By Erin Bird, 

Greetings once again, *|FNAME|*!

Before I jump into this week’s article, let me remind you that this Sunday (Sept 30) is Celebration Sunday! Our Riverwood Partners will be affirming our Elder Candidates (Luke Anderson, Tim Corcoran, and Ed Pavelec), as well as ratifying our new church constitution. It’s an incredibly important Sunday in the life of Riverwood, and I really want you to be part of it. So do whatever you can to be at Droste Hall down at the Fairground before 10:00 am this Sunday. (And be praying for Luke, Tim, and Ed!)

Parenting With Consistency
Last week, we began a series on Jesus-Centered Parenting by looking at the topic of Kindness. This week, I want you to consider the power of consistency in your parenting.

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If you are a parent, you make it difficult for your child(ren) to thrive in life if you are consistently inconsistent. For example, one day when they break something by dropping it on the floor, you respond very gently filling them with grace, but the next day when they do the same thing, you yell at them, filling them with shame. This confuses your kiddo tremendously, and makes them walk on egg shells around you, uneasy at how you are going to react moment to moment.

So clearly you want to be consistent. But let me add here – be consistent in the right ways.

For instance, you should not consistently hit your child when they mouth off at you. (First of all, that’s abuse. Second, you are teaching them to try to control others through physical violence.) Nor should you consistently call them demeaning names. (That’s verbal abuse, and also teaches them to manipulate others through hurtful words.)

Instead, you should seek to be consistent in grace & truth.

Consistent Grace, Consistent Truth
Jesus was described as being full of grace and truth. And if we are to be like Jesus in our parenting (and in life), we also need to seek to be full of grace and truth. And if you are full of grace and truth, you can’t help but give grace and truth. And consistently giving these two items can be extremely powerful in the life of your child. Here’s what I mean:

Consistently giving your child grace reveals you recognize your own failings and God’s tremendous grace toward you. Giving grace also lets your child learn through their mistakes, not just through a firm scolding word from you.

At the same time, truth matters. If your child lies to their teacher or to a friend, you don’t just “give them grace” as if its no big deal. You need to teach them the truth that lying is wrong and honesty really is the best policy. Help your child realize the importance of right and wrong.

Let me give you an imaginary scenario:

Your child asks to watch an episode of their favorite TV program. You tell them yes, but instruct them to turn off the TV as soon as the show is done. They happily sit down on the floor to watch their show while you head to another part of the house to get chores done.

An hour and a half later, as you move through the house, you suddenly realize you hear something that doesn’t sound like a child’s play, but rather like a TV show still playing. You head to the TV room to discover your child engrossed in their third episode. They clearly broke your rule and got lost up in the fun of binge watching their favorite show.

What do you do? First, give them grace. If you really stop to think about it, you’ve binge watched your own favorite program before. So be kind and forgiving.

However, what they did was wrong. They put their TV show above your guidelines. (If they continue that pattern in life, they will make lousy future employees, spouses, and parents.) So you might calmly talk with them about how their behavior was wrong, and decide together a plan for how to stop this in the future.

  • You could set a timer to remind them to turn off the TV.
  • You could agree together to watch no TV for the next couple of weeks.
  • You could figure out how to set the auto-timer on your smart TV to turn off at a certain time.
  • But whatever you decide to do, help them learn that right and wrong matters, and binge watching their show against your instructions is clearly wrong.

This type of consistency will help your children be emotionally healthy, which will also help them be spiritually healthy. After all, you ultimately want them to follow the One True God, who is consistently consistent. So give your kids a glimpse of their loving consistent Creator by asking the Holy Spirit to help you be consistent in your parenting.