My husband, Michael, had just finished his day’s painting at a very stately older home when I’d come to pick him up with our 3 young daughters in tow. As the homeowner showed us around Michael impressed upon the girls they must not touch ANYTHING he’d just painted. Just after he had said this Marisa, our then two-year old, put her index finger within millimeters of a freshly painted doorframe and asked, “Daddy, can I get THIS close?” We still chuckle about this today (even though Marisa is now 21) because it spoke volumes about her desire to know her limits.
How many times do our children ask us that same question every day, “Mommy, can I get this close?” They may not verbalize it, but their actions reveal a desire to know what their boundaries are. It’s part of what makes parenting so wearisome. And it’s not just during the toddler years they’re asking this; it continues throughout adolescence.
When children ask that question, what they’re really asking is whether or not we care to tell them “no”. It provides security when we set boundaries for our children, so while it can be extremely taxing, it provides a concrete way to demonstrate our love for our children. It also provides them with freedom as they know where their boundaries lie. They needn’t fear getting in trouble for something they were not warned about.
God set the example for us by giving boundaries in our walk with Him. Because He made us, He knows how we can live life to the fullest. The boundaries He sets, while at times appearing burdensome, are His loving way of helping us find contentment in life. Bending to His will is not always easy, but the fruit is always sweet.
We must be on our guard continually to help our children desire to live within boundaries. Here a few things to think about as you take on this task:
- Decide with your spouse the limits you want to set for your children with regards to behavior, standards for television programs and movies, video and computer usage, friends, attitudes, dress, etc.
- Always use the Bible as your standard when setting boundaries.
- The boundaries you set provide protection for your children. If you don’t begin setting limits in the younger years; you will have a difficult, if not impossible, time reining them in during their teen years.
- Boundaries help children know what we expect from them and they help them develop self-discipline. As they learn to live within boundaries, it will help them become sought-after employees and spouses who willingly submit to God’s design for marriage.
- Pray. God has given you these precious children to mold into the image of His Son and He will give you the strength and wisdom you need as you ask Him.
It’s important to remember that true freedom comes from living within boundaries.
This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. I Jn 5:3