Consistency vs Convenience
Parenting is a team effort for us. Chris and I are each others greatest cheerleaders and critics as we navigate through this journey of parenting together. Part of being a team means encouraging the other to strive harder even when times get tough and calling each other out when one is slacking in the different areas.
No matter how proactive we are, there are countless times when our children still looks at us and do the exact opposite of what we ask or appropriate on various occasions. This is simply because they are sinners and have that innate nature to go against our authority. One thing my husband and I have been encouraging each other to do is be consistent. Not just when dealing with our children together but also individually. One of the ways is to be on the same page about how, when and what to do when discipline is necessary.
Consistency in our family means that our rules and expectations are the same from one time to another and from one parent to another. This makes our home predictable and less confusing. We believe this allows all of us (our children too) to be accountable for our words and our actions. This also gives our children a sense of security. They know that they can rely on us as their parents. This shows them they can trust us and their needs will be met. This also helps them develop a sense of responsibility because they know what we expect from them. There are predictable consequences for rules or when they push the limits. Investing early in consistent parenting pays huge dividends later. There have been considerably less temper tantrums and arguing between us and our children. There is no “guessing” what is appropriate and expected from them. It has also shown them that they can be confident in our love for them and our authority is created by God to guide them, lead them and protect them because He has blessed us with these precious gifts.
A couple of weeks ago, God allowed me to exercise consistency with one of my boys. It was Titus’s birthday and the kids and I planned to go to Target while we waited for Chris to be done with work. With two more hours to spare, I decided this would be a great time to hit two birds with one stone: buy a gift for the birthday boy and pick up a jug of milk since we were running low. The plan played out perfectly in my head. Before we even got out of the car, I reminded them that there will be no whining or complaining while we were shopping.
Lo and behold, right when we walked in… Micah whined. Whining is one of the top “NO-NO’s” on our list. We do not allow our children to use whiny voices when they are asking or want something from us. He did just that.
- Consider carefully the values that are important to you and your family and make your rules accordingly. For us, the Bible is our primary instruction guide for raising our children. Our values revolve around love, respect and obedience and our rules revolve around these.
- Setting up too many rules for young children will overwhelm both you and them. Pick three or four to start with and increase them as your child matures.
- Be certain that the rules and consequences you both decide on and set in place are ones you are prepared to enforce when issues arise.
- Life is hectic and some days it seems easier to just let some things slide. However, by doing this you are giving your child an incentive to push boundaries and test your limits.
- Remember to be consistent with your rules but also with your words of praise and encouragement. When you see your child exhibiting the characteristics that you want to encourage, feel free to give them a shout out.
- Some families find that developing character charts and using stickers or stars encourage their children exhibit godliness. If this doesn’t work for your family try something else such as posting a list of rules and consequences where they can be easily seen. Having clear expectations will help keep everyone in check. We post memory verses around our house to remind us of how we can all exhibit godly character towards each other. This works really well as a reminder for me as a mom as well. I am not exempt from keeping God’s Word in my heart and using as the best tool to work with my children.
- Each child has a unique temperament. Adjust your approach to fit the child. Some children are easily guided while another may be somewhat stubborn and persistent. My boys are polar opposites. But this doesn’t mean our rules change for each one but we’ve learned to adjust our manner of discipline so it is more effective towards the child.
- The only thing that is the same across all our children is that they are all sinners and they also need the grace of God to repent from their sin. It is our responsibility as their parents to teach them about the Lord but it will be their own choice to give their lives to him.