Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Parent's Second Most Important Job - Part 1

Obviously, a parent's first most important job is to love our children unconditionally, with our whole hearts. I believe the second most important job is to be consistent. Consistency is so crucial to the proper training of our children. Not only does being consistent in our discipline lead to well-behaved children, it also provides them with a sense of security and stability. When I am not consistent, a misbehavior that was shooed away yesterday because I was too busy is repeated today. When I discipline that behavior today, don't I just come across as a bully? I can almost hear my children thinking: "But it was okay yesterday. I don't understand why mama is mad at me."

Yet, believe me, I know it is SO hard. In fact, I would say it can be incredibly hard at times. As a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother, I am with my children all day, every day. There are many, many times when it is just easier to overlook a misbehavior, or to make a half-hearted attempt to stop it and then not follow through. And I hate to say this, but I still fall into this trap more often than I'd like to admit. This is just plain Laziness (yes, with a capital L) on my part! I know better, yet I myself am not disciplined enough to discipline my children properly. The ironic thing in this situation is that if I am disciplined in my consistency, my children are disciplined properly, and the instances of misbehavior drop so much that disciplining is not even necessary at most times. When I am consistent, my children behave properly because they know that misbehaving is not even an option. When I am consistent, my children are happier, my husband is happier, and there is peace in our home. When I am consistent, I am able to relax a little and have more fun with my family. When I am consistent, parenting never, ever feels difficult.

Because I am purposing to make consistency a MUST-DO on my daily list everyday, I have been researching and brainstorming ideas and materials to help me. I need to be accountable for this to my husband and to myself, so failure is not an option. My first step will be to "pray without ceasing" and trust the Lord to help me be the mother He created me to be. If I put anything else as my first step, I believe my efforts would certainly fail. (They have in the past! *See my previous post on strength.)

One resource that I am very excited to implement I found on It is called the "If-Then Chart" and here is a description of it from the website:

"This chart is designed to help you be more consistent in
disciplining your children. When they disobey, it will help you know what you need to do, and it will help them know what to expect. It has helped my husband and me to be more united in our authority and discipline. Our children have responded very well. The chart is divided into 3 columns. The left-hand column lists common areas of misbehavior (arguing, complaining, hitting, defiance, etc.), each illustrated with a simple cartoon. The center column gives a Bible verse related to each sin. The third column is blank, for you to write in the agreed-upon
consequences for each misbehavior. The instructions offer suggestions,
but you choose your own disciplinary actions. Our regular wall chart version includes pre-lettered consequences to paste onto your chart, and the small laminated version gives suggestions for writing in your own consequences with a permanent or wipe-off marker."

Doesn't that sound wonderful? I'm hoping to order one soon, and in the meantime I may try to create something similar on my own. I encourage you to check out the website though. It is full of wonderful, godly child-training tools, curriculum, and encouragement.

Another resource I just love is The discipline ideas here are great, and consistency is stressed as the most important parenting tool. The website (and book) are full of wonderful information and ideas. The central idea is "tomato-staking" and I know from first hand experience how wonderfully this tool works. We did this a few years ago when our oldest was 6 and the results, in not just behavior but also attitude and heart, were instantaneous. However, I have not upheld my end and been consistent in keeping this up. I long for the fun and peace we would have in our home if I had. I plan to re-read all the information provided on the website and begin implementing it with our 3 youngers. (As a side note, we do not spank, per Eric's wishes. While mild swatting is part of the tomato staking plan for severe infractions, and only as a means to get the attention of the offending child, we do not follow this part. I would love to hear from anyone else in this situation and what you have replaced the spanking with. **If this element bothers you, I encourage you to go to the website and see what Elizabeth herself has to say on it. Her response is eloquent and informative. Please do not discount the rest of her ideas just for this reason.)

So, now I am off to pray, read, and put all my efforts into being consistent, consistent, consistent. I still have lots more to write on this issue though, so I will be continuing it in a few days. I will also update you on the results of my efforts.


A Grammatical Disclaimer

I freely admit to consistently using improper grammar in the following areas:
1. I like run-on sentences.
2. I have a tendency to end sentences with a pronoun. (I really do. I can't help it.)
3. I always seem to use passive voice in my sentences. (See?)

I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

Hence, I invoke Blogger Artistic License for this blog!

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