Below is the story of Diana, a mother who realizes that her lack of consistency is making it difficult for her to teach her children to be responsible. She recognizes her role in the situation, but she doesn’t know what to do about it because being consistent seems overwhelming. 

By considering her behavior from a place of compassion and curiosity instead of judgment and shame, Diana learns how to have more confidence in herself as an (inevitably) imperfect parent.

My Confession:

My name is Diana, and I have three children who are 10, 7, and 4. My husband works and I don’t, so I am home with the kids most of the time.

I have a great relationship with my kids. We spend a lot of time playing and enjoying each other’s company. There’s only one problem: They are not as responsible as I’d like them to be.

Sure, we have fun together most of the time. But when they need to get their homework done, or when I ask them to do any chores around the house, they complain and often don’t do what I ask. I know they’re old enough to do what I ask… they just don’t.

I know it’s my fault. I’m pretty inconsistent with what I ask them to do and with following up to make sure they’ve done what they’re supposed to. So if I ask my son to take out the trash, I don’t follow through to make sure he did it. If I’m being honest, most of the time when I ask them to do something, I just end up doing it myself.

Believe me, I understand the importance of being consistent. I have read all the books and blogs. But it’s just so much easier to do something myself than to fight with my kids to get them to do what I ask. That just takes energy and I don’t have extra energy to spare!

I feel bad because…

I worry that I’m raising kids who are irresponsible and feel entitled. I know I need to be more consistent, but the thought of that exhausts me.

Instead of making sure they do the things I ask, I just do it for them. And because they know that, they usually just wait for me to step in.

When I change my thoughts from a judgmental “Why do I DO that?” to a curious “Why DO I do that?” I realize that…

When I ask myself curiously why I am not consistent, I know that it’s because I’m tired. I’m doing so many things to run my house and family that I don’t have energy to follow behind them to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to.

When I see that something isn’t done, it’s honestly so much easier (both physically and emotionally) to do it myself.

The reason I did what I did is because…

I don’t know how to teach them to be responsible without feeling like I have to be a nag all the time.

I know I can’t “force” them to do something. And trying to convince them will just cause fights and tantrums.

My solution for doing something different in the future is…

I need to find a way to be more consistent. I’m so glad I’m spending some quality time with my kids, but I think I’m also teaching my kids that life is about having fun and doing what you want.

I think I just need to pick one thing and be consistent with it. I know it will overwhelm me to try to tackle too much at once, so I’m going to start slow… Asking them to do just one thing (like putting their dirty clothes in the hamper might) sounds less overwhelming than trying to get them to do everything at once. And we can talk ahead of time about what will happen if they don’t put their clothes in the hamper. Then I only have to focus on that one thing, and I can be consistent.

I also know that I need to stop worrying if they get upset when I ask them do something. They need to learn that there are rules that must be followed, and sometimes those rules will upset them. I think I’ve worried too much about having a great relationship with them…but having a great relationship doesn’t meant that you never make the other person upset! When I think about it, in most strong relationships people have expectations of each other and get upset with each other. I know ours will survive if I teach them how to be responsible! And I know I’ll feel better when I model being responsible (even when you don’t want to) myself.

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Diana’s frustration with herself makes so much sense. She is correct that consistency is important when teaching children how to be responsible.

At the same time, she needs to recognize that there are real reasons that she is not more consistent. Once she stops getting mad at herself and realizes what those reasons are, she can take steps to correct them. Both she and her children will respect her more when she takes action instead of focusing on her mistakes.

Contact me to discuss this skill or and other that will help you feel more confident in your ability to raise great kids — without expecting perfection from yourself or your children.