We want our kids to have a good life. As parents, we are always hoping and planning and prepping them in our instruction for a very good life – a life of success. A life of happiness. So why are so many people unhappy with their life when they grow older? What happens that makes someone with a good childhood discontent with their life after they grow up?
I think one of the main reasons could be whether or not we teach our children boundaries.
An easy example of a good boundary lesson is to simply listen to your child when they tell you “Stop” or “No.” I’m always kind of surprised to see parents not listen when their child asks them to stop tickling or wrestling, or to put them down & the parent stubbornly resists. From psychology stand point, that parent is teaching their child that they don’t have the right to tell someone to stop doing something to them that they don’t like. Indeed, sexual molestation is the ultimate abolishment of a child’s sense of their own boundaries, of course not listening to their “No” or “Stop” during tickling isn’t as severe, but it is the same concept of respecting a child’s boundaries. Of teaching them that they can have boundaries.
Many times kids grow up with a sense of over-responsibility… in some way, they feel responsible for the parent and their feelings. This usually happens when a parent confides too much information to their children. They treat their child like a little adult, which can be good in some ways, but when constantly pressured to think and talk to them like an adult friend, this makes a child less attune to their own needs and desires. It makes them too “others-centered,” to the point that they go through life as an adult neglecting themselves… usually for the sake of others.
I’ve seen these kinds of things play out for people, and having really great parents who were sensitive and always into psychology and learning, I want you as a reader to know that these things are relatively easily avoidable if you have the right knowledge and mindset.
God never promised us a perfect life – but even through all the imperfections, I feel like we should be happy – we should have a deep, untouchable joy. A serious part of that joy and happiness that no one really talks about, is knowing how to take care of ourselves well.
So take care of yourself. Know your limits and embrace them with grace. Be kind to yourself… pay attention to your own feelings if you haven’t been. And then turn around, and listen to your kids and their feelings. Let them be real with you – angry, sad, or depressed – let them feel things without judgment so that they learn that to feel an emotion is ok. Feeling guilty for an emotion is ridiculous.
Give them the gift of boundaries… it’s one of the most beautiful things in life.
(Thoughts inspired from the book, Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend)