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Rules and Boundaries

“Everyone is in the middle of a life story.

Your story is being shaped by what you are saying Yes to

And what you are saying No to”

Those are the words used by Sarri Gilman to start her TED talk about the boundaries we set in life.

With every parent's group that I lead I experience the same routine. When I announce “next meeting’s topic will be rules and boundaries” I know I’ll have full attendance. Parents arrive at the meeting alert and ready. Pens and notebooks in their hands. They ask “Tell us the secret, how do we enforce the rules? How can we make kids keep boundaries?”

I am from Israel and I have no doubt, this is one of the most troubling issues for Israeli parents. At least the ones I met.

Today I live in Seattle. Do you know what I’ve learned? It troubles parents over here as well.

When we address rules and boundaries there are Lots of emotions floating in the air: They are based on our values and touch the expectations we have of our kids and ourselves.

Whenever rules are not obeyed and boundaries are crossed, our sense of order and control is shaken. We feel hopeless, even meaningless. There’s tension in the air.

Apparently, this holds true regardless of the language.

Gilman talks about a YES/NO compass inside each and every one of us. If we listen to it, we will know where to set our own personal boundary.

It’s the same in parenting and It starts with us. There are times when we do not listen to our boundaries: Did we say “YES” because we couldn't face our child’s frustration or didn’t want him to cry? on the other hand, did we say “NO” only because he made us so angry? When our kids ask why we decided on a certain rule at home, do we have a clear and firm answer? Do we have an answer we are certain about?

When boundaries are clear and known and when we ourselves respect them, the better the chance they will be implemented at home.

When we explain to our kids on what ground boundaries are set, the better chance we will create consideration and mutual respect.

To that my compass always says YES. I assume yours will too.

Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

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