Well, parents, you’ve probably read all the parenting books, listened to the parenting experts, and implemented all the parenting tips, and if so, you’ve probably heard the phrase consistency is key. But there’s a way to enforce consistency with inconsistency.

That is, it’s important to be flexible, bendable, and allow for growth. It’s true that in order to establish a firm boundary at home, you’ve got to stay consistent in the messages you send to your children. You’ve got to stay steady in the way that you parent as well as keep consistent with your partner in parenting – your spouse.

So, it might feel like staying consistent means holding on to every rule you establish in your home – such as, no snacking after dinner, ever. No television before school, each and every weekday. No wavering from your spouse’s communication to the kids. Consistency might feel like trying to stay on track with each and every thing you say to your children.

But if you’re holding on to being consistent tightly, you might find that you’re failing at it time and again (and perhaps beating yourself up for it). Actually, it might be impossible to enforce every single law you lay down at home. For instance, perhaps you have a rule that says no eating in the bedrooms, but then one night you get a new television in your bedroom and the family decides to eat dinner in there while you watch a movie together. This doesn’t mean that you’ve broken the rule; it might instead mean that breaking the rules is fun once in awhile and that change is healthy.

So perhaps it’s time to let it go. Or at the very least, dig into a deeper meaning of the age-old parenting advice, consistency is key. For instance, consistency is needed in some cases. On subjects you know you’re not going to budge on, like drugs, consistency can be a very clear message to your children about what you’re willing to tolerate. And in fact, the deeper meaning to this rule is not so much that you stick to the laws and parent with an iron fist. Instead, consistency is that you say what you mean and you mean what you say.

In fact, it’s important that rules change as children do. As they develop and grow, different rules are going to apply. But what’s important in staying consistent is that children know what is expected of them. Having clear boundaries, clear expectations, and a clear message of what you’re wiling to tolerate is healthy for the psychological development of children. Staying consistent is being consistent in your boundaries and expectations. It’s important to have fun and break the rules every once in awhile.

When you’re consistent but flexible, perhaps you and your family will find new rules to live by, like Choose Love, Be Kind, and Have Fun.