When my daughter McKenna was in second grade we went to an orthodontics office for a consultation on her teeth. She was worried because she had never seen an orthodontist before. I assured her it would just be a consultation and that I was certain it was too soon for braces. I went on to tell her about the horrifying experience I had when I was about her age, when I had braces and head gear. I said, “At least you won’t have to have head gear, which is a metal brace hooked to brackets and a band around your head.” I told her it hurts, looks funny and is just horrible. My assurance put her at ease and she was chatty on the rest of the drive.
When we arrived at the office we were escorted to the consultation room. She was still a little apprehensive but sat there like a trooper. I reiterated that she would be just fine. Fast forward to when the orthodontist came in. She thoroughly examined my daughter’s teeth and bite and then exclaimed that she would in fact need braces. I nodded a kind of “good call, Doctor” expression because we figured that would be the case. Then the doctor made comments as to the exact process. I figured they’d watch her and she’d get her braces in a year or two. When I asked just how soon, our doctor told me as soon as possible, about seven to ten days after they took impressions.
My mind was swirling because I had just told her that she wouldn’t get braces this soon. I saved face by encouraging her that if she got them now, she would get them out of the way while she was young, which was better. Mini-crisis was thwarted, or so I thought. Then the orthodontist uttered the worst words I could have imagined: “You are going to have to wear head gear.”
My heart sank. I had just told my daughter how horrible head gear was, that it hurt and surely she wouldn’t have to go through it. I looked over at her as she reclined in the chair and saw large tears streaming down her cheeks. I am sure a child’s tears did not surprise the staff. The tears that did surprise them were mine, as I had given my daughter a “parent promise” that couldn’t be kept. Unintentional, yet still painful, as I didn’t want to let my daughter down. I want to be the one who always leads her, builds her up and comforts her. Unfortunately this is not always possible, because we parents are human.
Psalm 118:9: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
Our children see us as their ultimate protectors, but they need to know we are human. It is important to teach our kids that the promises and statements made by us are probably the most reliable they will find. However, we need to clarify that the only true promises, kept 100% of the time, are the ones made by their heavenly Father.
- 1 Chronicles 16:34—God promised His love will never fail.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4—God promised comfort in our trials.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17—God promises new life in Christ.
There are so many promises that God has reliably made to us. I urge you to read the Bible with your kids and have them write down God’s promises as you encounter them—memorize them so you can both be reminded that His promises are not broken even when those of people sometimes are.
My unkept promise was minor and did not have long-lasting effects. My daughter wore her braces and head gear like a trooper and has beautiful teeth to show for it. The staff at the orthodontics office was wonderful and saw us through the whole process. The events were a good reminder to me to not make statements or promises that I couldn’t back up with truth or follow through on.
If you find yourself not being able to hold up a parent promise, whether it be minor like mine over a dental visit or a serious emotional promise, such as the cancer won’t come back, your loved one will come back, etc., please know you can still have peace. For the promises God has made to our children are reliable promises made also to us.
John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4
I would love to hear from you! What parent promises have you been unable to keep?
Please share in the comment section below.
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