I have learned to enjoy exploring and experiencing new places.  I believe that I have visited 36 of the 50 states, and I have traveled to three other countries.  Honolulu, Hawaii is probably the place I’ve visited that is furthest from my home.  However, my two trips to France are probably where I felt the furthest from home.  And if you’ve been reading here for a few months, you know I’m planning to go to Guatemala this summer.  When you’re not familiar with the location, the language, the currency, and the culture, it can feel like you’ve traveled to another planet.

The higher speed and relatively lower cost of travel have made it easier to travel away from the boundaries of our home town.

As parents, our responsibility is it to set up appropriate boundaries for our children.  Just like a goldfish needs the boundaries of the fishbowl to keep the alive and safe, our kids need boundaries.  These boundaries are meant to keep our kids safe, to protect property, to prevent psychological damage, and to promote respect for others.  Boundaries provide children with a secure framework in which they can grow.  As our kids get older, we allow these boundaries to expand.  Hopefully, by the time we release our children from our care, they will be better prepared to set up their own boundaries.

Many parents do not want to say no to their kids, but kids are not designed to run around without boundaries.  The novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding provides a glimpse into what might happen with our kids if they were left without clear limits.  In this book, several 6 to 12 year olds turn to barbarism when they are stranded without adult supervision on a deserted island.  While this is just a story, it does remind us that we have an important role in our kids’ lives.  We are responsible for setting boundaries for our kids that will keep them safe and will help them grow into responsible adults.

Different boundaries are required based on the age and development of your child.  When children are toddlers, you may need to set boundaries so they don’t wander into the street or down the stairs.  As they approach preschool and elementary school, kids need to know who they should and shouldn’t talk to – “Don’t talk to strangers.”  As they continue to get older they will need monitoring related to their computer/internet use and their television/movie viewing.  There are many different types of boundaries to consider.

Setting limits is another way to look at setting boundaries.  Limits are not a negative thing.  For example, I need to set limits on the amount of food that I consume.  I like ice cream, but if I eat too much ice cream, my cholesterol will get even higher, my weight will increase, and my overall all health will deteriorate.  At our home, we do this by setting time limits for the television, for the computer, and for video games.  Setting these limits communicates to our children what is okay and what is not okay.  When we’re clear with our limits and when we follow through with our limits, our kids learn what to expect.  When we don’t set limits or when we don’t follow through on our limits, our kids can easily become confused by the lack of a consistent message.

Boundaries are a good thing.

What do boundaries look like at your house?  Or what did boundaries look like for you when you were growing up?  Do you agree that boundaries are important?  Why or why not?  Where else do you need boundaries in your life?