Each week, I have the opportunity to drive on Ft. Leonard Wood, an Army military base in Mid-Missouri. While driving, I see a noticeable difference in how people drive on base as opposed to off base. Nearly every driver obeys every rule of the road. Speed limits are strictly adhered to, blinkers are used, and NO ONE has a cell phone plastered to their ear. Why? Because driving on a military base is a privilege which can be revoked at any time. If the sign says 35 miles per hour, driving 36 will get you a ticket. Military bases are known for their consistency. If you are pulled over by Military Police, expect a ticket and/or a revocation of your base driving privileges.
Now, apply that concept to our homes. Successful parenting requires consistency! Children not only have to know what their boundaries are, they need to know that the boundaries will not move. They need to know what is expected of them. For instance, if your dinner rule is “clean your plate or no dessert,” and your child claims to be too full for their peas and carrots, they don’t get any dessert. Not only that, the peas and carrots go into the refrigerator to be eaten at their next meal, every time! I do not require my children to clean their plate if they are really too full, but I do not allow them to throw the food away. If they dished more than they could really eat, no problem, save it for the next meal. But don’t give into their pleading and whines and reward them with dessert. The same consistency should apply to rewards. If your bedtime routine includes a story and prayers, be consistent every night. Meals, bedtime, chores, curfew, manners, and respect all need clear expectations with consistent rewards and consequences.
But, there is also a compelling case for grace and mercy, which will be covered next week.
Vicki and her husband Terry are the parents of eight children and were named Colorado Parents of the Year and Family of the Year, 2001. Vicki is the author of two books, many articles, former talk show host, and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. To get your parenting questions answered, write to Vicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.