A child will feel secure if they live in a stable environment that has a flexible routine, boundaries and consistency. It is well known that children who live with chaos or in a war zone or under constant threat or abuse are not likely to reach their potential and will have low self-esteem. At an emotionally inappropriate age these children will have to take on parenting themselves and try to make sense of a world that is out of control. It is our job as parents to ensure that we give the best possible support to our children so they can become the person God wants them to be.
Stability – Parents, love each other. Show your children that you love each other every day. Make it obvious to them. Get a babysitter and go on dates because you recognise the need to keep your relationship alive and well for the sake of the children. Do not give your children any reason to doubt the stability of your relationship. If you argue then make up in front of them. Teach them that people have disputes or differing opinions but it does not mean that they hate each other or that a relationship is destroyed because of that. Show them how a relationship can survive rocky patches because Christ is in the boat with you.
Flexible routine - Some people love routine while others are less organised. A flexible routine allows the child to have some predictability in life. How many times has your child asked you what they are doing that day or the next? Children usually love the routine and predictability of school. They like to know what is going to happen next and that chaos is not going to reign.
Boundaries - Children love boundaries and rules even though they will not admit it. How many children have refused an invitation from a friend by saying they are not allowed to even before they have asked their parents? Boundaries allow a child to feel safe as they protect from the unknown. Every child needs to feel safe and they need to have a home in which they can feel safe. A home in which they can make mistakes and learn, one in which their feelings are valued, where they are respected and not bullied, where they can be who they are without fear of criticism or laughter.
Consistency - Parents need to be consistent. Consistent in setting boundaries, in consequences, in love. Consistency again allows a child to have predictability. They know when they have overstepped the line and it is not left up to guesswork. The line in the sand does not move every day or every minute. They do not have the power to control their parents or to determine when the punishment will come. They know they are in safe, strong hands, with people who care about them. Remember that consistency is not legalism. If you realise you have made a wrong decision you can change it. You do not have to follow through on a wrong path. Your children will respect you for that and you will be teaching them that mistakes are ok and can be corrected.
We feel safe when we know that someone with love, power and authority is in control. Be that person for your children.