|Kyle and Carah were excited to line up tallest to shortest because they passed Esther this year.|
Parents, don't make excuses. Read. I know you are tired. Read anyway. Not every word of every book will be beneficial, but you can glean important concepts. I know you are busy. I know you are the expert on your littles. Read, sift through information, discuss with parents older than you whom you respect, discuss with your peers who are in the same stage as you. Educate yourselves on the ins and outs of discipleship, health, development, and nurturing of children. Did I mention that I think you should read books on parenting? Please consider my plea.
If I had to choose one concept I gleaned out of almost every book I read it would be consistency. If you asked me what I thought the key to our parenting has been so far, I would tell you consistency.
Do you know what problems come up with working to parenting with consistency? It's tiring! You have to pay attention! It takes works! It takes much stamina!
Consistency in parenting breeds trust. Trust gives birth to security, and security develops children who respect and listen to their parents. Children who respect and listen to their parents grow into adults who respect and listen to God and critically think about the world around them.
If you tell your child that you will play with them "in a little while," don't forget. Play with them.
If you say you are on the same team as the other parent, then don't undermine what the other parent has spoken. If you disagree with what has been spoken, discuss it privately.
If you want your child to sit in a time out for three minutes quietly and respectfully, then make it happen, even if it takes you an hour. There are no easy outs in consistency.
If you say you will cuddle after bath time, cuddle even if it's late and you are exhausted.
If you tell them "no," let it be so. Your yes means yes. Your no means no. They should not manipulate you and you should not manipulate them.
If you say they can pick out whatever they want to wear, let them wear it even if their outfit includes plaid, clashing shades of yellow, and a cape. Don't project your insecurities of what others may think on their unique opportunities to display themselves to the world.
If you tell them they will face a consequence if you count to three, then by all means count to three without any half numbers, but the moment you say three, scoop them up and deliver the consequence. They learn quickly whether or not you mean business. Develop the very best "I mean business" look you can manage. Practice in the mirror.
If they obey you, then praise them. Consistently.
If you say you will read three books, then read all three. Of course, read more if you have time, but follow through on what they heard you say with your words.
If you make a mistake, then apologize with specific words about your offense and how you plan to make things rights. Speak to their value in your life and your desire to love, nurture, and care for them. Consistency in admitting your mistakes will usher you into authentic communication possibly for the entirety of your relationship with them.
The if/then examples of consistency in parenting could go on and on. The point is it takes work. As parents we must pay attention to what we tell our children. We must realize this work starts as soon as they are born, not at age one, two, five, or twelve. We are building the foundational blocks of trust in our kids from the beginning. However, if consistency hasn't marked your parenting and your child is already one, two, five, or twelve, it isn't too late. Your work may take more determination, but be determined to do the very best you can for your child.
Chad's and my parenting desire/hope is to have mutual adult relationships with each of our kids. At this stage (the teen-age years that many told us would be the worst years of our lives and they were dead wrong) we are beginning to see the dividends of consistency in our family. I'm praying God will continue to give us insight into parenting our pre-teen and teenage kids with continued consistency, humility, and deep dependance on Him.
What about you? In what areas are you most consistent in your parenting? Do know where you need to grow in this area? Is there an example of consistency in your family you could share with us? Let us know your thoughts.