Did you know a rule, an expectation, and/or a boundary creates an environment for individuals to be secure in reaching their utmost potential? Many of you may have answered that question with a resounding “Of course I knew that!”. However, let’s think about this a bit. Our culture and society consistently promotes the “Rebel without a cause” mindset. We are deceived and taught by various advertisers, TV shows, movies, and music that the definition of freedom is having no rules. The deception, and trap, is actually believing a so called ”Unrestricted” life is the only way to achieve peace, joy, and success. This could be further from the truth! On the contrary having no rules, expectations, and/or accountability only promotes confusion and instability. Insecurity will often set in with an individual who has no authority figure providing direction in their life. I don’t want to digress too far, but this ultimately leads an individual to be a “loner” because they are unable to or choose not to closely relate to anyone out of fear of being controlled by that person.
Let’s look at an example of an employer/employee relationship. If an employer rarely meets with his employee…does not conduct performance reviews…does not set goals…does not discuss expectations of the job…the employee will not perform at their highest potential. Although the employee seems to have tremendous amount of freedom, that employee is usually less productive than their peers. They cannot lead because they are not being led. They will grow more and more insecure over time and their motivation will start to suffer which will eventually lead to them quitting their job or getting fired. Unfortunately, this example is played out all too often.
You may be asking “What does this have to do with parenting?” Parenting children passively without engaging to establish expectations, boundaries, and accountability produces disastrous results. Like the misguided employee, your child will eventually grow more and more insecure. Their motivation to make correct decisions will start suffering, which will direct them to a rebellious behavior. They will start justifying their rebellious actions by thinking if no one else cares why should I?
Here are three important areas to consider when setting clear boundaries for your children.
Do not be a passive parent:
Believe or not, children do not want a passive parent. You may strive to become their friend more than their parent? If so, this will only diminish your respect and authority. Part of your role as a parent is to establish structure and engage authoritatively. Being passive will equate in your child’s mind as “I’m not important enough”. Parenting passively will create an unhealthy need for attention which is often a negative behavior. Do not be a passive parent.
The 3D’s on setting clear boundaries. Decide, Define, and Discuss.
Decide: If you are familiar with this blog, you’ll know both you and your spouse must strive to agree on all aspects of parenting your children. Once you have decided and agreed on what the expectations/boundaries are for your children, then you will next need to define the boundaries. Side note: we renamed them in our family to “love boundaries”.
Define what the love boundaries look like. How wide…how narrow…how restrictive…what are the consequences, etc.
Discuss with your children what you have decided and defined so they clearly understand what is expected. They need to also know the “why” for all love boundaries. Do not forget to also discuss accountability and what the consequences are if the love boundaries are broken. Using real world examples of individuals that broke rules and the consequences they experienced is a good tool for reinforcing the reason to have love boundaries in the first place. Unfortunately, the news gives us plenty of examples.
Be consistent with accountability and consequence:
Again, people function better in life with boundaries. Because of your children’s inexperience and questionable influences from many sources, they will not understand the benefits of having love boundaries. It’s up to you to educate and model the benefits. Will your children test those boundaries? Of course they will. You’ll hear phrases like…”You never let me do anything”…”Everyone else can fill in the blank”…”I want more freedom”. Does that mean you are failing as a parent? Of course not! Children must be held accountable to the expectations & boundaries set. As a parent, you must consistently enforce the consequence. This is the area where passive parents fail causing everything done to this point to be meaningless. By following the 3D’s(decide, define, and discuss), you will have established yourself the authoritative right to enforce the consequence. Your children will understand they chose the consequence because of the poor decision made.
I hope you now have an understanding in this brief blog entry on how setting clear boundaries provides security and confidence in your children. Using the 3D’s of communication and being consistent on accountability will establish a pattern for your children to reach their utmost potential.