All of us moms have been told, at one time or another, that being consistent with our kids is important – that they need to know what to expect, that our rules don’t change, that we mean it every time. So there’s nothing or unique in novel in childrearing advice about consistency.
“Consistency doesn’t mean ‘do exactly the same thing with every child’ or ‘discipline the same exact way in every instance.’ Not every child has the same personality or emotional makeup. Not every circumstance is the same. The age of the child will factor in. Some children are more strong-willed and stubborn than others… These and other things must be taken into consideration as you determine how to handle each child and situation, but this should not interfere with true consistency. Consistency really means that every time your child requires correction, you get up and do it, remaining there to supervise and outlast until the message gets across.
She goes on to describe the moment she realized what setting and maintaining a high standard of consistency would require – and then began implementing it.
“I remember a specific day years ago when my oldest three children were still young. I was talking to a friend on the phone, and I remember telling the caller that I could hear my little daughter jumping on the couch in the other room, and that I really should go stop her…. Then it hit me. Yes, that’s exactly what I needed to do in order to begin seeing some lasting results in my efforts to raise godly children. I needed to stop talking on the phone, and go correct my daughter every single time she needed it. That would be true consistency, and I hadn’t been doing it.
So, I decided to change. I resolved to make consistency my top priority. I stopped running unnecessary errands, stopped over-indulging in my hobbies, stopped making excessive social phone calls, and set my mind diligently and consistently on training my children. I continued with the normal mandatory tasks of life but even as I did those things, I kept in mind that my children were my top priority… I gathered my children close to me so I could always see and hear them, then I stopped what I was doing and promptly corrected them, every time they needed it.”
The big takeaway for me as I reflected on Krueger’s words was this: prioritizing consistency in responding to and training our children is a sacrifice. Less time and freedom to do our thing, and more time and focus on their thing(s). Because, as she points out, it’s one thing to say that consistently correcting our kids is important; it’s another thing to live it.
Mothering, by definition, is a multi-tasking job. Throughout everything we do all day (cooking, driving, cleaning, preparing food), we’re also watching your kids. But the modern mother has a thousand additional things we think of as normal and also engage in throughout the day. Like phone calls. Texting. Email. Facebook. Blogs. Talk radio. Work (from home). Add yours here.
Am I saying that all these things need to go? No. If I thought that, I wouldn’t be sitting here blogging(!). But I do think that, in the balance between ‘getting stuff done’ and ‘consistently parenting your child’ – today’s mom is more prone to neglect the latter for the former than the other way around. I know I am.
In our God-given mission of motherhood, we are called – in certain ways – to follow the model of Jesus who lay down his life for his followers. It’s a sacrificial model of leadership. If I am to truly “train up my children in the way they should go,” then I need to do it well and wholly… and be willing to die to myself in some ways, at least for a time. It will, as Christ promises, be worth it!