We all know it – Being consistent is important as a parent. But we also know it is one of the biggest challenges we face – and it is one of the biggest guilts we deal with. But what does consistency look like. We tend to see it as being 100 percent the same – always; but, that can look like legalism or being authoritarian. Out of reaction to that we swing the pendulum the other way – and find ourselves as inconsistent! There has to be a balance, a middle road somewhere that makes consistency doable and real.
As our children have grown older and we continue to study character, I have become aware that different traits, or responses, feed into each other, you cannot have one without the other; no character trait stands on its own. There is always balance.
With consistency comes flexibility.
- When there is too much focus on consistency we lose focus on relationship and we become legalistic.
- When there is too much focus on flexibility we become wishy washy, pushover parents who give in to their kids all the time.
There has to be a balance.
This balance comes out of knowing what you want for your family. It comes by understanding your values, and the consequences of not living by those values. There is a reason, a purpose, for the decisions we make on a day to day basis. Consistency is when we hold ourselves, and our family to the values that we want to live by.
Inconsistency happens when we don’t own the underlying values for ourselves – We can never be consistent if we are just copying someone else’s ideas, plans or purposes. Inconsistency happens when we know it is a good idea, but we aren’t really convinced. When we hold lightly to our values, then it is easy to let them slide when challenged.
We lose our consistency when we are tired, distracted or in a hurry. We can justify letting it slide just this once or maybe we don’t even notice a nod when it should have been a shake of the head. Inconsistency undermines our authority, our ability to speak correction into our children’s lives, and therefore will undermine our intention and purpose in the training of our kids.
Consistency on the other hand establishes not only trust and reliability in your relationship with your child, it establishes your values, and helps build healthy habits. When a child has the foundation of consistent instruction, training and correction, they have the opportunity to start taking ownership of something – be it a chore, or a behaviour. This is why consistency is so important in parenting.
Five tips to be more Consistent:
1–Know the values you want to build into your family. Know what those values look like in every day life.
2–Pick your battles – know what needs working on in your life, your kids life, or your family life – and don’t try to work on them all at the same time. Limit yourself to a few battles or issues at any one time.
3–Keep reminders around the house – as much for you as for your children. I like posters that remind me of the Biblical truth, or moral truth of what we are working on. I have found that I need to refresh these posters otherwise they become a part of the furniture and I don’t really see them enough to be reminded.
4–Look after yourself so you are physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually able to be consistent. Teaching and training is exhausting – we have to be up for the task (and if we aren’t, then we need to make that a priority)
5–Know and expect there to be conflict (this is why we have to be consistent). Know how you are going to handle a negative response to your instruction. When you know in advance, you reduce the opportunity to let something slide.
Finding the Motivation to be Consistent
This quote has challenged me many times when I consider the choices I make:
We know what a person thinks, not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions – Isaac Basheuis Singer
After reading this quote I have to ask myself – I wonder what I believe about these things I find hard to be consistent with? Do I believe they are as important as I say they are? Is something else more important? Should it be more important?
- Do I value my health or do I value the taste of junk food, and the comfort of my airconditioning instead of the effort of exercising!
- Do I value my time doing my project more than I value my child’s training?
- Do I value the pleasure of watching a late movie more than I value the focus I need tomorrow?
When we work on being consistent it isn’t just about working harder, applying more self-control but it is a time to reflect on what we truly value.
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