What to say when they promise to change but don’t follow through

When a family member promises to change but doesn’t follow through, it can be frustrating and damaging to the relationship. It’s essential to address the issue and find ways to communicate effectively to avoid feelings of resentment and mistrust.

One of the most critical aspects to keep in mind is to avoid being accusatory or judgmental. This can lead to defensiveness and escalate the situation. Instead, focus on expressing your feelings and concerns in a non-confrontational manner.

When discussing the issue, use I statements to convey your feelings and avoid blaming language. For example:

I feel frustrated when you promise to change but don’t follow through. It makes me feel like I’m not important to you.


I’m worried that if we don’t find a solution, it will create more problems in the future. Can we work together to find a way to make it work?

Another essential strategy is to focus on the specific behavior or action that’s causing the issue, rather than making general attacks on the person’s character. This helps to isolate the problem and find a solution.

For instance:

I understand that you promised to help with chores, but it’s been three weeks, and nothing has changed. Can we create a schedule to ensure it gets done?


I appreciate your effort to stop smoking, but I’m concerned that you’re still smoking in the house. Can we find a way to make our home smoke-free?

It’s also crucial to listen actively and try to understand the other person’s perspective. Sometimes, people make promises without realizing the difficulty of following through. By listening, you can better understand the obstacles they’re facing and work together to find a solution.

For example:

I understand that you wanted to quit smoking, but it’s harder than you thought. What do you think we can do to help you stay on track?


I know you promised to help with the household chores, but I understand that you’ve been busy. Can we reassess your workload and find a more manageable solution?

When addressing the issue, it’s essential to be specific about what you need from the other person. Avoid general requests like you need to change or you need to do better. Instead, focus on specific actions or behaviors that you need to see.

For instance:

I need you to take out the trash every Sunday evening so that our home stays clean.


I need you to commit to attending family gatherings at least twice a month.

Remember to set clear expectations and consequences for not following through. This helps to establish accountability and ensures that both parties are on the same page.

For example:

If you’re unable to help with household chores, I’ll need to reassess our budget and find alternative solutions. Can we work together to find a solution?


If you’re not able to attend family gatherings, I’ll understand, but I need at least a week’s notice so we can make arrangements.

Lastly, be patient and understanding. Changing habits and behaviors takes time, and it’s unrealistic to expect immediate results. By being supportive and offering resources, you can help your family member stay on track and create a positive, lasting change.

In conclusion, when a family member promises to change but doesn’t follow through, it’s essential to communicate effectively to avoid feelings of resentment and mistrust. By focusing on specific behaviors, listening actively, and setting clear expectations, you can work together to find a solution that strengthens your relationship and promotes positive change. Remember, patience, understanding, and support are key to helping your family member overcome obstacles and achieve lasting growth.

Be kind ❤

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