Family Life: Predictability in Affirmation and Consequences

(This post was written by Chuck Carringer, Pastor of Family Ministries)

Parents, can our children predict our reaction in most situations? It’s best if they can. I want to effectively communicate so that my children know my expectations. Along with my expectations I want my kids to know my likely reaction to their behavior, positive or negative. (I always have the option to provide grace). I want to be predictable when it comes to affirmations and consequences. Our consistency as parents enables our kids to have clear behavioral boundaries and also serves to provide a sense of security. I believe that most people and certainly children, desire to please those who love them.  That being said, I do not want to take it for granted when my children meet my expectations. I want to be affirming.  I want to recognize those behaviors I want repeated. Zach, our 16 year old son, has the responsibility of taking the kitchen trash out to the garbage can. Although, it is my expectation that Zach will perform this task when needed without reminder, I still want to affirm him for a job well done.

Predictability is equally important when our children don’t meet our expectations.  I don’t believe that every behavioral transgression should merit the same response.  For example, we expect our children to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher.  We also expect that they tell the truth.  My response for failing to meet my expectation would be significantly different in those two situations.  As you can imagine, not telling the truth would have a greater consequence than not placing your dish in the dishwasher.  The exact consequence in each of our homes is not as important as the predictability of the response.  Our kids need to know and be secure that Mom and Dad are going to respond consistently.

Can your children predict your affirmations and consequences?