Imagine this scenario: It’s your child’s job to clean up their room, but hours have gone by and they still haven’t gotten the job done, despite repeated reminders from you.
How should you respond?
Lecture them? Ground them? Clean up the room yourself?
The answer is to let good boundaries be your guide. One of the most important functions of parenting is to teach your children how to respect appropriate limits.
Setting healthy boundaries has a lot of benefits, and primary among them is helping children to develop self-control. Children are born with no boundaries. They’re impulsive and want everything right now. They don’t naturally have the ability to be patient and to exercise delayed gratification.
Boundaries provide kids with external structure to help them control their behavior until they learn to internalize that structure and control themselves. The key to effective boundaries is relationship.
Your bond with your child is a conduit, the piping through which good values and a love for truth are transmitted. Without connection, rules may be obeyed outwardly, but your child won’t internalize them.
On our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Setting Healthy Boundaries with Your Kids,” we’re returning to a great conversation we recorded a few years ago with Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Their integration of Bible- and psychology-based wisdom is practical, relatable, and timeless.
When interacting with their kids, every parent should ask, “Is what I’m doing helping or rescuing?” When a child is truly stuck and facing a situation that’s beyond their abilities, coming alongside them is good. But when your child hasn’t asked for help or isn’t even trying to achieve something on their own, and you swoop in, you’re rescuing them. You’ll raise children who never grow up and learn to handle difficult situations on their own.
Today it’s cleaning their room. Tomorrow it may be sex or an offer for drugs and alcohol. Boundaries are not about controlling your kids. They’re about teaching your children to be in control of themselves.
Tune into our program for some practical help with how to do that. You may also be interested in Drs. Cloud and Townsend’s bookBoundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children. Consider becoming a special partner with us through our monthly “Friends of Focus on the Family”program, and I’ll send you a copy as a way of saying thank you for touching others with the love of Christ. To make your pledge, or for more information, visit our websiteor call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).