Boundaries vs. Individuality: Is There a Conflict?

“If your boundary training consists only of words, you are wasting your breath. But if you ‘do’ boundaries with your kids, they internalize the experiences, remember them, digest them, and make them part of how they see reality.”

~ Henry Cloud

Boundaries vs. IndividualityShe was frustrated, it was written all over face. She wasn’t asking for the moon, merely an opportunity to make her own decision. My daughter had thought this through, felt she was able to accomplish the task, and only wanted the freedom to move forward. It was time to ask myself an important question: Was she crossing a boundary here or just expressing her individuality?

It seems obvious, before we can determine whether our children have actually stepped out-of-bounds, we need to determine exactly what those boundaries are. Some of our boundaries might include:

  • You shall have no other gods before Me (the Lord).
  • You shall not make idols.
  • You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  • Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  • Honor your father and your mother.
  • You shall not murder.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • You shall not covet.

While this list could go on, by now it should be pretty obvious where we’re going with this. We are to follow God’s commands, live righteously, and love our fellow-man.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 

– Micah 6:8

What about those choices we make for our household, the ones that aren’t ‘officially’ spoken of in the Bible; things like tattoos, staying out late with friends, dating, and more? Do these fall under the heading of boundaries or individuality? In response, I would ask my child to look at commandment (boundary) number five above: Honor your father and mother.

As parents, we aren’t making decisions willy-nilly; we’ve made them through careful consideration and hours of prayer. Our children are commanded – and expected – to obey these boundaries, understanding our choices are made with their best interest at heart. Each family needs to be on their knees in prayer, asking the Lord to give their family wisdom in making these choices.

What about things that aren’t technically forbidden, however for any number of reasons, should be considered carefully? As Paul noted in 1 Cor. 10:23:

“All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.”

In a nutshell, Paul was writing this to the Corinthians to advise them not to use their liberty in a way which might stumble new believers. There might be things which are not necessarily wrong, but would give a bad witness. Where do we draw the line? Unfortunately, there is no black and white – one size fits all – answer. This is where wisdom comes into play. We need to be encouraging our children to seek the Lord in all things and prayerfully allow us to advise them in such choices.

Does this mean our children are never free to express themselves and make individual decisions? Of course not! There are many areas in which our children have liberty. As parents, our main concern is the training of the heart and discipleship. When our children wish to express themselves in various ways, this is a perfect opportunity to lead through questions. We ask them to consider what God wants of them, whether He is in this decision, and if He is glorified through their actions. We pray together, and allow God to lead.

What we ought to be asking ourselves is this: Where is my child’s heart? Is this an act of rebellion or just a fun idea that’s been rattling around in their brain, waiting for an opportunity to be acted upon? If my baby’s heart is right with God, and they’ve sought the Lord in their decision, what is the harm in letting them try something new? There is no danger to their soul; no physical harm involved. My child is merely asking to try something and venture into the unknown.

What about all those nay-sayers who might think something’s just a little off in your household, especially when they see the purple hair your child is sporting this week? Well, does their judgement say more about your child or about themselves? Remember the old saying, “Never judge a book by it’s cover.” My child’s hair may be purple, but the soul underneath would die doing the work of God, and, after all, that’s what it’s all about.

Time to Chime In! : How do your children express their individuality?

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April Parenting Weekends: Mom, Your Rules Are Unfair

april parentingJoin us in sharing April Parenting Weekends! Come read, be encouraged, and share your thoughts relating to all things parent. Today’s topic: Mom, Your Rules Are Unfair

Being a Mom sometimes feels like being a Drill Sargent. There are those days where I have to remind myself that I’m the parent and not their friend.

They may think that my rules are one-sided, but their attitudes are lopsided.

I will not argue with my six and five year old. It would be so much easier to give into their demands. But they need to know that rules are non-negotiable.

I fear that my kids will go astray if I don’t teach them in the way they should go. I believe a home needs boundaries and a firm foundation to stand on.

Our solid rock that we live on is the Holy Bible. SONY DSC

I will do whatever it takes to protect them from the snares of this world. Our world is filled with traps just waiting for my loved ones to fall in. They will literally be devoured if they don’t know what to watch out for or how to act in defense.

I want my children to learn to fight for themselves, but first they must see that they are worth fighting for. Boundaries keep children safe. When children feel safe they feel valued and cared for.

Continue to read at Community Moms.

Parenting can be a bit rough at times. With a little encouragement, we can all become better parents to the glory of God!

 

April Parenting Weekends: More… Boundaries

april parentingJoin us in sharing April Parenting Weekends! Come read, be encouraged, and share your thoughts relating to all things parent. Today’s topic: Boundaries, by Beth Biggers

My son has a milk moustache. It mixes with the peanut butter and jelly already mucking up his lips, his cheeks. He is out of his chair – dancing.

“How does my skeleton make me move, mommy?”

He sings a made up silly tune as he dances, whirling around, experimenting with all the angles his body can make. He knows he is not supposed to be out of his chair until he is excused from the table.

I let him dance.

I answer his questions.

I remind him, gently, to sit down and finish his lunch.

He obeys with a full smile, milk moustache in all its glory, nourishing the skeleton that makes him move.

His skeleton does make him move, or rather, it allows him to move. It gives his body form and substance, makes his movements meaningful and deliberate. It allows him to walk and dance and run. It will enable him to do hard work and to hold his wife. This structure which houses his organs, his heart, his soul, is rigid. But within that rigidity, because of that structure, my boy has complete freedom of movement. 

beth-biggers-2

It is helpful when enforcing boundaries with my children to remind myself that it is not my duty to raise children, it is my duty to raise adults. Right now they ask endless questions and poop their pants with virtually zero social consequences. One day, a day too swiftly approaching, that will change. I do not want to raise men who are a thorn in the flesh of society. I do not want to raise men who grieve the Holy Spirit. I want to raise strong, confident, godly, gentle, responsible men who love Jesus and love their people well. But I want to raise my men. I want them to be selfless, but to be wholly themselves.

Continue to read at Community Moms.

Parenting can be a bit rough at times. With a little encouragement, we can all become better parents to the glory of God!

April Parenting Weekends – Tight, But Not Crushed

Join us in sharing April Parenting Weekends! Come read, be encouraged, and share yourapril parenting thoughts relating to all things parent. Today’s topic: Tight, But Not Crushed

Today, Tanya, from God’s Character, will be talking about setting boundaries.  To read more posts from Tanya you can go to God’s Character.

I remember seeing a photo some time ago of a person in an area with a fence going all around it. The person in the fenced area did not want to be there because he thought that he was being restricted and caged in. So over the fence he jumped, only to realize that he was on a plateau.

For our family, setting boundaries is not about restraint. Setting boundaries is about protection, much like in the analogy of the fenced plateau.

When I was younger, I remember that we had chickens at some point. My earliest memory of holding a chicken was how I could feel all the bones and I was so scared to hold it too tight that I might break it’s bones. And so I did not hold it tight enough and it got away. Parenting sometime can be a lot like holding a chicken. You don’t want to hurt your children so you try not to squeeze them too hard. Yet you don’t want to be too lax and let them get away and get out of control.   

Continue to read at God’s Character.

Parenting can be a bit rough at times. With a little encouragement, we can all become better parents to the glory of God!

April Parenting Weekends – Boundaries

april parentingJoin us in sharing April Parenting Weekends! Come read, be encouraged, and share your thoughts relating to all things parent. Today’s topic: Boundaries, Set Ones That Work For Your Family

Today’s parenting post is by Grace.  Grace is a wife, homeschooling mom, doula, pastor’s kid, and writer. She currently resides in southern Oregon with her husband and three gorgeous children, where they enjoy walks in the woods, wading in the river, reading good books, and attending a diverse and compassionate church. You can find Grace over at My Divine Blessings where she blogs about special needs, family, pregnancy, Christianity and many other things.

After three children, it’s become quite apparent to me that every child has their own unique personality. One would think that this fact would be obvious, but for some reason our society’s books on parenting seem to think that all children will respond to one particular method or technique. Within these various methods, whether they work for most kids, or only work temporarily for some kids, or don’t work for any kids in the long run and ought to be done away with altogether, there is some commonality, which is that there are all ways of setting boundaries: “You may do X, but not Y”; “This behavior is not acceptable, but that one is”; “Such actions are not acceptable, but these other actions are to be praised”. 

April Guest Post

Boundaries are what teach our children how to behave in modern society without any resemblance to the “society” in Lord of the Flies. Teaching manners, kindness, and compassion are all vitally important for us to live together in this world. Yet how to teach those things is a mystery to many parents, especially with so many different “experts” claiming their method as THE method to use.

What I support in my doula and parent educator work is for parents to make informed decisions. Every parent has the right to choose one method or another (provided it is not abusive to the child), but they ought to make decisions after exploring different options and being truly informed. It’s important that as we set boundaries and teach our children how to behave, that we do so in a way that works for them, and that you, the parent, can get behind and support fully. It’s not only your child’s individuality and personality to consider, but also your own. So here I will present a few ways to sift through the various methods and figure out which one will work for both you and your child.

Continue to read at God’s Character.

Parenting can be a bit rough at times. With a little encouragement, we can all become better parents to the glory of God!