[tweetmeme source= ‘dadpad’ only_single=false]
Here’s a funny little interaction between a father and son:
Dad: Didn’t you promise to behave while I was gone?
Son: Yes, Sir.
Dad: And didn’t I promise to discipline you if you didn’t?
Son: Yes, Sir, but since I broke my promise, I don’t expect you to ?keep yours.
And here’s the corollary:
Son: Dad, didn’t you promise to come to my game?
Dad: Yes, but I had an important meeting come up.
Son: And didn’t you promise to help me on my homework?
Dad: Yes, but I was too tired, so I got your mother to help instead.
Son: Since you broke your promises, how can you expect me to keep mine?
Not quite as funny, is it? Erwin McManus, in Seizing Your Divine Moment, wrote “Authority can shape what a person does, but influence shapes who a person becomes.” And it happens one interaction at a time.
It can be disheartening to think that the lyrics from the old Sunday school song, “Oh, be careful little ears what you hear” might be applied to my words as a father. Yet, when my kids eagerly invite me to one of their activities, I may hasten to say “yes” out of my eagerness to delight them, only later to find it difficult to comply. Then, not only do I bring disappointment, but I also subtly train them that it’s okay as an adult to not keep your word.
To help in this area, I’ve had to learn to do the “reverse hit-n-run.” To understand how it works, I have to first explain the hit-n-run. This approach is effective with my wife, particularly if she’s deeply engaged in a task. Instead of asking her if she wants to come with me on an errand (notice I’m asking her to engage in my activity), I’ll tell her “Honey, I’m headed to the store in ten minutes, and I’ll check back with you to see if you’d like to come with me.” I’ve hit her with an offer, but I’m running from an immediate answer. By not pressing for a decision, I give her time to see if it’s something she can accommodate. It diffuses the quick “No, can’t you see I’m busy?” reactive response and often achieves harmony in both activities.
So if it can work for her, how about my children? Well, with my kids anyway, it seems as if they expect an answer almost before they ask the question. Not much chance they are going to run after hitting me up. So, I’m the one that has to move—in reverse. “Tell you what, you want me to do that activity with you. It sounds great. But I need to check on a few things first. How about I get back to you in ten minutes with my answer?” That’s the reverse hit-n-run. Now, I have the space I need to see what commitments I can make and keep. Of course, the reverse hit-n-run has its own commitment—I need to respond when I said I would. That’s a promise they hold me to.
If you’ve been challenged, as I have, to keep commitments to the ones you love, try the “hit-n-run,” “reverse hit-n-run” or make up your own drive-by promise-setting approach. Whatever you do, as Jesus commands “let your ‘yes,’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no’” (Matthew 5:37).
SOUND OFF: What are ways you’ve found to make sure you can keep the commitments you make?