Kids & Boundaries

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)

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Kids Chaos & Mistakes

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I think having a child is one of the hardest things in life – knowing how to raise them, deal, in a good way, with their sometimes difficult behavior, and maintain a good relationship with them through to adulthood, sometimes seems impossible when you’re in the thick of it with toddlers or even pre-teens/teenagers.  Being a parent is hard, I was reminded of this fact these last few days – maybe the weather change, or maybe the excitement from knowing Christmas is closing in, had my 3-year-old upping his tantrum-mania anytime we went out.

Obviously, it’s best to stay calm in any situation, but it’s understandable when it’s been their 5th tantrum of the day, or when they try to hit you with their little plastic golf club, that you can make the mistake of losing it & screaming at them.  For me, I truly have to remind myself to stay calm, have clear expectations beforehand, and carry-out the discipline already decided in the calmest manner I can conjure.  This of course, doesn’t always happen, but it is our go-to for dealing with the normal tantrums & chaos that children are known to do.  I try to keep in mind the kind of man I’m raising, the character I want him to have.  Feeling like his success wholly depends on you, however, can also put too much pressure on your parenting needing to be “perfect,” leading you to feel massive amounts of anxiety that you’re failing your children, when in reality, they are just kids who sometimes behave difficult.

 If you do make a mistake, punish the wrong child for something they didn’t do, overreact and lose your temper, you need to admit your mistake to your child/children.  They will love you so much more knowing that you have the character to be able to do this.

I love Elaine St. James’ words on this topic,

Children need to see that it’s natural to make mistakes from time to time.  The last thing you want is a child who is unable to own up to the fact that she was wrong.  If you’re trying to teach your kids to be open-minded and responsible for their actions, you must demonstrate this behavior yourself.  How better to learn than from a parent?

Some parents believe their authority will be undermined or that it’s a sign of weakness if they allow themselves to be swayed or to admit they’ve been wrong.  With others it’s often a false notion of how a parent should behave, or simply bad judgement. Whatever the cause, you’re doing a disservice to our children by taking this position.