn’t have to pay for a monthly electric bill or home mortgage. Keeping a home together and raising kids certainly were not in the picture.

Even though all of the above are a tremendous blessing, they don’t come without a cost. And I am not just speaking of finances. There is a mental maturity that one obtains as they learn to cope with the difficult days of parenting, home ownership and basically life in general! I’m sure that due to life experiences and situations some people have obtained this maturity by the time they reached college, but, I certainly didn’t!

When I began raising children I realized that this is where the rubber meets the road. How dependable was I, really?

When I tell my two year old they can watch Bob The Builder after lunch, do I follow through? If I don’t, he will be heartbroken. In his mind he was lied to.

Empty promises are dangerous. We don’t even have to use the words, “I promise.” If we say something, no matter how young the child or how menial the situation, we need to make an effort to follow through. In their little minds we gave them our word. The truth is, when we say we are going to do something, we are giving our word.

I learned very quickly, as a parent, that in all reality I wasn’t very dependable. I would say things to my children and not follow through way more than I care to share!

Kids remember more than we think.

They may not say anything but may be holding it in, counting the times they have been let down and eventually not trust what you say anymore, leading to disrespect.

Or, they may say something. Some not so nice somethings. Some hurtful somethings out of the anger and frustration of being let down.

I completely get what my Grandmother meant. Be true to your word and you will be spared from much grief in child-rearing! I get it now. Have I arrived? Far from it. But I have determined in my parenting to keep my word. To not say anything unless I am confident that I can follow through. I am no longer quick to commit to anything verbally with my children. I don’t want to crush their spirits or drive them further from me due to lack of trust.

There is power in simply saying, “I don’t know,” “ask me later,” or “I’ll let you know.” I am learning to use these statements instead of saying yes or no to my children’s requests right away. Doing this has helped me gain trust and respect from my children. When are children respect us as parents they are more willing to obey us and it helps the home run much more smoothly.

When we keep our word, we are strengthening our relationship with our children because we are abiding by a biblical principle and putting the Lord’s ways first rather than our own. We are making a conscience choice that in the long run will help us rather than hurt us.

Thanks, Grandma, for the good advice!