Monday, August 17, 2015

The Importance of Boundaries

I think we all have heard the importance of boundaries in raising kids.  As my friend Marilyn Sharpe explains, "No one is born knowing appropriate boundaries or limits. As parents, we need to give kids age-appropriate limits to keep them safe, to keep them moral, to teach both respect and self-respect, to help them become the person others will love and respect, and to give them a future with hope!  This is a child of God you are raising."

I've already been reminded many times in my life as a parent how important boundaries are.  It makes such a difference when our kids know what it expected and what will happen if they do not follow the ground rules we have put in place.  But as I've been thinking about boundaries lately, I've also been reminded how important they are in our adult lives as well, and the way I see it, there are two ways the need for boundaries plays out the most.

Because there are so many good things any one of us could be involved with in a typical day or month, I've learned how important it is for me to guard my time a bit more lately.  After all, I only get one chance to raise my kids and to be present with them in this time of their lives.  And as someone I read put it, "Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else."  So I need to make sure that my 'yes' is worth the less.

I am also trying to get better at not scheduling my days to the max.  For quite some time, it's like when I have looked at my calendar, if I didn't have something scheduled during a particular slot, I looked at it as though that time was available to be scheduled.

But that has led to many days of feeling rushed and stressed, getting from one thing to another.  Which isn't so great for actually feeling present and attentive in the moment.  So I am trying to be more intentional about leaving more "white space" in my calendar.  Time to reflect, to not have an agenda.  Time for creative brainstorming, organic conversations and memory-making moments to happen.

Another area in which I've learned boundaries are important as adults is related to some advice a friend of mine once told me she had received from her mom.  As a young adult, her mom taught her that "You have to teach other people how they can treat you."

I think this is so wise, especially I want my kids to grow up knowing that it is not okay for someone else to treat them in a way that is disrespectful, hurtful, or just plain mean.  So I not only have to teach them how to stand up for themselves and be confident in who they are, I have to model this for them as well.

There's another dimension in which the need to teach others how they can treat you plays out too.  For instance, if I always bend over backward to accommodate another's request, to be available when they want me to be, or if I pick up the slack whenever something is left hanging by someone else, then I'm teaching them that I will drop everything to meet their need and that I will always be there to clean up their mess.  And that's not the message I want to send.

In a way, this relates back to the need for boundaries in regards to my time.  And just like how it's not always easy to hold firm to the boundaries we put in place for our kids, it's not always easy to stay true to the boundaries we put in place in our adult lives either.  But I think it's important that we keep trying our best, with the goal of putting the boundaries in place that will help us, and our kids, be our best selves.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogging tips