I could see the discomfort in his eyes. My little boy had taken his baby girl’s hand and was trying to lead her across the room to show her a toy. One look at the papa, told me it was time to have a big discussion with my little man. It was time to talk about personal boundaries.
I’m not sure how most boys approach the subject of personal boundaries, seeing as I only have one, but my little guy is extremely affectionate towards his sisters and both of us parents. He is free to hug us, sit on our laps, and express his affection. When it comes to friends, once he warms up to you, he willingly asks to hold your hand while walking in busy crowds or wants to know if you’ll go on that ride at Disney with him.
I’ve recently begun to notice that our son is particularly tender-hearted toward children younger than himself; especially young girls. He wants to walk them to where ever they need to go. He wants to open their door; help them with their chairs; and more. While this might seem sweet to some, I’m afraid it’s also going to become an uncomfortable habit for other parents to witness. (As was the case with my friend’s husband.)
Little man and I needed to have a talk about personal boundaries. We’d already discussed proper ways to get someone’s attention, by gently touching their arm or waiting patiently for someone to acknowledge him. Now we talked about not holding hands with young ladies; ladies who aren’t his sisters, that is.
While I appreciate my son’s desire to be helpful and sensitive towards those younger than himself, he needs to learn when and how to do so. When it comes to young ladies, it might be best to let their parents handle things or, at the very least, keep a significant distance between himself and the young girl.
This is a hard lesson for a young child to learn, especially for the baby of the family, I would venture to guess. They are so used to holding someone’s hand, they assume all those younger than themselves must do the same. I would imagine it is also confusing for them to know who they can be affectionate with. Some of our personal friends have no problem with our children holding hands, especially as our son tends to be the youngest in the crowd. On homeschool outings, the older boys are encouraged to hold hands with the little fellas and the girls are always doing so with each other without having to be asked. As Christians, our children are frequently greeting their friends with hugs and doing so again when they depart.
At some point though, it was inevitable. My little guy is getting bigger and those lines in the sand need to be drawn. My babies are growing up! (sigh)
Where do you draw the line when it comes to personal boundaries with your children?