The Promise Dilemma


Tomorrow night I have a serious dilemma:

1 – My Dad invited me to attend a seminar of a powerful speaker he feels is the smartest man he’s ever heard, it starts at 7 PM, an hour’s drive from my home;

2 – My son’s basketball coach organized a one-time only Fathers vs. Sons game and pizza party to celebrate our boys having just gone undefeated for the season, starting at 7 PM, a 5 minute drive from my home.

Herein lies the great Promise Dilemma – which promise outweighs the other?

I have not committed to either at this point.  I have no true obligation in terms of what I have agreed to do.  Unfortunately there is no way I can make it logistically to both due to travel distance.

So, what is the dilemma?

As a SON:

I Promise to be a support, good son, and honor my Father.

I want to support my Dad, am grateful he invited me to the seminar, and am very committed to the craft of self-improvement in my business, as listening to other speakers always inspires and lifts my game.  My Dad is getting older, we don’t have as many chances to get together these days, and I suppose my attendance could be helpful to his efforts in business, as well as to mine, since he will most likely introduce me to some key people.

I really want to be there! 


As a DAD:

I Promise to be present and available any chance I can in my son’s life.

My son’s coach has never suggested the dads play the boys, but they have been using it as a tactic all season long to encourage the boys to work hard, and that, at the end of the season, this would prove the ultimate test to see how good they really are.  I rarely lace up the sneakers to play, as my body has not served me well when I have in 2 decades past.  However, I’m not getting younger, and there are few opportunities like this left for me.

I really want to be there!


What is the Promise Dilemma?  

When we must choose between one good and another good, even if we haven’t committed to either, but have based our character, habits, and choices upon the principles of keeping our promises, we have a dilemma.

Most often it comes down to keeping the RIGHT promises first.

So, which one is right in this instance?

I’m not going to reveal here what I choose to do, rather would love your thoughts as to what you feel I should do, give your argument as to why, and I will leave the following thoughts here that may add to the conflict:

  • The 10 Commandments state – Honor Thy Father & Thy Mother
  • I used to set a goal to be a better dad.  It wasn’t until I made a Promise to be the kind of dad any kid would want to have that my relationship with each child changed.


What’s your most recent Promise Dilemma?  And how do you choose between right and right?

~ Jason Hewlett 

Husband, Father, Writer, Hiker, Coach

  • Speaker Hall of Fame * Award-Winning Entertainer * Promise Legacy Coach
  • World’s First & Only Keynote Speaker utilizing entertainment, musical impressions, and comedy to teach the Power of Keeping Your Promise
  • Author of “The Promise To The One”


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28 thoughts on “The Promise Dilemma”

  1. Gregory Offner Jr, ARM

    I believe that when we become fathers, our “duty” to our own fathers become subordinated to our duty to our own children. That, and owing to the fact that this is more likely to be a “core memory” for a son, would guide my decision to attend the party/game. Plus, if the speaker is that good he probably had some stuff on YouTube you can watch 😉

    Can’t wait to hear how it turns out.

    1. Well said from the youngest Dad in the crowd 🙂 You’re awesome Gregory, thank you for weighing in with your wisdom, and it’s excellently articulated here by you. You are correct, speaker is good, but what he spoke on at this event was a one-tim thing, so that made the decision a bit more challenging. However, I think you won’t be surprised when I reveal what I did.

    2. Gregory Offner-
      Great insight. Couldn’t have said it better.
      The time with your Dad listening to a speaker is not as interactive, as the Father Son Event.
      Your Son will remember your Father Son Day for the rest of his life.

  2. I would definitely play in your son’s basketball game. As you are your Dad’s son, he would understand why you would want to be there. Your son will appreciate it and you will have created a “Forever Memory”.
    The speaker your Dad had in mind for you to hear probably has some videos on You Tube and you can learn from him that way. I am interested in knowing which choice you made.
    Blessings, Louise

    1. Awwww Louise, I always appreciate your wonderful way with words. And yes, we figured out the best solution but it was a conversation that needed to be had. Sadly, the speaker was speaking on a topic that is not online, so that made this even more challenging, but I will reveal what we ended up doing soon!

  3. The time with your dad gets more precious every day. That said, time with your son for this event is also valuable. Any chance you can invite your dad to come to the game and watch you and your son, go out with the two of them after the game and , as Louise suggested, watch some videos with your dad after the fact?? Your dad , I am sure is proud of the father you are and would likely be honored to be included in this time together….. I hate making these decisions!

    1. Elizabeth, that is a wonderful idea. What I hadn’t shared was how involved my dad is with the speaker, as a sponsor of the event, so it wasn’t feasible for him to miss, but this is a great idea you’ve suggested. We came up with a compromise that worked, but it was interesting to see it play out, and everyone was happy. Thank you!

  4. The classic double bind. I learned that when having to choose between two good things, you’ll never feel 100% good about either choice.
    So I have an idea. When stuck between A & B, find C. Sometimes that’s easier to do but in a situation like yours where A and B are hitting at the heart of your moral promises, “C”-ing your way out will require some serious out of the box thinking. So there’s my advice. Find C.

    1. Steve! I love that. I hadn’t thought of it in these terms, but that is what we had to do to make it a positive all around, which I will share in another post. But yes, you are exactly correct! Love it. C-ing is great.

  5. Tough call, but I suggest going with your dad. As your parents age the number of times you can spend with them decrease. Maybe your son will remember this when he is older and faced with a similar situation in his future. As for your son, I think it is the quality of the engagement and the not the number of times you spend with him.

    1. Well said, Dan, I appreciate this. As I discussed it with both my son and dad, it was interesting to hear their perspectives, and it was great to see that the decision wasn’t after all as difficult as a I made it in my mind, once I communicated with both. Thank you.

  6. Camille Callahan

    This is indeed a dilemma. You make some good points for both events. As a person who has lost both my parents and a spouse, I would chose my Dad. The opportunities to be with him are becoming less and less. You will never regret spending that time with him. I would make at least an evening out of it. Go to dinner together. If there is something you two like to do together, consider doing that earlier in the day. Or, if you chose to go with your son, still take the time to have a memorable day with your Dad. And don’t wait. Either person will be a bit disappointed, though if you explained it all to your Dad he will probably say to be with your son. So there is that. You could always have a one on one with your son, maybe even invite the other boys and dads to another game. Be happy with your decision and don’t feel any guilt!

    1. Camille, I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your parents and your spouse, that would certainly change the perspective of our choices. Grateful I was able to fulfill both promises in ways similar to how you’ve suggested, and will share in an upcoming post. Thank you.

  7. You have to play in your son’s basketball game. That’s an irreplaceable event that will leave a long-lasting impression on your son. To not go, will absolutely leave a lasting impression, too, but not the one you want.

    Your dad, on the other hand, will understand. So much so, that he will quickly help you make the right decision. However, I would schedule, right now, a one-on-one night out/dinner with your dad, just you you and him, and let him share with you everything he learned from the speaker. And as smart as that speaker may be, what your dad shares with you, from his unique perspective, will be even smarter … for you. Good luck!

    1. I really appreciate how you’ve articulated this Brent, well done. And yes, you are right, that is all the correct choice for what it needs to be.

  8. Hmmm… Do you seek to fill the responsibility of a father or son in this dilemma? For me, I would play with my son in the basketball game. My reasoning is that I have a relatively short time to build a strong relationship with my son. He won’t always want or need me around in his life. What influence I might have in my son’s life is diminishing as he is getting older. Although, one activity is not likely to change any outcomes. I know my father would understand and encourage me to be there for my son.

    1. Great and wise thoughts, my friend. And yes, while we are “young enough” to do so, and while they still kinda sorta maybe want want us around it is a great opportunity to do so. Thank you for your continued comments and support my brother. You’re the kind of Dad I’m striving to be, and your Dad is looking down from the heavens upon you, proud of you, no doubt.

  9. I’ll bet I know what you do…just knowing you the little that I do! You are a wonderful father AND son, regardless of your choice tonight though. I’m going to guess that your father, with all of the years and experiences behind him, would encourage you to go to the game with your son. He sees the whole picture a little clearer than a teenage boy does! Good luck on the decision!

    And, I just have to say that the picture in that RAZR with the coolest F2TF sticker on it brought back some fun memories! You have a beautiful family and we would love to go chase sunsets on mountain tops again soon!

    1. Thank you my friend. You have a keen awareness of what I choose to do. And yes, we loved that special day with your family so much, one of our great memories of all-time. Thank you and we hope to join you again someday. Our best to your family and thank you for commenting here!

  10. Amen to what Brent Gray said.

    You could also consider involving both your father and your son in helping you make your decision. You already know how you feel. Don’t assume what they feel. Find out from them. Talk to them. Hear them. This is the most important part of this process.

    Love ya, Raptor Man

    1. 100% correct my friend, and that is what we ended up doing. Excited to reveal what we went with in a coming post. You’re the best, love ya back.

  11. As a grandparent – and a parent, of course, I would want you to be with your son. That’s the important thing right now. That will have the most impact in future.

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