Sunday, March 2, 2014

Children and Boundaries

A missionary who has taught me so much about God and life over the years, Brad Thurston from Globe International posted this quote:  

                        "There is a need for rules, policies, order, governance and laws 
                          in our families, communities, and nations. But the goal of (such 
                          commands ought to be) love, which comes from a pure heart 
                          and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

Today there is a book, article or expert for every perfect parenting style known {and unknown} to man. Each one promises a successful, well-behaved child sure to change the world by their mere existence.  This can become overwhelming to anyone, but for the new, well-meaning parent the stress and pressure of following all these rules can actually take away from the true needs of a child.  If the focus is only on following a manuscript for perfect parenting, the actual needs and desires of the child may be overlooked.

Children are clear in their needs.  While there are many specific needs, I believe their are four general areas to consider:  nourishment, love, boundaries and play.  When these needs are met, children are able to develop, learn and safely explore their world to grow into contributing, successful adults.  It is easy to consider three of the four areas as essential and even obvious; however, when boundary setting comes up, people are often torn.  There is a wide spectrum of beliefs and opinions surrounding boundaries, but what we know from children in their play is that boundaries allow them to feel safe and that, even if none are given to them, children will attempt to create their own boundaries in an effort to gain some control in their world.

Boundaries, created in love, are healthy for adults and children alike.  When healthy boundaries are set, individuals know limits and what to expect out of each relationship.  It is important for parents to determine the rules and boundaries for their family and be consistent in order for children to learn family and societal norms and to experience reliable, healthy relationships with adults.  

As an expectant mom, my husband and I have taken a lot of time to discuss our family of origin.  We want to recreate certain dynamics and other areas we want to steer away from in hopes of creating a family we believe in.  I do not plan on being perfect or having a set plan from day one, but I do plan on loving my children enough to give them rules and boundaries in hopes of creating a relationship of trust, safety and consistency.

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