This is #4 of a 12-part series on parenting mistakes. Here are the first three: Mistake #1: Parents Not Letting Their Kids Fail. Mistake #2: Parents Project Their Lives on Their Children, Mistake #3: Putting Too Much Emphasis on BEING HAPPY
Today, we tackle Mistake #4: Inconsistency
Parenting is the hardest job on the planet and one of the reasons why is that it is so dang hard to stay consistent with our kids.
The honest truth is that some days parenting is more about survival than it is about good parenting.
How often have you laid down a rule and then changed that very rule when your child broke it because you were too tired or frustrated to enforce it?
Your inconsistencies may not be big ones, but if you are consistently inconsistent, it adds up and will breed negative attitudes and behaviors in your kids.
Tim Elmore in his book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid explains that “as parental leadership vacillates, kids feel uncertain about their boundaries. In short, a lot of little uncertainties produces a few big insecurities.”
When we are inconsistent, we send mixed signals and breed insecurity and instability in our kids.
Whether your kids realize it or not, they want clarity. And that will only come when you are consistent.
Oh, I know it’s not easy. It’s downright hard work to be consistent. But “Clear boundaries, steady consequences, reliable rewards, and the assurance that they can count on you like a sunrise each morning…these things provide the security, safety, and stability your children need. When discipline is consistent, it unlocks all kinds of barriers and solves all sorts of problems…The follow-through is what actually seals the deal and changes behavior.
How strict you are is not as important as how consistent you are. In fact, consistency fosters contented kids. Without it, kids feel like the sand is always shifting beneath their feet and they may experience anxiety or defiance.
Why do Parents Struggle with Inconsistency?
Other than just plain being tired, there may be some other reasons why parents have such a hard time being inconsistent: they may lack their own moral compass or maybe they’ve come to rely on other adults to help them raise their kids–a teacher, coach, youth pastor, grandparent, aunt or uncle. Of course it’s important that we have other positive adults in their lives, but we must be working in sync with them, not relying on them to be the consistent enforcer.
Inconsistency is also difficult when parents are not on the same page, or when the demands of work and family wear you down.
Parents, it starts with your awareness of the importance of your consistency when it comes to your kids. Once you find yourself falling into the inconsistency trap, you can take a step back and do something about it.
Consistent boundaries will instill security, trust, direction, and validation in your child–a great recipe for raising tomorrow’s champions.