Imagine that you are driving down the highway. The car you are following begins to weave in and out of traffic, changing lanes every few seconds. You tense up and brace for whatever might happen as the driver slows down and then speeds up, driving erratically and impulsively.
The feelings that we experience driving behind someone like this is similar to how a child feels when their parent consistently changes their mind, their decisions, their reactions to the same situation and their parenting approaches. This instability creates a strong feeling of insecurity, uneasiness and anxiety. In some cases, it creates intense anger.
Inconsistency in parenting leaves children without a solid foundation to support them. They never know which way an event will be experienced or reacted to. This is actually one of the most difficult situations we can place a child in, almost worse than a consistently poor approach to parenting. The consistently poor approach at least provides a certain level of constancy.
We need to pick a lane and stay in it. We might encounter bumps in the road as well as twists and turns. This does not mean we have to adhere to parenting methods that we explore thoroughly and find flaws in. After consulting with others we respect and doing our due diligence, if we find that an approach does not work, we can change our mind. We have every right to say, "We tried this approach and after giving it some thought, we are doing things another way." We can also apologize when we make mistakes and missteps. However, erratically changing the way we parent on a regular basis, without solid thought and planning, creates an intense feeling of anxiety in our child caused by the person they need to be able to count on the most.