30 August 2011

If Consistency is the Key to Good Parenting, I'm Stuffed.

Every parenting expert says the same thing.
Whatever the technique they are expounding, the key to everything seems to be consistency.

The one bloddy thing I am completely crap at.
Why couldn't the key to raising great kids be, "hosting great parties" or "feeding them regularly" or something I could actually do.
But no.
It has to go and be Consistency.
The one thing in life that seems forever beyond my grasp.

Trying to be consistent is for me, like trying to grasp a slithering eel. Nigh on impossible.
I'm a great starter upper. I'm an ideas person.
If you are stuck for inspiration, come talk to me.
Ideas will bubble forth like oil from a Texas gusher.
I do great on projects. I come up with great schemes.
But whatever you do don't ask me to maintain any of my innovations.
Once I get past the start-up phase I will lose interest and become completely bored with the day-to-day running of whatever great operation I've cooked up.
It's just the way I am, the way I'm wired, so to speak.

Unfortunately this tendency spills over into my parenting.
Oh I have great ideas. I get all inspired and motivated.
I re-organise, re-decorate, re-prioritise.
I create tick-charts and to-do lists and all kinds of things...
Ways to get the kids eating their fruit and veges.
Ways to get the kids cleaning their teeth or their rooms.
Ways to make lazy boys do homework, thumb-suckers stop sucking, nappy-wearers start toileting.
Ways to encourage kindness, stamp out squabbling.
Stickers and stamps, reward jars, pocket money.
Time out, confiscation, grounding and banning.

I try every trick in the book in an effort to raise decent humans.
Believe me.

But then I get distracted. Side-tracked. Busy.
I forget to tick charts, pay pocket money, hand out rewards.
I revert to nagging and scolding, warning and promising.
Empty words.
Gah!!! Consistency, where were you when character traits were issued?
Come on, stickability! Where are you when I need you?

I am growing nervous.
My eldest child is a few months off Nine.
And you know what comes after Nine. Double Digits, that's what.
Then its all over bar the shouting as the race to puberty begins and the teenage years loom large.
How did this happen? Where did the time go?
I thought I'd have plenty of time to practise my parenting skills before things got serious.
I'm still unprepared, still figuring out the basics, still trying to find a plan that works!

Oh its so confusing these days!
When my parents were raising my siblings and I, things were so much simpler.
"Do it now because I said so, or else...!" And we did.
"Go to your room and wait til your father gets home!" And we did.
"Go and bring me the wooden spoon..." And we did.

Not that I'm advocating smacking. No, I am sure that we are so much more enlightened now.
But I tell you what, I never spoke to my parents the way my kids speak to me at times.
I was obedient. I helped with chores. I did my homework without being told. And I never ever answered back.

So while I am glad that we as a society have moved on from the bad old days of "My Way or the Highway" parenting, in some ways I am envious of the simplicity of those Stone Age Times.
When there was A Way Things Were Done.
Parents were not constantly second-guessing themselves and trying to figure out how to get their kids to cooperate, behave, and grow up without becoming delinquents.
My parents were so confident in their role.
They never once apologised for mistakes they made. Not that I think that was a good thing, at all.
But that's how confident they were in what they were doing.

Me? I am a confused mess of guilt and anxiety; dreading my son hitting the next level.
Worrying that he is ill-equipped, not strong-enough to withstand peer pressure.

I'm scared that I have not yet found the right way to parent.
And most of all I am hoping against hope that if I do manage to find that elusive perfect parenting plan, it won't turn out to be something that is dependent on me being consistent at it.
Which is highly unlikely.

{Am I alone in this? Can I hear from any parents who have seen their kids through the teenage years... how consistent do you really have to be and what worked for you? What was the most important ingredient in raising great adults? PS If you say "Consistency" I might cry}  

How consistent are you on a scale of 1-10: with 1 being pretty rubbish at it like me, and 10 being absolutely consistent without fail...?

{Images found on GoogleImageSearch}

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meg said...

Simoney you probably don't want to hear from me because I'm about an 8! I do my best to be consistentish because that's what works for us. I have no idea about kids older than seven though! Our oldest in particular has never coped well with change, he likes to know what's going on and what the consequences are... the little one doesn't really seem to care! I still regularly struggle with his behaviour. Good luck I say! x

TracyP said...

were you talking about me? Have you had hidden camera in my house? I am excactly the same .. I'm a good starter upper not such a good follow througher!! I am most definately a 1!!

Cat said...

Routine all the way in this house (what would you expect when the female parent is OC!)
I'd be 7.5-8 . . .
Try not to be too hard on yourself xxx

Jenn said...

I'm the same...but at least we're consistently inconsistent eh??

Weza said...

Simoney, by nature I am like you, a starter, ideas girl, but the mundane every day tasks KILL me. I think thats why I struggle with parenting, the day in day out ground hogness of it all. Dont get me wrong I LOVE my kids, but boy its a tough job. I have raised a teenager and my biggest advice is to keep talking. Always be their confidant. Be firm, but fair. Negotiate on the small things and stay strong on the big ones. Have their friends at your place. That way you know whats going on. and last but not least be prepared to drive everywhere. It is actually the time that my son did most of his confiding, while sitting beside me in the car.

Unknown said...

I must admit that I am very consistant. This is mostly because I have 5 kidlets, and if I'm not, instead of me running the house, they run me... ragged!

Simoney said...

THANKYOU WEZA! Because being a "confidant" and having them {him} talk to me is something that I DO do.
I treaseure the fact that he talks to me, confides in me. I can do that!! thankyou my lovely freind!!

Rae Ann said...

I'm probably a 7. I try to be consistent, but it doesn't always work. I tried to be mean - I mean firm - enough when they were little to let them know I meant business by the time they could get in real trouble. My oldest is only 6, so I'll let you know how that works out in 10 years or so!

PaisleyJade said...

I'm the more consistent one in our home, but hubby is the exciting 'starter upper'. I think people like you and him are the ones that bring life into a family! You and your hubs would make a perfect match. I do struggle with being consistent in some areas though!

Unknown said...

I am so like you! I start things up and then get bored or distracted or just plain frustrated. It's one of the things I don't like about myself. My husband is the same... what a pair we make, eh? A house full of unfinished projects and abandoned activities. Ho hum. You're not alone. Thank God that He is consistent in His grace and mercy, right?

Barbs said...

You could have been talking about me too. We have loose routines but I'm shocking at follow through. Trying to get better.

My big boy just turned 11 and he is the master of the one word answer - how was your day? Good. That's our usual conversation after school. However there are times when he wants to talk and you have to be open to having the conversation then and there, regardless of what else is happening.

One of things we do to keep in touch with everyone is to have our highlights of the week dinner on a sunday night where each of us talks about the week we have had, and then when everyone has finished, we talk about what we are looking forward to for the coming week. We also talk about our low-lights if there is something that has gone wrong too. The kids really enjoy it and look forward to it.

meg said...


awesome song, teenager and his one word answers

Rebecca said...

You are consistent at loving and wanting the best for your kids...I think that matters most!!

I'm not so good at keeping up with all the other stuff too!! Yikes

Love Wezas advice, and as another mum of a teenager I'd recommend making sure they're planted in Tne house of God...it's made all Tne difference around here....especially too once Tney want to start socializing, I'm so thankful they have such an awesome place to go hang out with great friends and leaders

Carey Morris said...

LOL your post today completely resonated with me! My 4.5 year old...still in pullups, co sleeping with me (Dad is in the spare bed), and breastfed to sleep. Sigh. We have a half filled sticker chart for toileting but that got boring for him. My older son only has to turn on the waterworks and I'm a pushover. ParentingInc had a great mean mummy pledge in a recent issue which is helping me be firmer. At least you care enough to worry about not being consistant!

Barbs said...

Meg - that video is a classic.

Penny said...

ha ha Simone, great post!
God made you exactly as He wanted you by the way. Nothing's missing at all.
Love what Rebecca said about being consistent with your love.
I guess I'm about a 6 or 7 with consistency. Being tired or frustrated makes me even worse.

Sophie said...

I had a heart to heart with my friend Caz the other week... I was totally freaking out after a conversation about teenagers misusing horrible words to mean something completely different. My friend Caz has teenagers and she is always gushing positive about them. It gave me hope that parenting teenagers might actually not be as bad as my fears. She said that the key to parenting teenagers was relationship - echoes of Weza's comment I think! She said if you build a good relationship with them when they're little, the teenage years are a breeze! She genuinely (no faking it) ENJOYS her teenagers. Sure they have their stressy moments but they also do a lot of going out as a family, they get to go shopping, to cafes, to the movies together, they have a laugh and they're kids are genuinely lovely!! It gives me hope and the desire to speak about the teenage years positively, prophetically.

Simoney said...

Thankyou girls! I also love what Rebecca said - and especially since she is the mother to a teenager or two!
YEs, consistent in LOVE. i am at least THAT, and ALWAYS wanting the best for them. And creating great fun memories for them. So i guess maybe I AM consistent at SOME things...? Thankyou so much for your encouragement and wisdom, ladies!

Leonie said...

Oh Simone, I am so like you. I am consistent'sh. ... I get bored with the same old same old.
But I love what Weza said and I totally agree.
I read somewhere that talking is really important, keep those communication lines open.
And LOVE, how can we go wrong with love.
I often think I am bumbling along with this parenting thing, and then I see the best of my children and know I am doing something right...and pat myself on the back (and hubby again too very soon ...he's the consistent one).
keep going girl you are doing great, and you are a great mum!

Amy said...

Consistency in parenting is perhaps trumped by one thing - wisdom.

The "how to just roll with it" vs allowing the consequences to impact.

It is a balance of grace. Not knowing all the answers but walking lightly and confidently in the knowledge that you are the coach and parent that was chosen for those particular children.

If we knew what we were doing, I guess we wouldn't need a God. And I reckon Mothers need Him more than most! :)

jacksta said...

I can completely relate to this post. I think we all find it hard to be consistant. Maybe our parents struggled with the same second guessing issues but have long forgotten...or dont want to own up to it!
Ive done the rewards etc too...but Ive found that the nagging and punishment system ultimatley still works...even if only in the short term...just like in our parents day ;)

Dora Romero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra Marasco said...

Consistency in parenting is like teaching your children the things you want them to learn over and over again. As a single parent and a mompreneur, I always show my daughter how to be independent so she can stand on her own when the time comes.

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