The dictionary defines consistency as: 1. degree of density, firmness, viscosity,
2. steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.. 3. agreement, harmony, or compatibility, 4. the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form; solidity or firmness.
In some cases consistency is desired like the consistency of mashed potatoes or gravy or the way colors come together in a room. But when it comes to raising children, I wonder if we are missing the mark here. In a world that is always changing and at such a rapid rate it can be difficult to keep up. Do we want to be stuck in rules, structures and control that don't allow our children to move, change and choose what works best for them? Conforming to strict methods teaches our kids that other possibilities don't exist because heaven forbid we stray away and not be consistent. Even when you are setting rules in your house can there be allowance for something else to take place? Is it possible to stay up past bedtime when an activity goes beyond the time?
In reading through the definition, which feels very heavy, it seems to be more about controlling and having power over than there is in creating true harmony and choice and empowerment. Parents who are looking at being consistent in their discipline and their rules will find that they will be constantly judging themselves and their kids. None of this is creating relationships that are allowed to grow and have a voice. If you aren't consistent with dinner time every night what will your child learn- perhaps that we only really eat when our bodies require it? If you insist on a certain bedtime whether your child is tired or not what are you teaching them- not to listen to their bodies for when rest is required? Is it really reasonable to discipline a child every time they make a mistake? In today's world it is more and more difficult to be consistent in these matters because life is changing at such rapid rates. Asking questions will be more beneficial than trying to take control of your child's life. You will be able to access the core of what is really going on. It will allow much more ease in your life too.
So what areas of your family life is consistency needed? Where would consistency add to your life and where does it limit it? In some ways consistency can also get boring for some folks because it doesn't allow for change. If I were to look for consistency in my parenting it would be along the lines of being more consistent in not judging myself or my child, being in true allowance, letting go of my reacting, and stepping into being more of the question. Notice that none of this is really about your child, it is about doing what makes you a better person. Even good practices can wear out and be replaced with some new ones if we are aware of what isn't working any longer and are willing to do something different.
A key questions to also honestly ask yourself is; Am I victim of enforced consistency and therefore I must enforce this for my own family? How comfortable am I with change? Is now the time to change any of that for you? What freedom might that create for you? What would you be able to teach your kids about change? I can hear some you telling me-BUT wait, my kid doesn't do well with change and needs things to be consistent. I would just ask if that is really true or are they challenging you to step into less consistency and more allowance to live moment by moment. As always do what works best for you and your kids, and be open to exploring this belief that seems to be causing some dis-ease for families.
One last awareness I have with regards to how people are using consistency. As I read through quotes encouraging consistency the message I get is more about movement-keep moving towards your target, towards your vision, don't stop. And even with that aren't there times that when we stop we actually get an updated course that may be different than when we started? For me I think consistency will stay with my mashed potatoes and gravy and even with that it changes.