#1~Consistency, Thou Art Fickle!
Someone asked me one time what advice I would give a new parent. “Be consistent.” Think of it in terms of shoes. If you are a flip-flop, your child will not have a firm foundation on which to grow. If you are a steel-toed boot? Solid foundation. And I don’t mean hard as steel. That will produce a child who is continually, emotionally spent. Be firm, not cold and hard. That’s another blog.
Being consistent is not easy. There are times when we are tired and it’s just easier to give in to them. Maybe we have too many irons in the fire and the easy thing to do is to just say “Yes” and be done with whatever the issue is. Here’s the thang: If it’s a “NO!” yesterday, it must be a “No!” today. You’ll find, in the long run, it’s easier to keep saying “NO!” than to say “Yes” once and try to go back to “NO!” the next day. Our children are brilliant in the ways of parenting, sometimes, more so than the parent. They learn, very early on, which button to push and the exact moment to push that button.
Each child has their own patterns and tendencies, so you must be consistent with each of them, but not necessarily the same across the board. One child may be able to handle being alone for a few moments in a room without climbing up onto the window sill, or climbing up to the top of a dresser, or building a staircase of sorts to become king of the mountain on top of the refrigerator. One child may not be able to go into your bedroom alone because they will get into your make-up, paint themselves and your walls with everything they get their hands on. But another may be able to take a stack of books into your bedroom, lay down, read, and fall asleep for their nap. Some children can self-supervise at an early age, while another must be watched 24/7 like a hawk! Know who your children are so you can set appropriate boundaries in the beginning. Don’t wait until they’re five before you figure out what they are capable of when you’re not in the same room with them.
Yes, children change. They will push against the boundaries every chance they get. They grow and stretch and they will stretch you, but if your boundaries are clear, they are certain of their standing and their abilities. Boundaries make a child strong. Boundaries build character. Boundaries will be appreciated when they are older and come back to thank you for how you parented them, and believe me, that is the greatest gift you will ever receive.
It is never too late to set boundaries. “Too late” only comes into the conversation if you waiver on your “yes” and “no” moments in their lives. Our philosophy was to always give our children their right to speak, to voice their opinions on pretty much everything. They had to speak with respect and we had the final say, but they had the right to their own voice. For example: If we told one of them that it was their bedtime, they were allowed to ask for another 15 minutes to finish doing whatever they were involved in at the moment. We were not dictators, we were/are parents. God gave us the gift of children and the responsibility to raise them in such a way that HE would approve. Whenever we took our children out in public, we always received compliments on how well-behaved they were. That is because of consistency. They knew there would be consequences if they misbehaved.
Consistency that is fickle is not consistency. Be consistent with your child, day in, day out. Your consistency lets them know they can trust you!! You are doing everyone a great service in being consistent. Blessed parenting!
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”