Parenting: the power and peril of setting boundaries

As you know, we are a family of three. We did not have a good idea about parenting. I (Dear Mom) thought I will grow an ‘instinct’, a ‘motherly instinct’ to be precise, with the birth of Dear Son. That did happen. Dear Son’s cry would trigger a primitive sense of panic unlike anything else I have ever experienced. Other than that, there was an astounding level of non-instincts.

I gave up

So, I thought I should work on ‘developing’ instinct. I started reading parenting books. I discovered there were different types of parenting. By different I mean many different types, not just 2 or 3 types. I tend to trust everything I read in printed form – a bad idea. Initially I felt lost reading so many different ideas. Each idea was like a voice; it was a cacophony. I gave up. Parenting was not my cup of tea. Dear Son was going to grow up as a modern-day Tarzan. By the way, where is Tarzan? He used to be popular.

Nope, I do not give up that easily

Except that, I don’t easily give up on others. And this is our child. I needed to have some kind of parenting in place. In all the books, there was a common theme – set up clear boundaries. I thought, huh, it’s about time Dear Son gets to know what boundaries mean.

The story of setting boundaries 🙂

Here is the story about setting up boundaries and the lesson I got from this experience. TL;DR: Dear Son taught me a lesson instead of me teaching him a lesson on boundaries. 🙂

Dear Son started scribbling around a year and a half mark. He started scribbling on papers, quickly moving on to furniture and walls. I thought, there needs to be some limit on boundaries, ahem, walls. So, walls were off-limit. Explained real well to Dear Son, that walls were off-limit, no writing on walls. He got the message very well, much too well I am afraid. Never drew a line on walls or anything else for that matter!

Dear Son scribbling happily on the wall.

More than a year goes by. Our walls are sparkly clean. I am happy, seems like Dear Son is happy; I deem the walls were happy too. Then I notice, yes – it takes me a long time to notice the obvious things, he is not scribbling! Genius that I am, I start thinking, why is he not scribbling like a usual 3 year old?

After enough soul-searching (!), I had the light-bulb moment! He loved to scribble, I set the boundary, and he followed. So, after a lot of coaxing, hand-holding, different types of crayons, papers, coloring books, pencils, pens, markers, slats and chalks, and hands on demonstrations of writing, wait for it, on walls, he started scribbling again! Thank god, disaster averted. Well, at least for now!

Lesson learnt

So, my lesson is setting boundaries need to be done carefully. We set strict boundaries on things that can cause physical harm (fire, electricity). We are also strict about respecting people and environment. Other than these, our boundaries are pretty flexible now-a-days. We model the behavior we would like to see and that’s about it.

Now, do we do a good job modeling ideal behavior? That’s another story. I can talk more about that probably after finishing up another episode of The Gilmore Girls on Netflix at 1 AM on a weekday!

Settle in Paso team
Prompts: Wanderlust, Knackered



Comments

18 thoughts on “Parenting: the power and peril of setting boundaries

    1. Aha … that is a good point. I will definitely remember your advice. Thank you for visiting and commenting.
  1. Boundaries and consequences. When my son was in Sr. Kindergarten he just did not want to get dressed on time to get to school. I would help him choose what to wear and then he was supposed to get himself dressed. But often that would not happen then we would be late and running up the road to the school. So one day I just said “I see you have chosen not to get dressed. OK, I’ll just put your clothes into a bag and we can go to school as you are ( in pajamas).” So that is what we did. When we arrived his teacher asked him ” Do you want to stay in your pj’s today or would you like to get dressed?” He chose to get dressed. He was always dressed on time after that. giving the choice did not always work and once given I had to follow through on it but it sure helped when he was older to set boundaries. Parenting is Very Difficult. You are doing a good job!
    1. Thank you for a lovely comment and the anecdote. Goes to show that sometimes we need to let them go through the consequences of their decision. Dear Son is going to elementary later this year. We will see how he copes with the morning rush 🙂
    2. That was clever! I don’t have children, but know plenty of parents so I’m going to pass this along to them.
    3. This was one clever way of dealing with a child. It could be very hard to discipline a child properly especially when most times they could be infuriating, but this is where parents need to be creative in ways of handling these situations or it could be messy.
    1. Agreed. Thank you for sharing the link. I read your post. It is fantastic. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.
  2. I feel boundaries are very important for all ages. Perhaps it gives a sense of security and freedom – thus far and no further. On a different note, while parenting I think I learned more than I taught my son 😀
    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. Yes, boundaries are important for all ages. I just feel that sometimes I might be overdoing it for Dear Son. You have explained it so nicely — it is a learning experience for parents. Have a wonderful weekend!
    1. I definitely feel that patenting a teenage kid will have another level of challenge. I appreciate your visit and comment. Thank you for the Liebster Award nomination! It is an honor. Have a wonderful week ahead.
    2. I can relate to this because even though I am not a parent yet, I acted like one to my younger siblings. I guess this is one reason why children needs to be disciplined well at a young age. It would be much harder to do on those who have already made up their minds about what’s right and wrong for them. While they are young, they need to know that in every action that they make, there are specific consequences.
  3. It is important that as parents, we set boundaries at home for it will not only make the home to be peaceful, it will as well contribute to having a home where everyone has respect for one another. I like as our parents did all they could in ensuring we live a life of understanding that boundaries are good for healthy living.
    1. I agree and I believe most parents do set boundaries at home not only is this beneficial to a growing up kid but also to you. What is more important for me is setting your boundaries and making it flexible at most times. Kids learn quick and they absorb them un noticeably. Being to strict in implementing these boundaries may limit it’s growth and learning so as parents let’s try setting the goal to a much more lenient way.
  4. Setting boundaries and disciplining is no easy task. How a child is disciplines at a young age will great affect what kind of person he will be, and how he will act and think as an adult eventually. He needs to realize that in every thing that he does, there is an equal consequence.
  5. We have a four months old child. It is really hard to set boundaries for your child who does not understand verbal communication. Until the child begins to understand words, you are parents have to set your own boundaries. We don’t use disposable diapers (we try to live frugal), therefore we use cloth diapers. When you ar eusing cloth diapers, there will be leakage problem. Since there is a leakage problem, you will have to set boundaries about where you place your baby. This is just one example.
  6. Thanks for this article. My 2 year old daughter is starting to write on walls and in everything she can use. I agree that boundaries is important for a growing kid to learn but sometimes we have to be flexible to understand what the kid is going through. Certain limitations may apply in certain situations but not as strict as it can be. My daughter writes on almost anything she can use that includes walls. But I manage to remind her to avoid writing in as much as possible. She still writes on our walls but very limited already after talking to her. The very point in here is that we can always set our rules and boundaries but it has to be flexible in dealing with growing kids.

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