Consistent parenting creates security in children of all ages. It strengthens your relationship and builds a connection and trust with your child that will last a lifetime.
There is no way to avoid it as a person and maybe, especially, as a parent. Aldous Huxley said, “Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.” Or, as our doctor-mom friend would say, “It’s just not natural.”
But all of the “parenting experts” say being a consistent parent is important.
Not only do I believe consistency is one of the most important characteristics parents can possess, but it’s also one I see parents struggle with every day. Maybe they struggle because they really don’t know how to start. Maybe they struggle because they don’t know how to stop the busyness of their lives long enough to establish a pattern of consistency.
You are going to struggle.
You’re going to go through the drive-thru and take the trash out for your son.
You will get angry with your daughter and you won’t follow through on your discipline.
But you can still establish a pattern of consistency in your home.
Why is consistent parenting so important?
Consistency creates a sense of security for children. It helps them feel safe, grounded. Children crave predictability, and in an age where childhood anxiety is being referred to as an epidemic, predictability and consistency are maybe more important than ever.
Teenagers, likewise, crave consistency, even though they may not say it out loud. They need consistent consequences to give them opportunities to both learn from their mistakes and enhance their self-worth.
There are three areas in which I believe consistent parenting is most important: values, responsibilities, and discipline. Each are equally important, but they’ll only work when you, as a parent, are consistent.
Here are some thoughts and questions to help you think about each of these three areas as they pertain to your family and being a consistent parent:
Consistent Parenting Area #1: Values
When you think about the way your parents raised you, what did they value? Faith? Financial security? Appearance? Honesty? Try to come up with three of the values that were foundational to your home growing up.
The values that we work on in my counseling practice are: faith, family time, serving, relationships, honesty/integrity, respect, good manners, healthy eating, gratitude and kindness (learn more about each of these areas in my book). These are just a few of the many to choose from, but they are ones that we believe can serve to strengthen your family collectively and as individuals.
Consistent Parenting Area #2: Responsibilities
Giving your child responsibilities is a tough one. It comes with a million questions for most parents. What are they capable of? What is fair? Do you make it a requirement for being a part of the family, or do you pay them for their chores? Is it part of their allowance? Do you make a chart? How do you make a chart? What do you do if they don’t do their chores?
In your house, your children may not sing and dance when they’re asked to do chores. They may not volunteer to help you cook dinner. But we believe that responsibilities are a big deal. We believe doing their part in consistently contributing not only helps children of all ages learn responsibility but also helps them feel important.
Consistent Parenting Area #3: Discipline
When I speak to parents across the country, the subject I’m asked about the most is discipline. It holds true for every age. Parents of toddlers ask about bedtime and tantrums. Parents of elementary students have questions about whining and all-out disobedience. And parents of teens wonder about disrespect: How much is too much?
I’d love to answer all of those questions for you, but you as a parent must be able to reflect on how these pertain to your own children. What I want to do is equip you with principles for discipline.
I believe if you reflect on these questions and use the ideas in Intentional Parenting with consistency, discipline will be less of an issue in your home and you’ll be freed up to better enjoy life as a family. But remember, consistency is the key.
Consistent parenting isn’t easy. However, it’s a battle that is worth fighting and can help create a pattern that will lend itself not only to greater security in your children but also to more peace in your home. How have you helped to establish a pattern of consistency in your home? Leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!