Ahh consistency, the mark of a great parent, right? They are never pushovers, they do not give in to whining or wheedling. They set their rules and they stand by them. Once a consequence has been put in place, it will be enforced without exception. After all, children need consistency, they depend on it. They will push at the boundaries and if you, as the parent, give even a little then they will push harder and harder and get out of control.
We've all read this before, I'm sure.
All the parenting experts say it, and if the experts agree, then we should agree too, shouldn't we?
Well, I have realized that I disagree. (Yep, there's me, questioning the status quo again!)
I don't want to be a perfectly consistent parent. I want to be a reliable parent.
What is the difference? Well, a consistent parent is rigid, and unchanging. Once a rule is set then it is there and ne'er shall it budge. If we have a rule that you must eat your veggies before having any dessert then thus shall it be forever more! (so let it be written, so let it be done!!) Well, yes, good foods before treats is a general policy in our house...but every once in a great while isn't it fun to break that sort of rule? One night we took an idea from the disney channel and decided to have a "totally chocolate dinner." You should have seen the look on Wolf's eyes when we told him. It was a day that he reminded us of for months.
As a reliable parent my kids learn that it is ok to request making changes--this summer Wolf questioned his bedtime asked if we could move it a little later. We discussed that we had established it because he was in school and had to get up early, but concluded that since it was now summer we were willing to try out a later bedtime and see how it went. (Incidentally, we had tried that later bedtime a couple of times before, and it had not worked out, but just because something didn't work before doesn't mean it's not worth trying again.)
With a reliable parent my kids know that it's ok to ask questions about the status quo (hey, does that sound familiar?!) They know that I can be relied upon to make sure that there are always boundaries, but that sometimes the details are subject to change, and that is good. After all, each person is different, each age is different, and one of the most consistent things about parenting is change!