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One dad’s most important parenting lesson



A father of four shares his number one rule

A father of four shares his number one rule


Writing for Fatherly, Swampy Hawkins, an Atlanta father of four, whose kids (from two marriages), range in age from early twenties to infancy, is popular with his children, their friends, and other parents. He has the parenting thing down, apparently. New parents continually ask him, what’s your secret, Swampy

He writes: “My answer is always the same: Be consistent. Consistently loving, consistently patient, consistently fun, consistently firm, consistently respectful, consistently present.  Be consistent with your expectations, your rules, and your praise.”

He has a point, of course. Especially during Covid, when the world seems even more chaotic than usual, providing children with a sense of predictability has never been more important. One year in, mental health professionals now routinely offer advice on how to help your kids through these times, and “be consistent” usually tops their lists.

READ MORE: Create a bedtime routine for your child

Hawkins puts it this way: “Consistency provides a stable framework in your child’s life. It assures them, on the deepest psychological level, that, regardless of the uncertain and unpredictable nature of life, they are safe, they are loved, they matter, and they can depend on you.  Consistently. Nothing throws a kid off their game more than an erratic, inconsistent parent.  It confuses and scares the hell out of them. Kids are little sponges who learn an incredible amount through osmosis, and if what they’re learning from you is all over the place, well, that’s precisely how they’ll behave.”

Hawkins is big on manners, and unfailingly getting his kids to say please and thank you to get what they want. He’s also clued in to something I discovered early on in my own parenting journey: kids may think they’ll be happiest when they’re allowed to act like tyrannical pirates, but they’re not. Even though they’ll initially pout or worse when you put limits on them, they ultimately appreciate what Hawkins refers to as “guard rails, and structure to help them feel secure.”



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