This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.
Consistency is very important in parenting, or so we are told. And rightly so, because, if we would be continuously changing our minds, or debating our partner's parenting, it would indeed be a confusing and probably even scary environment for a child to grow up in. But what exactly is consistency?
Consistency is often regarded as creating a set of rules and principles and living by them. Being consistent, viewed in this fashion, would mean that those rules and principles are not to be bent. It means they apply in every situation, in every time in the future and for each of your children. It means treating your children the same.
Sounds appealing? It shouldn't.
Setting unbendable rules is simply unrealistic. Times change. You change, and so may your principles. Not every child is the same and each of your children may require a different approach. Trying to treat them exactly the same is a slippery slope down to frustration, and an authoritarian parenting style (If rules are not to be bended, what is the result when your child breaks such a rule? Punishment?).
Consistency is indeed important, in the sense that you, your partner and any secondary caregiver are in tune with each other, that parenting choices, limits and boundaries and 'disciplinary measures' are discussed beforehand.
Consistency is required in the sense that you cannot first say yes and then no or the opposite.
But probably most important is the consistency of your love and affection for your child. This 'consistency' is of the utmost importance. This consistency implies that your affection is unconditional. It requires you to transmit your love to your child even on the days that are a little more difficult.
Being confident as a parent is probably oodles more important than being consistent. If you are secure about the choices you make in your parenting at that particular moment in time, and with this particular child, you are being authentic. If you are merely applying rules you have set years ago, based on principles you might not be so sure about anymore, for the mere sake of consistency, you are not being true to yourself, and this will translate in your parenting. Your child will sense this insecurity and will in turn be confused.
Image: Ed.Ward on Flickr