Me, “Consistency is comfortable, safe, loving and a pillar in parenting.” Tip 7
There were two things Michael knew for sure: 1) Dinner was at 5:30 2) At bedtime reading would happen. Those were two daily deliverables. I believe if any parent did only those two things right, they could do a lot wrong.
Michael also had some other constants, maybe not present in all homes. He knew who was in his home. He knew who was in bed with his Mother. He knew he would have food. He knew his needs would be met. He could find a fork, a towel, a pillow, and could count on us for ‘milk money.’ He didn’t have to think about these things, they just were.
Having stability and love gave his little mind a lot of room to grow. He wasn’t confused, tired, hungry, or afraid. He didn’t have to worry about what was waiting for him at the end of the day. His parents were 100% consistently there for him.
In my childhood there was little consistency. It was unpredictable, joyless, and fear ridden. Questions were not encouraged or answered, but rather met with ridicule and insult. It was not fun, and now at almost fifty-years-old sadly I still feel the effects.
I hesitate to ask for help or advice. I have severe panic when I make a loud noise or a visual mistake (even a typo). I am still learning who I am, what I like, and what my talents are. I was not guided to explore those things, anything, as a child.
I feel less than most often.
I struggle to believe my opinion matters and sometimes even that I matter. I still hear the negative messages after over thirty years of freedom. The damage of it all is more than I care to admit, and more than I’ve been able to repair.
I believe my brain development suffered. My personal and emotional development severely delayed. My goals, achievement and potential were greatly impeded.
My childhood environment provided me with internal voices that I push pass every single day in every single way, even as I type each line and post each post. As I produce material, as I take action, and as I start to feel worthy the harsh messages run simultaneously in my mind.
Although my parents didn’t have the tools to support my development in certain ways, I believe the damage could have been mitigated with consistency. Had there been a routine, something reliable, certain things I could count on, maybe I would have had more room to grow.
When every day is different and parental moods are unpredictable the confusion is so overpowering how can a child learn and develop. It’s kind of like putting a seed in a dish and hoping for a plant.
My advice would be for those who are damaged, as I was/am, reach for consistency. Implement some steady and definite anchors in your day that you can share with your child, even if you’re tired, depressed or feel like you just don’t have it in you – do it anyway!
Things like mealtimes, bedtime routines, story times, morning kisses, and evening check-ins will provide security. Consistency doesn’t require money or a lot of time. The little things can make a big difference. I know this for sure!
If you can respond quickly, or even anticipate their needs, they will learn trust, and will have more room to grow. Their little brains will make so many connections, their faces will smile, and they will learn to trust in a healthy way.
Even if you can’t be loving be consistent, I promise the love will follow.