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Posts Tagged ‘boundaries’

One of our granddaughters lives with us, and as of this writing, she is not quite a year old.  She is a precious, beautiful child, who is bold, energetic, and full of curiosity.  Not surprisingly, she wasn’t even ten months old when she started walking, and containing her is a daily challenge.  With the playpen proving to be too restrictive for this 20 lb. force of nature, we fenced in our living room with plastic fencing in order to keep her from the fireplace, the stereo cabinet, bookshelves, electrical outlets… and we constructed a gate, so that us older folks didn’t have to hurdle our way in to, and out of, the living room.  Within this room sized play yard, there are all manner of soft, colorful, musical, and educational things for her to engage with.  Above all else it is intended to be a safe space for her to learn and grow; but from its inception she has made it her mission to escape from it. 

In this endeavor, she has demonstrated amazing resourcefulness, as she’s tried to pull the fence up to crawl underneath it; to slide herself between the seams in the panels, and to push the fence (or gate) down.  When those efforts have failed, she’s pushed her rocking chair, or her wheeled horse to the fence, and tried to use them to climb over it.  Often times, she’ll stand at the gate, and shake it by its bars.  Every time the gate is open, she stops what she’s doing and runs toward it.  Every time the gate closes, she lets out a yelp of protest.  Indeed, the mere existence of this fence seems to be an affront to her soul.  Even without a conscious understanding of it, she instinctively pushes against the concept of limitations or boundaries.

Similarly, while she shows little interest in pacifiers, most teething biscuits, and baby food in general, she will readily stick shoes, used tissues, clumps of dog hair… in her mouth.  Protecting her requires constant vigilance, and quick hands.

As I have prayed for this little one, the Lord has impressed upon me that this is how it is with His children as well.  Like us, He tried to setup a safe and ideal situation for them, but they chose to go their own way.  He then tried to create healthy boundaries to keep them safe, but they perceive that He is trying to keep them from the “good stuff”, and rebel against them.  Indeed, the very idea that He would set limitations causes them to doubt His goodness.  Likewise, He tries to provide them with daily bread (i.e. wisdom and words of life) for growth and well-being, but they readily choose to dumpster dive (i.e. on the empty philosophies of mankind) for their meals instead.

And in all this, I see myself.  Please Lord, not my will, but thine be done!

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  1. Every child is their own story. What works with one doesn’t necessarily work with another.  Different things inspire them, motivate them, scare them, and hurt them.  Though there may be some broad tenets that apply to all, each one requires a unique approach.
  2. Perfection cannot be the goal. No matter how hard we try, we will not be perfect parents; and demanding perfection from our kids simply makes them feel as though nothing they do is ever good enough.
  3. Boundaries are meant to keep kids safe, not to keep them from the “good stuff”. Though, as children, we all tested our limits; as parents, we cannot ignore the benefit of hindsight.
  4. Fear is a lousy teacher.  Consistently playing on a child’s fear ultimately destroys their ability to function effectively.
  5. Our children’s perception of themselves is powerfully impacted by what we say to and about them.  Giving voice to our fears, frustrations and disappointments can scar them for life.
  6. Consistently yelling at kids makes them hard of hearing. For survival sake, they simply begin to tune us out.
  7. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work. We cannot hope to hold our kids to a standard that we ourselves do not adhere to.
  8. Though we naturally want to protect our children, it is also our job to prepare them for life without us. Finding the balance between those two things is a long and demanding process.
  9. No matter how doting, diligent and devoted we are as parents, our kids will face adversity, and they will make mistakes.  We cannot be shocked when it happens, and we need to prepare them for those moments.
  10. Love covers a multitude of sins (yours and theirs). When combined with faith, it forms the only wild card that we have in our parenting deck.

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·       You choose to pick your battles, as opposed to reacting to every little situation.

·       You become less concerned with what is popular, and more concerned about what is right.

·       You recognize that boundaries are meant for protection, and not as a barrier to the good stuff.

·       You become less concerned with quantity, and more concerned with quality.

·       You spend more time focusing on the big picture, and less time worrying about minor issues.

·       You become less concerned with your own well-being, and more concerned with the welfare of others.

·       You stop feeling the need to push your way to the front of every line.

·       You become less impressed by people’s accomplishments, and place a greater value on their character.

·       You find yourself being more driven by what needs to be done than by how you feel about it.

·       You spend more time being grateful for what you have than you spend worrying about what you don’t.

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