Setting loving boundaries is one challenge that many intentional parents face. We may battle to find—and enforce—the right constraints that will guide, support, and safeguard our children without hindering their potential.
If we don’t set clear limits, our children end up moving through their younger years aimlessly, with little or no framework on which to build. They may feel unsafe, insecure, alone and overwhelmed.
Yet, when we set rigid expectations with little wiggle room, we restrict growth and can cause our children to feel dependent on us to be their guidance system—both inner and outer. They can feel stifled and develop low self-worth, feeling that we don’t trust they have what it takes to navigate the world.
By genuinely connecting with our child, we know them and can determine exactly what boundaries and limitations will help them to feel safe and still allow infinite potential for social, emotional, physical, cognitive and spiritual development.
Here’s a visual for those of you who learn this way…
If we place a marble on a plate (tons of freedom) and carry it with us, trying to move through the day without dropping the marble, it will be difficult because the plate doesn’t have any barriers. We will have to remain in high alert and make a great number of little adjustments moment by moment to ensure the marble doesn’t fall. As keeping things steady in this situation creates a lot of work, stress will arise. Any disruption could easily take us off balance. And when that happens, the marble will fall.
If we put the marble in a pot with a solid lid (restriction), we can make sure that the marble is unharmed, but we cannot see it or do any guiding. It’s difficult to check on the marble while it is covered and there is very limited potential for it to go anywhere other than the bottom of the pot.
By placing the marble in a bowl (easy, curved edges), we can see it and know it is safe, yet leave it free to move about and explore. We can keep an eye on it while knowing the sides of the bowl help to support but not confine the marble.
Tying our metaphorical example together, you, as the parent, design the bowl (the loving boundaries) that gently “holds” your child (the marble, of course) while leaving room for infinite possibility. Being solid in who you are—the creator and shaper of the bowl—allows you to lovingly discern what works best for your child and your family. With compassion and clarity, you will take into consideration environmental influences and specific needs of your child and form the kind of bowl that fosters confidence, emotional and cognitive intelligence and creativity.
What more could we ask for?
Don’t forget about the upcoming Parenting with Peace workshop on Thursday!