“My kid doesn’t believe me when I tell him I’ll be at his soccer game.”

“I can’t get my child to listen to me.”

“My daughter stopped asking me to play tea party with her.”

“My little girl won’t follow the house rules.”

These are statements that have been voiced by frustrated parents. After some further discussion it comes to light that one of the parent’s areas of weakness is his lack of following through with things he says to his children.

Follow through is an important aspect for raising children.  It is the corner stone of trust, respect and security in the relationship between a parent and child.  A child learns he can trust what a parent says, which provides him with a sense of security in the relationship.  As a parent continues to be a person of integrity, respect is earned by the parent and granted by the child.  Being a person of integrity means following through when he says he’ll be at a soccer game or will attend a tea party. In essence, say what you mean and mean what you say.

On the flip side, when a parent continuously fails to follow through, then distrust, disrespect and insecurity develops in the relationship.  This causes distance between the parent and child. A child is resilient and remains hopeful for an incredible amount of time. However, a child will eventually feel like he is not a priority and will lose hope that his parent will keep his word.  The day the child realizes the parent is not trustworthy is heartbreaking and has a terrible effect on the child’s trust and security in the world. 

The same principle applies to disciplinary actions.  If a child misbehaves and has earned a consequence it is imperative that a parent follows through with the punishment. Rules and consequences provide security and comfort for a child.  The child is able to learn family rules and make the choice to follow them.  He also can feel secure in knowing that there are consequences that will be implemented if a rule is broken.  Remember, when choosing a punishment, healthy discipline is not based on the severity of a consequence, but rather the certainty of the consequence.

On the other side, if a parent makes empty threats and does not follow through the child will soon learn that he can do as he pleases because his parent is not really going to punish him. This creates a spiral effect where the child does not listen and the parent becomes so frustrated he may make unrealistic threats. Because of the nature of these words, there is no follow through. This confirms to the child that his parent won’t do anything when he misbehaves so he continues to do as he pleases. This may lead to even more outrageous and empty threats.  The cycle continues while the child loses trust, respect and security in his parent.  Unfortunately, an estranged relationship is the result. 

Being a parent is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in the world. A parent cares for, influences, and shapes the life of his child. Being a person of integrity is vital to the parent-child relationship. Words are powerful, but mean nothing without actions to back them up. 


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