Children Making Promises to God

I have been quite curious about this for a while and suppose I might as well ask the question and see if anyone has an idea of the answer…

Let’s say there is a little kid who fell off of his bike while riding. He hurt his knee pretty badly, so he makes a promise to God that he will never ride his bike again because the little boy (wrongly) thought maybe God was mad at him and falling was a punishment. (You can change the reasoning around exactly why he made the promise, I chose that one because, by using that metaphor it shows that the kid actually meant it when he made the promise). Anyway, to get to the point, is the boy no longer able to ride bikes ever again because he made that promise when he was a kid?

I don’t know if that makes any sense. My basic question is…Is the little boy no longer allowed to ride bikes with his friends because he made a promise to God not to?

Let us hope that the little boy discusses this with a responsible grown adult who explains to him that God would neither require nor hold him to that kind of “promise” and that furthermore his falling off the bike was not a “punishment” from God. If he was doing something irresponsible on the bike then it was a consequence of not riding safely; otherwise it was an accident, which happens sometimes to humans.

The kid in this case made an overly difficult and unnecessary promise under a false impression that God was mad at him. Of course loving God isn’t going to hold him to it. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind thinking God would do such a thing.


How little? 6 years old? Is this hypothetical?

Hypothetical. A question that bluntly asked would be does God want us to keep every promise we make to Him no matter what the circumstances? What Tis_Bearself said makes sense. I know it says in the Bible not to make flippant oaths but let your yes be yes and no be no, but I wondered what would happen if someone did make an oath (a smaller, more simple one, not ones you would bind your life by such as religious vocation) would they be expected to keep it no matter the condition it was made it.

From my understanding, no promises are binding unless made with complete and total understanding of what is being said and why. I would think that the little boy would not have to be bound by is promise simply on the false assumption that God was mad at him. That’s misunderstanding, which negates the promise.

Not sure what happens to other small promises as there are many different kinds and reasons. I would think though that any reasonable older person with good faith would know that making small, unhelpful “promises” is not needed or wise. If one is made without proper reflection beforehand, that could be a sign that it was more of a passing thought than a promise made with full knowledge. One can resolve to do or not do something without promising it, For people who talk to God in their mind a lot, they make think any passing thought of a potential or real resolution is a binding promise made in prayer. Hope that makes sense. A priest should be contacted for certainty.

In either case, this child seems very young. No child can make a binding promise before the age of reason (7ish) no matter how premeditated they think it is. That’s why parents make the baptismal promises before tat age.

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Yes, we’ve been over this on threads started by people older than the young boy who make promises in bargaining with God, such as promising to never play video games again. As you note, this is not wise or spiritually productive behavior, and it’s immature, like how a child or young teen would think. “God, make my mother well and I promise I’ll never eat candy again.” When people mature spiritually they learn to offer up something that’s actually doable, such as not eating candy for a day or a week, and if they slip up they know that means maybe they should try again another day or should pick something else to do.

If you’re going to make “Forever” promises to God, he would prefer that you “Forever” promise to do your best to pray daily, follow his commandments and practice works of mercy. If you sin, confess and start again. If you have a bad day and don’t get prayers done, try again tomorrow.


This reminded me of a novel I read in college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) about the Vietnam war. It was called “The 13th Valley” by John DelVecchio. Anyway, in the novel there is a mildly humorous scene where the soldiers believe they are about to come under heavy enemy fire and one soldier, who is somewhat of a playboy, immediately starts making promises to God that if he survives the incident, “I’ll be a monk!” Then it turns out that the artillery fire is, to put it mildly, a non-event, nowhere near them and they were never in any danger and he wails, “For this, I promised to be a monk? Me and my big mouth!”


The OP case merits imo a serious conversation with the parents of this child . These ideas in a child don’t just appear from nowhere…
How does something as normal as getting a scratch from falling from a bike become this self-inflicted destructive behaviour?
What sort of bar has there been set for accidents or even mistakes for this child?
Do those parents know how the notion of time develops in children?
Whatever is a punishment in the mind of a child “ lasts longer” . Whatever is fun passes quicker… Forever?
It is hard to read this in a Catholic forum and expect that God doesn’t know the basics about children nor loves them that He demands obedience for what is sinister …and not even his/her fault… poor child…

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That is quite true. As I had been thinking about it the question earlier this week I feel like I let God’s mercy slip from my mind. He is a Father, and a Father knows how children are. What type of Father would punish a child for falling, let alone trying to appease him afterward by making a promise to do fo the act again.

In my mind it was more of a black and white situation, the kid makes a promise what does God do. But it goes deeper than that. God knows our hearts.

I guess my question isn’t something you can just answer in general, the child, the circumstances and the parents must all be taken into account…

I was focused on a child and the bike situation as you presented it.
And yes, in every case, God our Father in Heaven loves us more than anything we can imagine and knows our heart.
Have a good night ,:crescent_moon::sleeping: Pixie…

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A small child beforethe age of reason should just pray he got scared.

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