Google+ Authentic Parenting: How About Consistency? (rerun)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How About Consistency? (rerun)

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



  1. How many times have you heard (well maybe you haven't)"children thrive on routine?" I don't know that they do, because if you maintain the same routine all the time, there's no room for anything different. I'd never want to turn down playing with friends because "it'll mess up his schedule."

    Children need to know that, no matter what, their caregivers are there for them. That's the consistency that they need.

  2. I wrote a long comment and Blogger ate it!

    The mainstream parenting scene is obsessed with "consistency". The parents I know who vehemently subscribe to this theory are often either A. not nearly as consistent as they believe, while being rigidly opposed to examining themselves in this, or B. verging on authoritarian such to ultimately stunt their children's full development. I do think most these parents are operating out of Fear and a need for their kids to "turn out right". Of course as you say, all kids change, and no two kids have the same temperaments!

    "Consistency is required in the sense that you cannot first say yes and then no or the opposite."

    But I have done this many times. Not because I'm a "waffler" but because I genuinely respect my kids and when they advocate for their needs I listen and consider them (instead of merely pretending to). That said, we practice Consensual Living (I dislike labels in general but for brevity's sake, there one is) and I doubt anyone who knows us in person would think we seem inconsistent or chaotic, etc.

  3. Kelly, about the saying no:
    we (try to) keep no for danger only, so if we were to say no and then yes, that would be very confusing and no would lose its 'power' for my child.
    However... I must admit I am not perfect in this object, I do say no sometimes and don't mean it and then possible I end up saying yes.
    Not sayig no s a very difficult thing to do, it really requires rewiring our entire system.

    In those situations, we shouldn't use the word no in the first place. If we are indeed open for debate, then why don't we respond differently then with a blunt no...
    Mmm I sens that this might become a post of its own

  4. I love what you are saying and i completely agree. It is important to discuss child rearing with your partner BEFORE the children are there, for both of you to be on the same page even though the exact action might differ with each event. Children are different, not only from one era to the next, but from their very own blood-line as well, and to simply blab out whatever you experienced as a child does not work.

    Consistency for us is to always be willing to look at the situation at hand, and when she is older, discuss it with her (even now, but it is more of a speech than a discussion), to make sure she knows what happened, what the consequences are and how to learn from it. Consistency for us is assessing each situation on its own. Consistency for us is always attending to problems with love and care.

    like you said.


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