Our actions create a track record that builds our reputation. A character of reliability allows us to enjoy relationships founded in trust and mutual respect, leading people to not just believe us, but to believe in us. Unreliable people confuse and inconvenience others for the sake of themselves. As we teach our children about the importance of being reliable, remember that while they learn from what we say, they learn more from what we do.
If we are telling a story, and we get the details wrong, our friends may stop believing us. People who don’t trust us often stop coming around. Outright deceptions such as lying, cheating, and stealing destroy trust. Subtle duplicities, such as half-truths and misleading omissions can do just as much damage.
Honesty is saying what we mean and meaning what we say. Even if telling someone the truth is difficult, people who shoot straight develop a reputation for being reliable. If we make plans, don’t leave anyone hanging. If we make a promise, come through. Honesty will always be in style.
Be Consistent & Finish What We Start
When we start something, finish it. Don’t be a fair-weather friend, there for loved ones during good times and absent during times of crisis. Avoid the pitfalls of starting multiple projects, only to complete none. When we lack consistency, we won’t earn trust—and worse—we won’t completely trust ourselves. It might not always be easy, but consistently doing the right thing is always the best policy.
Whatever We Do, Do Our Best
While we don’t have to be perfect, we should take pride in whatever we set out to do. Whether a task is complex or mindless, we should do our best. If we do things half-way or half-heartedly, we teach that half-assed attitudes are ok, planting seeds of unreliability. By proving we handle the small things with attention to detail, we make ourselves worthy of handling bigger things. Albert Einstein wrote, “Whoever is careless with truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
Reliability of Children
Chinese philosopher, Confucius, said, “A man who lacks reliability is utterly useless.” He DID NOT say the same about children, who fall short on lots of promises—doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, and feeding the pets. When they forget their chores or don’t do them right, it’s not because they’re bad or stubborn, they’re just children! Mothers have plenty of time to instill a character of reliability—through accountability—by 1) being reliable ourselves and 2) expecting reliability, making it a household expectation. Children tend to be forgetful, avoid responsibility, and make excuses. When they’re young, this is normal. It is our maternal duty to correct them.
When kids are unreliable, strive to avoid being disappointed, annoyed, or angered. Focus on the good; teach that a reputation for reliability will open doors that remain closed to the unreliable. As they learn to stay the course, completing tasks and fulfilling promises, they’ll start to realize the positive impact of keeping their commitments. As realization grows into internalization, their self-esteem and self-confidence will grow, along with their capacity for independence. Fathers serve their children well to help them realize the truth of this quote from German statesman, Wolfgang Schauble, “Reliability is the precondition for trust.”
Jobs and Chores
By assigning jobs and chores, we teach the importance of accepting a task and finishing it to completion. The process of receiving an assignment, engaging the work, and looking back on a job well done instills self-satisfaction, reinforces self-confidence, and proves that they can be trusted to do the right thing.
Homework teaches the importance of being reliable. As assignments become more complicated and more time consuming, they help children prepare for the heavier responsibilities of adulthood.
A reliable friend is a healing presence. Conversely, Afghan author, Idries Shah, wrote, “You need not wonder whether you should have an unreliable person as a friend. An unreliable person is nobody’s friend.” When children adopt the habit of reliability, they will discover the positive impact this has on all areas of their lives, especially as they are better able to build and maintain friendships founded in trust and mutual respect. As they grow into adults, they’ll understand that a character of reliability is prerequisite to success.
“The master was full of praise. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”” —Matthew 25:21 NLT
On the Manhattan bank of the Hudson River, a small lighthouse proudly protects boats with his faithful beam. One day a great expanse of gray steel, which also shines a bright light into the fog and darkness, is built over it. The little red lighthouse feels insignificant and useless in comparison but soon learns that… small can be mighty!
I Promise I’ll Find You by Heather Patricia Ward, illustrated by Sheila McGraw (4 – 7 years)
The fear of being separated from loved ones is a universal emotion. I Promise I’ll Find You is like a comforting hug, a warm lap, a reassuring kiss, and the enveloping arms of a parent who pledges, no matter what happens: “I promise I’ll find you.” Together, parents and children will enjoy the gentle language and the calm, reassuring pictures of this thoughtful and important book.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.