Boundaries: One Size Does Not Fit All

Anyone with more than one child knows all too well that one size does not fit all in parenting. Children are as unique as snowflakes; no two are exactly the same. Even with twins, there is always something different.

Have you ever wondered (and maybe judged) why another family would not have a certain boundary that you value? It may be cleaning rooms, chores, making lunches for school, homework at a certain time, bedtimes, laundry, curfews, etc. The list is endless. We tend to judge other parents for not having the same boundaries we have.

Consider this: What other battles/boundaries are they already fighting? Could they be more important than the one you are thinking of, maybe even life threatening? How many hours are they working each day to make ends meet? Are they parenting alone? Are they possibly facing health issues or financial challenges you are not aware of? There are so many variables to consider. As I’ve shared in past articles, parents need to be building each other up.

Each family needs to choose the boundaries they are able and willing to hold their ground on. They need to choose boundaries that make the MOST impact at any given time for their family. No parent can stand on every hill at one time and expect to win the war; it’s not possible. And your kids will resent you.

You may wonder, “But how do I not give away my power? How do I keep control? How do I not look weak or asleep at the wheel?” The answer is … communicate.  

When both parents are on the same page, the commitment level is strong and the boundary is usually held. They communicate through team work, and everyone wins. When you have a single parent home or one parent doing all of the discipline and boundary setting/maintaining, energy levels, commitment and full plates impact whether or not that boundary can and will be held. That is a form of communication as well. The kids know when mom or dad is tired. You may “want” that boundary, but if it’s not life-threatening and you know you do not have what it takes to win that battle, you are better off not setting it … at least not today. That being said, you don’t have to let the whole conversation go.

This is where you want to remember that one size does not fit all. It’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to choose different battles than another family. Just choose wisely. Know that if you nag your children about every little thing (making their bed upon rising, homework, a low grade, getting home late, too much time with friends, not getting a chore done, etc.), when it comes to something you REALLY care about … not taking drugs, not drinking, safety issues … they will not hear you. It all blends together and just becomes background noise.

What I teach is relationship-building. That’s what important. Choose the most important boundaries for this season and hold those. As far as the rest, this is where communicating with your children from a very young age comes into play. Begin planting seeds. Fight the battles that you cannot afford to lose. There are plenty of those! Let the other ones go … for now.

If you need help learning effective ways to communicate with your children, setting appropriate boundaries, repairing resentments and overall relationship building, I invite you to schedule a complimentary 15-minute parenting consultation with me at 951-240-1407 or email. When you build a healthy relationship with your children, you do not have to die on very many hills along the journey. It’s amazing what effective communication provides.

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