Monday, April 5, 2010

The consistency conundrum

I am currently intoxicating myself with chocolate as quickly as I can (which lends itself to my current issue with my weight...but we will address that later) before I am forced to throw it all away. Every single last piece of candy is going in the trash. I hate consistency.
My mom was not consistent. I remember when I was nine my friend and I hid in a tree to make my mom thought we had been taken (horrible!) and my friend was in major trouble and me? Well, I set my own punishment of being grounded for a week which really only lasted about a day. Or my mom would chase me around and around the kitchen with a wooden spoon until I wore her out and she forgot why she was chasing to begin with. Consistency was definitely not her forte. And so I, knowing EVERYTHING about parenting before I had children knew that I was going to be the Queen of Consistency.
And then I had kids.
Dave and I took a parenting class in Kalispell and one session talked about threatening and bribing parents - which we all are at points. Threatening parents are the ones who say, "If you do this I will..." and bribing parents are the ones who say, "If you don't do this, you get..."
And I sadly fall into the threatening parent category so often. So often, unfortunately, that I am pretty sure my kids let my idle threats go in one ear and out the other. And if I was my kid, I know for sure that would be what I would do!
"If you do that one more time, I'm taking away all your toys!" Really? You know how long that would take? Idle.
"If you don't pick up your trains, I'm throwing them away!" Really? Those trains cost so much money! Idle.
"If you continue that behavior, I guess your friends just won't come over!" Really? I need the conversation with their mama just as much as they want their friends to come over. Idle.
I remember a long time ago I was listening to a speaker and the topic was consistency because apparently everyone struggles a bit with it (who woulda thunk?) and the guy was talking about a parent who's son was behaving horribly in their house one winter day. Finally, the dad said, "If you do that one more time, I'm going to throw you out this window into the snow!" Totally idle threat I'm sure, but the kid called his bluff and the dad made good on his threat. The kid was thrown out into the snow in shorts and a t-shirt. The kid learned that day that his dad was serious.
I, however, am not that dad. Today, hence why I am throwing away all the Easter candy, my kids were in a sugar coma from yesterday. This morning, their Easter baskets were sitting on the top of the cupboards in the kitchen way up high. But the thought of having candy, no matter where it may be in the house was just too much for them to handle. By seven this morning Luke had asked me for candy at least 75 times - no exaggeration! Finally, after having quite enough I put the kids down for a nap - early.
When they woke up, I told Luke that if he was good and watched Barney nicely while I took a quick shower that I would be happy to let him have a piece of candy, but if they didn't I would be throwing away all the candy. When I walked downstairs, there was Luke and Lily sitting on the floor with their faces dripping with chocolate. Luke had the scissors in his hand and Lily had a cheese knife trying to open a m&m egg. Needless to say, I was livid!
Not only did Luke question if I was going to deliver on my promise of candy if he was good, but he also didn't believe me when I told him that if he touched it it would be in the trash.
Long story short, I took his candy away for about 2 hours before I let him have that m&m egg and as I handed it to him, his little face had this look of, "I knew she would cave" written all over it. And then I was reminded, I really need to start saying what I mean and meaning what I say.
So, candy is going in the trash tonight. And from now on, well, at least for awhile, I will only make promises that are reasonable and that I will deliver on if need be. No more idle threats.
How are you at being consistent? Do you struggle with it like I do? Are you a bribing parent or a threatening parent, or have you figured out how to be neither? Let me know!



All parents-to-be have absolute set standards they will follow when they have children, then reality sets in when they discover that each child has her/his own will. For all the mistakes I made as a parent, my kids all turned out to be good, upstanding, honorable adults! But I learned that kids do want and need guidance!

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