Editor's Note: On the weekends during the month of September, we'll be featuring excerpts from Barbara Canale's new daily devotional for parents of teens, Hope and a Whole Lotta Prayer. In the introduction, the author describes this books as "a vitamin to boost the soul." Enjoy these reflections on how parents of teens can survive--and thrive--during those turbulent years, by turning to God in the troubled and joyful times. --Barb

hope and a whole lotta prayer

A Promise Is a Promise

When a man makes a vow to the Lord or binds himself under oath to a pledge, he shall not violate his word, but must fulfill exactly the promise he has uttered (Numbers 30:3).

An auto parts worker vowed to split any lottery winnings with his restaurant server as her tip. He did win and honored the promise, giving her $92,000. He was a man of his word. Today, it’s hard to find people who value keeping promises.

Has your teenager broken a promise he made to you? Maybe he broke his promise to find a job or get good grades. Maybe your kid had honorable intentions and truly wanted to fulfill his vow but wasn’t able to for good reasons.

For some people, saying they will do something feels just as good as actually doing it. Their intentions begin genuine and admirable, declaring them publicly makes them feel accountable, but then they are unable to carry it through. Perhaps you could encourage your teen to keep intentions private and speak through actions. Try to understand why your teenager talks a big talk but is unable to go the distance. Let him know that small steps can be better than grand gestures.


Lead through example. If it’s hard to do, remember that Jesus led by example. When your adolescent sees you practicing what you preach and following through, he has a model.


Dear Heavenly Father,

Keep me strong as I aspire to live a more Christlike life. Enable (name) to grasp all that is necessary to live a life revolving around Jesus. Help me with my vulnerability. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


From Hope and a Whole Lotta Prayer: Daily Devotions for Parents of Teenagers. Copyright Liguori Publications, 2015. Used with permission. Available at Liguori.org.

About the author:

Courtesy of Parker Stone Photography. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Parker Stone Photography. All rights reserved.

Barbara Canale’s writing career began after she adopted her two daughters, now young adults, from Romania. She writes for the Catholic Sun in Syracuse, NY and has contributed to eleven Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotional books include the latest Hope and a Whole Lotta Prayer (2015) for parents of teenagers, the award-winning Prayers, Papers, and Play (2013) for college students, and To Have and to Hold (2014) for married couples.