Has your child ever come to you and said, “Hey Mom, I really need you to be consistent with boundaries and consequences so I know I can count on you.”?
Me neither, friend! Me neither.
But! Can I remind us of something we certainly know but can so easily forget? Our two year old and our seventeen year old need us to establish healthy boundaries and be consistent in enforcing them.
They may not know it. And they’ll definitely never admit it! But we can rest assured - our children need to know that we say what we mean and we mean what we say - because they thrive within consistent and enforced boundaries.
I cringe when I think of some of the ridiculous threats I make, knowing full well there is no way I could, or would, follow through. There is always that little voice in my head saying, “I really hope they don’t call my bluff.”
But more importantly, do you know what we do when we are inconsistent? We actually train our children to challenge us. Inconsistency teaches them that arguing, begging, and throwing a full- blown fit will change our mind and give them the outcome they desire—at any cost to our sanity.
We don’t do them, or ourselves, any favors by being inconsistent.
Of course we must listen to our child’s feelings and allow them to respectfully explain their desire or their reason for a request. And we should certainly remain open to allowing their reasoning (when done in a respectful way) to influence our decisions, but it should never be as a result of their arguing and begging.
A simple way for me to think about this is what I call the R & R principle.
R & R= Respectful & Reasonable
Our children must be respectful, and we must be reasonable.
For example, if my boys are playing soccer in the backyard, and I say, “Hey boys, it's time to come to the table for dinner” there are two respectful ways they can respond:
They can say, “Yes, Mom” and head on in. Or, they can say, “Yes, Mom, but can we please finish our game?”
If they can be respectful, I can be reasonable.
Interestingly enough, research reveals that the type of parents who are actually most consistent in enforcing rules are the same parents who are most warm and have the most conversations with their kids. (But let’s not confuse consistent with rigid!)
Consistency is associated with warmth and openness in a parent-child relationship. Who knew?
Consistency reflects the heart of Jesus, who “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8), and consistency offers our children the ability to learn how to live freely under our, and God’s, authority.
So let’s show our kiddos we love them enough to do the hard (and often exhausting work) of giving them healthy boundaries and being consistent in discipline to help them thrive. All the while pointing them to Jesus as the only One who always has been, and always will be, true to His word!
All is grace,