My mom gave me one piece of advice concerning parenting when my, now 26 year old, Angel, was born. “Be consistent. Say what you mean and deliver what you promise.”
This took some time to make sense in my life. At 24 balance was having the ability to carry three glasses of water at one time. Over time, and the blessings of two other daughters, AnnaLynne, now 24 and Rachel, now 22, Mama’s words have been the guiding force in my efforts to achieve a deepening relationship with my girls in their adult lives.
Consistency builds confidence in relationships. The balance comes when we have established a history of saying what we mean and meaning what we say. It is not an easy task, but one we often look for in others.
Someone once said about parenting, “if your aim is to raise a rebel, all you need to do is send a kid mixed messages”. Say one thing, do another. Easy to do, hard to overcome. Gone are the days of “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do”. Children are catching more than we realize. Certainly more than we are teaching. Newsflash for me was that I cannot teach what I don’t know or what I won’t do. I am ill-equipped to lead where I will not go.
Observe a young child at play and watch how they routinely do things. If they drop their cup and it’s picked up, they learn the game really quick. It’s fun to have someone’s undivided attention. The game last until the older person calls it. Consistently in life equates to a secure feeling. Routine is just plain comfortable.
We like our normal. Several months after 9/11, I heard someone say on the radio that people had been “overly” nice since the tragedy. He was hoping to receive an unkind “gesture” while driving to work on the New Jersey turnpike just so he could have his “normal” expectations of life back.
In coaching boundaries, as I begin working with a client, I encourage them to find support through people who respect their right to say yes or no at will and not out of obligation. In order to practice giving or serving out of their freedom, I suggest that if they are unable to fully commit to an event or project, that they decline. If things work out to sign on to the plan, it is easier to turn a “no” to “yes” than turning a “yes” to “no”. It’s a better way to win friends and the influence is positive because people come to trust when they experience people who do what they say. Then, in committing to the task, it’s a fully intentional effort with no resentment for feeling “bulldozed” into doing something they really didn’t want to do.
The voice that speaks for us should be our own. A consistent voice that considers the impact our words or actions may have on another before we do them; yet a voice that agrees to do life as we choose and not out of fear of the reactions of others.
Sheri Geyer is a Christian Life Coach, Mentor, Writer, Wife & Mom