Cinderella Castle


Ask Rene:
My Husband Made A Promise To Our Daughter That We Can’t Keep! Help!


Hi Rene,

I need your advice!

Our daughter Sally has been struggling at school recently – so in an effort to motivate her my husband, Derek (in a moment of weakness) told Sally we would all go to Walt Disney World if she improved her grades.

Well Sally worked really hard and is now doing much better in school… but as you may have guessed, now we’re not in a financial position to afford the trip. I was recently laid off from my job and my husband’s hours have been cut. Any sort of holiday is just not feasible at the moment.

I’m angry with Derek for making a promise he can’t keep and don’t know how to tell Sally she now can’t go. Should we just put the trip on a credit card and go anyway? Or tell Sally the truth…

Please help Rene – I trust your instincts!

Carolina, Memphis



Dear Carolina:

Thanks for writing. I can see where this is troubling. The one critical piece of information missing from your letter is Sally’s age. For the sake of this answer I am going to assume she’s in late elementary or middle school, which would put her between 10 and 13 or so. If I were in your shoes there are a couple of things I would do.

1. Tell Sally The Truth

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One of the things that we as parents try to do is protect our children from all sorts of adversity. The problem is that leaves them woefully ill equipped for the real world. I do not see anything wrong with sitting Sally down and telling her the truth about your financial situation. Obviously you are not going to go into great, big, hairy detail, but you can explain to her that your daddy’s working less and you lost your job so you’re all going to have to tighten belts and sacrifice a little. I did this about a year and a half ago with my own kids. I had not been working for a while and had to explain to them that things were a little tough. But I was honest and reassuring and made it seem like we were all in this together (which we were) and enlisted their help in things like turning off lights and cutting back on dining out. The fact that we were a team made that bitter pill a bit easier going down. It was sort of a family adventure and they learned resiliency from it; Sally will too.