In almost every faith, there are sacred vows or covenants we make as a show of obedience. We baptize, christen and bless babies. As parents, we covenant with God to raise children in righteousness. When we marry, we also make sacred vows to be faithful and kind. Often in secret, we pray to God, making promises to do better and to overcome our sins.
It is important, then, that we teach our children how to keep religious covenants. The best way to begin is by instructing them on the importance of a simple promise. Encouraging them to make promises and keep them will help them to make sacred promises as they enter adulthood.
Some examples of promises children can make might be:
To keep her room clean
This is a good place to start. It's something simple that children actually should have responsibility over. Let your child know that you will be checking her room on a certain day each week, and that it should be tidy. This habit will stay with her as she goes out on their own. (Well, hopefully.)
To be home by dinnertime
Family dinners are a sacred time for everyone to connect and relax. (Spoken by a mom with no toddlers in her home.) Ask your children to promise to be home by whatever o'clock every day from play. Equip them with a timepiece. In a perfect world, dinnertime will be sacred when they raise their own families.
To complete all homework each night
This is something you can easily monitor daily. Better grades mean better opportunities.
To be kind to siblings
Encourage strong relationships with your children so that they will have kindred spirits to connect with as adults.
To put a portion of his allowance or monetary gifts into savings
Asking for this promise will help him be financially responsible as he matures.
To keep their speech clean
A simple promise to not use bad language or engage in dirty joke telling.
To remain chaste until marriage
This is a common promise among many faiths. Asking for a promise that they will wait until they are married for sexual relations is a good idea for many reasons.
To pray daily
Telling children they should promise to pray daily will help them to establish a good communication with God and to rely on him in times of doubt or uncertainty.
To do at least one kind act every day
Teach your children to love to serve by having them promise to do something nice for someone each day.
To not smoke, drink, take drugs or view pornography
Making them aware of the dangers involved in addictions will encourage them to make and keep this vital promise.
Making promises alone isn't enough. They need to make a concerted effort to keep every single promise they make in order to establish the sacredness of them.
There are probably many more ideas that you will come up with as you raise your children. Like reading at least one good book a month or taking care of a pet they ask for.
The key steps with teaching them promises are:
Explaining exactly what a promise, vow or covenant is.
Helping them understand that their character will be built upon them keeping a promise that they make.
That they shouldn't make a promise unless they are prepared to keep it at all cost.
That if they break a promise, it is serious, but that repentance is always available to them and that it is important that they do so and then let it go, vowing to keep it once again.
That keeping promises will help them as adults with aspects of their lives that are even more important, such as marriage and careers.
Simple childhood promises help establish a pattern of lifelong commitment that they can carry into their adult lives and pass on to their own children. Consider teaching this valuable lesson in a family night or even one-on-one with your kids. Make it a special evening when you can discuss it without outside interference.