Boundaries. This has come up a lot recently in my work with families and in my own lately if I’m being honest (I’m looking at you, Baby J). And rightfully so. They can be awfully tricky. Kids resist them. Parents struggle to implement them, and so a cycle of uncertainty ensues resulting in a whole lot of going nowhere.
I often find myself reassuring parents that children need boundaries. In fact, they want them. Boundaries to a child mean security. Boundaries to a child mean reassurance. Boundaries to a child = love. They are the secret to a well-adjusted child. They are the answer to many behavioral challenges. They are also the backbone of a confident and effective parent.
I have a friend who is a boundary wizard. I know she has spent years working hard to create effective boundaries, but to the average eye it seems effortless. She is unequivocally unapologetic about her boundaries, both those she implements for herself and for her children. I am inspired by her confidence and in awe of her no nonsense approach to doing what works for her and her family. She manages to do this with grace and humility and an absolute absence of judgement for others who might approach things differently. It’s not about them. It’s about her world and what she needs in order for it to revolve successfully.
The result of this is a confident and peaceful parent, a centered parent, and the mirror image of that in the child. When we consistently implement strong boundaries, whether that looks like limiting screen time or expecting lunch to be packed each night, our children are reminded that we love them enough to be in control, to stay in control. It’s a sense of control that they seek but don’t really want. That’s on us. We are the ones who have been called to be in charge. It’s our job. It’s our responsibility. It’s our privilege.
It’s hard to draw the line, but our children are looking to us to do it. So many good things come from good boundaries. And who ever said parenting would be easy?!
Find the joy,
Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.