Love Set's Limits
I have to admit that when I first started in the social work field, I would occasionally visit Wal Mart to gather illustrations on parenting. The people were always there and the demonstrations never disappointed. Before you call me creepy, recognize that you do this too. You’ve enjoyed people-watching and likely have viewed “People of Wal Mart” pictures on Facebook. I simply scheduled it. All kidding aside, I learned an awful lot from watching parents and kids interact. Most of all it helped me remove myself from a situation and ask, “How would I handle this?”
The most common thing that I saw was the lack of healthy boundaries between parent and child. Often, the parents demanded that their children listen and behave in the store, however the children had not been trained to do this. Instead, they were being conditioned to do the opposite. When you watch other people interact with their children, it offers a rare “birds-eye view” that you never see in your own parenting. That’s why it’s so helpful to have relationships with other parents and youth professionals that can speak into your life as a parent.
Kids speak with their behavior more than their words. Part of their development includes testing boundaries in every stage, especially in the toddler and teenage years. How you respond to these tests greatly determines if your child will succeed in life. It’s not a simple pass/fail kind of test but it’s easy to fail completely.
Parents often confide in me that they feel guilty when the discipline their kids. It hurts their heart to have to tell their child “no” and that they often feel that they are letting the child down. Allow me to share a different perspective…
All healthy relationships have boundaries. Simply put, we all need limits to thrive. We need to know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, and where the line is, as far as what’s appropriate in many different situations. Don’t feel guilty when you set limits and discipline your child. You only do that because you love them. It’s one of the biggest ways that parents show love and invest in their child’s future. The next time a bit of guilt creeps in, remind yourself that (as long as you’re disciplining in a loving way) you are making an investment in your child’s future and increasing their chances of success.