Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

The call to consistency April 19, 2009

Filed under: Books,Correction,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 9:50 pm

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. 

That said, I found Krueger’s definition of consistency within parenting (in Raising Godly Tomatoes) to be particularly insightful and practical.  She says (emphasis mine):

“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!


3 Responses to “The call to consistency”

  1. Jean Says:

    It is amusing to me that the answer to a lot of parenting issues turns out to be “spend more time with your kids.” Why does it take reading lots of books and seeking the advice of experts to come up with this conclusion? Should this not be our first inclination anyway? Shouldn’t we want to pay attention to our children and give them our best all the time during their very short formative years?

    “Stay-at-home” moms don’t seem to stay at home as much nowadays. Maybe we should put off some of the playdates, classes, outings and errands for good old fashioned staying at home and raising our kids right.

    You could look at it that not doing what you want (hobbies, socializing, entertainment, relaxation, etc.) so you can do a better job as a parent is a sacrifice – but really it is an obligation…and being a parent is a privilege.

  2. heartpondering Says:

    I appreciate the comment… your second paragraph reminds me of the ‘enrichment’ post I did last week! Thoughts there that I can definitely relate to.

    “Spend more time with your kids” is certainly a big part of Krueger’s point – with the QUALITY of that time being a key consideration. I often catch myself being physically near my children but mentally miles away. Your words of “paying attention to” and “giving our best time to” resonates with me and with the tyoe of consistency that impressed me in the excerpts I incluced.

    I agree with you that parenting is a prilivege, and that this privilege necessarily includes sacrifices (of all shapes and sizes). Part of the key, I think, is assessing your time and your interactions with your kids to determine how the time IS being spent… Am I present to my kids? Am I giving them (a sufficent, even ample) amount of attention? Am I consistent in my love and presence, as in my correction? These questions lead to the questions of sacrifice I was referring to. Where I find answers of ‘no’ when I believe they should be ‘yes’ – that’s when the rubber hits the road. When I have to prayerfully figure out what it means to respond to the call – and privilege – of parenting that God’s given me, and what I may need to scale back on or even lay down (for a season) to do it well.

  3. Courtney Says:

    First off, I have really appreciated and gleaned a lot of life changing (in the parent realm) advice that I have effectively put into practice with all three of my children (5, 3, and 1) from Raising Godly Tomatoes.

    I have always thought of myself as consistent or at least striving to be consistent, but Krueger really has challenged me to REALLY be consistent and to take it to the next step. My usual “consistency” entailed: Asking for something to happen of sorts with the expectation that my child did it, and then if they did it offer praise or affirmation for compliance OR if they did not they received a consequence (time out, spank, whatever I felt the situation dictated. I thought I was taking into consideration the child, the situation, and being consistent.

    Well, I was also frustrated by there continued disobedience of one degree or another. Too often I was having to come up with an “appropriate” consequence. I was tired of the whining, crying for no real reason, sibling fights, occasional “no” to me, and whatever else. My kids are loved, they get enough sleep, I expect obedience and follow it up with clear consequences, so what was the deal?

    Reading this book made me realize I needed to change my consistency to go as follows: Ask my child to do something, expect them to do it, and actually “outlast” them until they did obey with an appropriate attitude/spirit/heart, and then sometimes (when appropriate) throw in a few practice rounds. This training/teaching has worked beyond amazingly. I have outlasted them whenever necessary- sometimes longer than others, and we are all enjoying each other and our time much more. I can see my son catching himself before he responds to me in a whiny voice. I can see my daughter catch herself before she just starts crying instead of just answering me with the words she can use to explain her feelings, etc.

    A few helpful things: have them practice after they have disobeyed and you outlast them, use the words “please begin again” when they disobey, if you predict a problem situation have them practice it before it occurs, make sure you check their heart/spirit/attitude as they obey, do it over and over whenever necessary- stay close to them, so you can teach/guide/train them and really be consistent.

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