Consistency is key

Is being consistent with things as hard for you as it is for me? I guess I'm consistent with stuff that's not good for me. Usually because it doesn't take a lot of diligence or willpower. Those things are usually the easy things to do.
Not work out.
Eat fast food instead of homemade food.
"forget" to pay a bill on time.
stay up late and ignore the fact that tomorrow's wake up comes pretty early.
watch tv or spend time online instead of time with God, or my family or friends in real life. 

For me, the area I find the most difficultly being consistent is in parenting. It is a daily, minute by minute challenge for me.
All of my kids need consistency from Jason and me, but there are two in-particular who crave it. They just don't know they crave it ;-) 
In fact, the two of them think they hate it, but like all discipline, what we hate the most is probably the best for us.
I used to hate being patient. It was like pulling teeth. In fact, I would rather have had teeth pulled if it meant getting to the outcome quicker. No joke.
Its still not my favorite thing, but through the years God has given me the grace to learn wait patiently and to be content with the waiting. And also to see Him working in me while I wait. Its a beautiful thing. But I'm 33... and the two kids I'm referring to aren't.

Here's an area where faithful consistency is needed and its SO easy to cave...
{I'm going to use an actual event that happened today}

Me to child: "Oh, before you get the Play Mobil out, be sure to hang up your jacket." 
Child: "I did hang it up!" {in a an annoyed tone}
Me: "No, you didn't. Its right here on the floor. If you hung it up, it would be on the hook and not here." 
Child: {getting more and more emotional, throwing hands in the air and other such gestures}
"I did! I hung it up and then came out here. I did! Its not my fault. I DID hang it up!" 
Me: "Obviously you didn't. Do you think someone came and took it off the hook and threw it on the playroom floor? You need to grab your coat and just say, 'yes Mommy, I'll go hang it up now.'" 
Child begins to cry; moan as if they have been undergoing hours and hours of torture, rub their eyes - for some reason making our eyes look all red and blotchy makes us appear right {I know this, because I used to do it}.
I repeat what I said before. That they just need to pick the coat up and say "yes mommy" and go hang the coat up.
Child continues to freak out and sob. At this point I think the phrase, "This is SO not fair!" is coming out of their mouth and I'm still trying to figure out how on earth this little show is easier than just hanging the coat up.
So I take the coat and send the child to their room. I say "you may not play now, you need to go to your room and I will come in a few minutes and you will be disciplined." 
SOBS. Major sobs. The child begins to beg me {in a praying motion- treating me as if I'm the meanest, most abusive task master} that I will please take this 'sentence' away. "Please mommy. I'll obey you. Please! I will hang up my coat and I'll do it cheerfully." 

Hmmm... So they really do know what to do. They're not fooled by our requests.

I told you that story because its just one of many many times throughout our day where we deal with this. And like I said, all 3 big kids have their moments and Miles I'm sure will have his... but 2 really deal with this on a daily basis.
And that is just one example of the many times I am SO tempted to just say "go hang up your coat and quit being such a baby about it." and not deal with his/her heart issue at all. Or tempted to be as big of a baby as their being and yell back at them, or use my incredible gift of sarcasm, or provoke them in some other way.
When the child responds by throwing a fit, sobbing, refusing to obey, I have little bird in my head saying, "this would be so much easier if you would've just hung up the coat when you saw it laying there. After all this child is only this age and maybe its too much to expect of them." ....I hate that little bird.
 I firmly believe kids have a way of picking up quickly on our weaknesses. They learn so fast what our limits are and how far they have to push us to either get their way or to know when its time to back-peddle and manipulate us.
Jason and I have a rule that if you argued or disobeyed to the point of Daddy or Mommy having to hand out a discipline, you do not get another chance to get out of whatever discipline is coming your way. You do not get to say "okay, okay, I'll obey you!" And we do not do 'time outs' in our home. You either have 'the talk' from Daddy and/or Mommy, or you're discipline immediately.
There are times when we don't even give one chance - those times are when we know that child knows the rules and there is no confusion about it. Especially if what they did was dangerous.

Sometimes we show mercy because we want to see them do the right thing and we hope by us reminding them about what God says about obedience and asking them to obey God and us, that they will do it. But if it leads to us declaring that they will be punished in some way, we don't back down.
And that is SO hard. Its hard for two reasons:
1.) I don't like having to discipline them.
2.) I don't like having to drop what I'm doing to step away for however long the discipline/talk/prayer will take.
Some kids know how to get you right to that limit and to wait and see what the punishment is going to be, before they decide to obey.

With each child I have, I learn more and more about parenting. I see dumb things I did with our first child and realize it needs to be different. We see more of our own weaknesses as parents and learn what new areas to ask God for help in, and with each new child comes a whole new personality.
It makes me laugh when people say "Miles looks a lot like Kara - does he act just like her?" Um... no. He's not Kara. They do resemble each other in looks,  but Miles is a whole different person and definitely has his own unique personality.
That one is hard for me sometimes to embrace and appreciate. I find myself sometimes thinking it would be so easy if all my kids were exactly the same. It would be easy to premeditate what they'd all do, it would be easy to understand how to deal with each one, and school would be really easy - one set of books for each child to go through and boom! Done.
I do find it a blessing when I see how different our kids can be. You get such a mixture of logical, creative, passionate, passive, creative, follower, imaginative, stubborn, even tempered, hot tempered, etc....

So for me, consistency has a lot to do with not being lazy. When I slip up in consistency in any area of life, I realize I've grown lazy in that area. Its hardest for me when I'm on the phone, or watching a movie, or on the Internet, or just busy in a groove doing something I need to do. This is why I've recently begun cutting out the things that have a way of distracting me big time from the #1 priority in my life, which is my family.
I love my kids. I want them to grow up to be happy, useful members of society. I want them to be loving and well balanced adults. I don't want to watch my adult children and wonder how they grew to be so lazy, self focused adults with such an entitled spirit.
Not because I fear it will look badly on me {okay, maybe a little bit} but because I want them to live peaceful, happy lives that are glorifying to God. I don't want them to be slaves to their sin and their own dysfunctional personalities.
This is yet another area where I get a glimpse of God's mercy to me in my life. To see His chastisement and discipline as amazing areas where He's rooting out sin and working in my heart. Instead of resenting it, being thankful that God doesn't leave me to myself. He cares for me and wants to see me live with a pure conscience, clean hands and an upright heart.

So here comes Monday. The start of a new week. I'm praying for my own consistency in the areas of my life that need it most and I hope you'll do the same, if this is an area that you struggle in.
Also, if you find that God has really blessed you in this area, do share! I've love any pointers you'd have for me :)

3 {comments}:

gretchen said...

I have one child who continually pokes, trips,or snarls at his siblings. The others live in fear walking around him or they get in his face and won't back down. Friday I had to deal with a punch to the gut that resulted in his brother puking (ok a tad bit dramatic I thought). It was as if that moment drew a line in the sand. He received swift and immediate consequences from a mom who did not lose her cool. By the grace of God!!
We had a long talk about his heart and how unhappy he is because only one of 2 people can reign in your heart. We prayed as we often do. He prayed that God would forgive him and change his heart. I also explained to him that because I love him I will NOT let one poke grunt or jab go unpunished. He has talked several times throughout the weekend about how he believes God has changed his heart and his behavior has drastically improved so I'm encouraged.
I'm a firm believer in addressing the heart issue as I know you and Jason are also.
Like you praying for a better week this week.

Stef said...

ah, Gretchen! Yes... we have had kids that go through those weird phases of NOT keeping their hands to themselves and at the injury of other siblings. I hate that :(
So glad for the prayer and outcome! What an encouragement. I've told Jason several times that just when I feel completely deflated, God brings repentance and I'm really encouraged by the change.
I'll pray for you guys as well this week!

Gina said...

You're absolutely right--it IS all about consistency which is why it's so terribly hard. If you've ever noticed that kid behavior can be awesome for a while and then be terrible for a time and flip back and forth & you look at it well enough you'll also see the parental consistency level has equally fluctuated. We parent well and consistently=they behave well. They behave well and we think--Yes! Progress! So we get lax. Lax=bad kid behavior. Vicious cycle.


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