Cultivating Consistency

Thursday, January 24, 2013  ::  

One of my favorite things to hear is what great kids I have. And I do. I know it. Sometimes I want to say thanks for noticing because Chad and I have prayed and worked very, very hard to cultivate the little humans God entrusted to us into big humans that are great. But that would be awkward, so I usually just blush a little, grin and look to the side, and respond with a quiet "thank you."
Kyle and Carah were excited to line up tallest to shortest because they passed Esther this year. 
Parenting tweens and teens is certainly different than raising up the little ones. To be honest, I haven't found books that are beneficial for this stage of my journey. I read just about any parenting book I could get my hands on when they were little. I knew nothing about kids. Nothing. The What to Expect series saved me when Esther came to into our family. If a mom or dad I respected recommended or even mentioned a book on parenting, I read it. I was ignorant and desperate. If you are still in the camp that believes parenting comes naturally, I respectfully disagree. Sure, it may be natural to want to feed, clothe, and love them, but parenting runs much deeper.

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.

6 important comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Angela DeSoto said...

I will have to take some time to contemplate those questions, but I just have to say that I love your parenting blogs. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom!

Angela DeSoto said...

I will have to take some time to contemplate those questions, but I just have to say that I love your parenting blogs. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom!

Anonymous said...

:) I like that word Angel!! and yes, it does take loads of work! xxoo Oh, yes I think your kids are pretty awesome individuals!

wearitbaseball said...

Great advice w/the consistency! I want some more if/thens. This could be THEE book on the tween/teenage years (since there aren't any out there). Write it. We'll buy it. You've got about 5 chapters worth already here. :)

Gene E said...

We just heard Travis Cottrell (Beth Moore's worship leader) say "I love my kids so much it sometimes makes me hurt, but they sometimes could make Jim Dobson cry." We were there! ANGEL & CHAD - YOU HAVE A GREAT FAMILY!!!! We are so proud of the example you lead before our kid's families!

Looking back as an "older" parent, I have no idea what we did right other than we LOVED, LOVED, LOVED our kids. We told them about Jesus. We believed the Word of God over them. NOT going to church wasn't even an option. And we hung in there. We were late to games our son was captain of the week. We took the wrong side in fights. We didn't know all the answers - EVER!! But it now makes me cry to see what God has done with our humble, inadequate parenting offering before Him and the people of God they have become (and their families)!

I know you don't want to rush your kids in growing up, but I know they are God destined to have Jesus' heart for people and full of the power of the Holy Spirit! How exciting is that!

Stephanie said...

Hey girl..such great advice! At that age (or any age really)...they need to know that we mean what we say and that we can be trusted to follow through....with the promises we make for the good/fun stuff AND the boundaries we have set that have consequences if broken. Makes all the difference. Good stuff!

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