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Becoming Boundaries

Yesterday, I wrote about how parents need to establish clear expectations for their children that are attainable and reasonable. When children learn from their parents how to meet their expectations they are being set on a pathway that will turn them into mature, responsible adults. When they don't receive that training at home, they enter the world lacking social skills, life skills, and practical skills to be successful in life. The growth and learning of these most valuable skills begin in the home when parents have expectations.

There are many ways parents convey expectations to their children. They can be taught overtly where it's done with intention, and it can be learned covertly, where they learn by watching, hearing, and experiencing the expectation through abuse. When a parent establishes an expectation for their child, it can be either a behavioral expectation or a task related expectation. Behavior expectations might entail what you want your child to do as well as what you want them not to do. An example of what you don’t want to see in your child’s behavior might be physical; don’t hit, don’t bite, don’t kick, don’t slap, don’t throw, etc. It also might be words; don’t lie, don’t curse, don’t talk back, and don’t yell. You might want your children to have a positive self-image and lay down expectations for their expression of emotions. It might be in the way the child thinks violate beliefs commonly held by the parents. Patents might want to teach their children responsibilities that go beyond the home and into the school environment and workplace. Parents may teach their child how to follow-through on commitments and the importance of keeping one’s word. When children grow into young adults, parents may want to establish rules and roles for the children to understand dating relationships. Even after the children have married and moved out of the parent’s home, expectations must be clear as they evolve into becoming boundaries.

When you are successful in establishing your expectations, consistent with your training, discipline, and follow-through, your children will learn to understand boundaries long before you must discuss this with them as adults. When you don't teach, they won't learn, and they won't respect your boundaries as an adult because you never taught them your expectations when they were young.

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children;

instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

Ephesians 6:4, NIV


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