Boundary-setting that works for you and your child

imageToday’s parenting post is by Grace.  Grace is a wife, homeschooling mom, doula, pastor’s kid, and writer. She currently resides in southern Oregon with her husband and three gorgeous children, where they enjoy walks in the woods, wading in the river, reading good books, and attending a diverse and compassionate church.
You can find Grace over at My Divine Blessings where she blogs about special needs, family, pregnancy, christianity and many other things.


After three children, it’s become quite apparent to me that every child has their own unique personality. One would think that this fact would be obvious, but for some reason our society’s books on parenting seem to think that all children will respond to one particular method or technique. Within these various methods, whether they work for most kids, or only work temporarily for some kids, or don’t work for any kids in the long run and ought to be done away with altogether, there is some commonality, which is that they are all ways of setting boundaries: “You may do X, but not Y”; “This behavior is not acceptable, but that one is”; “Such actions are not acceptable, but these other actions are to be praised”.

 Boundaries are what teach our children how to behave in modern society without any resemblance to the “society” in Lord of the Flies. Teaching manners, kindness, and compassion are all vitally important for us to live together in this world. Yet how to teach those things is a mystery to many parents, especially with so many different “experts” claiming their method as THE method to use.

 What I support in my doula and parent educator work is for parents to make informed decisions. Every parent has the right to choose one method or another (provided it is not abusive to the child), but they ought to make decisions after exploring different options and being truly informed. It’s important that as we set boundaries and teach our children how to behave, that we do so in a way that works for them, and that you, the parent, can get behind and support fully. It’s not only your child’s individuality and personality to consider, but also your own. So here I will present a few ways to sift through the various methods and figure out which one will work for both you and your child.

 Does it align with scripture?

This is of course the most important, but sadly it’s one of the most misunderstood standards of child-rearing. There are common idioms and old wives tales which are passed on as if they are somehow biblical, but they actually are not. It’s important to take the Bible as a whole. If one verse seems to contradict another, mete it out prayerfully and dig a little deeper to find which verse was misunderstood. Try different versions, look at commentaries, and seek out differing opinions to see which one seems to fit the whole of scripture, in context. Examine each supporting scripture through the lens of Christ. If you can’t see Jesus disciplining your child in that way, then perhaps you should find another way.

 Does it work for your personality?

This is not only a question of whether you can support the method, or whether you “feel good” about it. It’s also the question of temptation. If you are prone to certain sins—anger, anxiety, laziness—find something that will not encourage those sins. The parent with an anger problem should not take to spanking; the parent who is lazy should not take to a parenting method which lowers the parents’ involvement. Take care to make sure the method you choose will not be a stumbling block to you or your spouse.

 Does it work for your child’s personality?

Boundary-setting is always going to be difficult, and children will almost always fight against it (unless you have one of those mythical compliant children). But it should always encourage them to abide within those boundaries without having to be bribed, manipulated, or threatened to do so. They ought to do right because it is right; not because they fear punishment, or because they want a prize. Doing right should be a reward on its own. So find something that will lead them to do right in a way that they understand and that works with their unique personhood.

 Try it and be open to change.

I’ve tried many methods with my “spirited” oldest child. Few have truly worked for the both of us. We have found PCIT to be the most effective for her, though we are still learning and developing our skills in that method. Still, it has taken six years for us to figure that out. There were many trials, many failures, and many changes in course. Whenever you set out to try a new method, do so with the knowledge that it might not work, and you might need to change again. Be willing to change as needed.

Use a variety rather than being stuck with only one.

I read a lot of parenting books, blogs, online magazines, websites, forums…. I have heard pretty much everything there is so far. Not that I know everything or am the ultimate expert, but I have read quite a bit and consider myself well-educated on the subject. This does not mean I am a perfect parent and always get it right. Quite the contrary. It’s because I see my faults and failings that I keep trying to figure it out and get new ideas. Because of all this extensive research I have done over the years, I have found that it is not always one particular method that works, but that the combination of many methods works well to round out the big picture of parenting. Some methods work in certain age ranges, or with certain children, which do not work in the next age or with subsequent children. It’s important to be sensitive to those, and not be so set on one particular method that you sabotage yourself and create more frustration for you and your child. Mix it up and figure out what works for you.

Parenting is such a unique combination of meshing your personality with your child’s, and sometimes it’s hard to find the balance between them. Respecting your individuality as well as your child’s will be the key to finding a way to set boundaries in a positive and effective way.


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Weighed in the balances

Daniel 5:27 (NLT)
Tekel means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up.

What is the weight of the things we seek after most in our life?

Some things are as light as feathers. Other things have an infinite weight.

Which things are we adding to our life?

Worldly gain, education, fashion, looking good, having a good time, status… These all are feathers.

Living for Christ and suffering for Him- an eternal weight of glory

2 Corinthians 4:17 (NLT)
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

What are you seeking after most today? Seek first the Kingdom of God and very thing you NEED will be given to you.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

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Post Partum Depression



depression new

Welcome to another post in our series on depression. Be sure to check out the entire series here


My childhood day dreams were filled with fantasies of someday becoming a mom that would fully encompass all of the amazing qualities that would win “mom of the year” awards. My expectations of what motherhood would be were rooted in these little girl fantasies. They were based solely on my own strength and performance rather than in trusting that God would supply all that I would need as a mom if I would surrender and depend on Him. Fears or thoughts of post-partum depression never crossed my mind.

After my first son was brought home from the hospital, reality started to settle in that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. I thought breastfeeding would be the most natural thing and yet my son refused to latch and became very jaundice. I felt like I was already failing as a mom and put huge pressure on myself to do everything perfectly without help. Pressures and fears started to consume my thoughts and I wasn’t sleeping and running on fumes. Six days after my son was born, I woke up and just knew that something significant had changed. My heart felt like it was beating a million miles an hour and it seemed as though an elephant was sitting on my chest so I couldn’t catch my breath.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

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Quiet Time For Kids

imageToday for our Aptil 2015 Parenting Weekend, Kaylie looks at this month’s topic “Setting Boundaries vs Stiffling Individuality” by talking about how she enforce quiet time- a sanity saving time that I completely understand.



My kids are rustling quietly around in their beds. It’s rest time at our house, and it is a rare day indeed that we can’t set our clock by rest time. Considering I lean in the direction of free range parenting, this strict enforcing of quiet time could seem a little strange. As a parent that believes in big doses of freedom, why would I make my kids stay quiet in such confined space for a chunk of our day?

Why such fervency of structure?

Well for one, my sanity. Let’s be real here, parenting is hard and we all have limits. Knowing and honoring those limits can make us better parents. Which could sound selfish…until you consider that your kids have limits too.

Yes, some of my kids are past the napping age and no they don’t all want to do quiet time, so this is an enforced boundary that goes against their personal freedom so I need a pretty good reason to stick with quiet time. Why do it?

I have this crazy belief that limits enhance our personal expression instead of suppress it. This belief pulses its way into our lives in various forms, but none so pronounced as quiet time.

The fact is everyday life requires an immense amount of creativity, especially for kids. Kids express themselves by playing with toys, resolving conflict, and imaginative play. Basically, their whole day is self-discovery.

How does setting this boundary enhance self expression?

Truthfully, my introvert kids need to reset. If you have introverts, I bet you can see their exhaustion by midday. It may look like frustration or boredom. Their problem solving skills turn into a whirl of short tempers and tears.

In vain you get up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food– yes, He gives sleep to the one He loves. Psalm 127:2

These kids need the quiet and still to stir up energy that has been sapped by constant input. They use the time to process, rest, and remember. The rest fuels their ability to play and problem solve creatively. They can sink far more comfortably into their skin when they get the time they need by themselves.

My extroverts are another story though. They are my rest time resisters and while it may appear that they aren’t tired, the signs are definitely there. Most notably, their energetic effort to make things work for them, their creativity turns lazy and becomes apathetic. You might notice your little extroverts slipping into manipulating things in an unhealthly way. Mine usually start slipping in little fibs to make things work for them. Often they start overpowering their more tired siblings.

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Isaiah 26:3

My extroverts need a forced quiet time to reflect. Lazy creativity can create bad habits. As strong extrovert myself, I know that self-lireflection is a habit that needs to be practiced in order to good creative habits. I occasionally (okay, fine, after a really bad morning) give my extroverts reflection questions to think about during quiet time.

Working with limits, not against them.

Most kids will set limits for themselves if given enough freedom, but often they need our guiding hand to see when they have reached those limits. We are the guardians of their little hearts and when we see them move from healthy self expression to frustration and bad habits we do well to direct them to rest and reflection.

And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:7


Kaylie Hodges is a wife to an amazing husband and mom of five sweet babies under five. She has three bio daughters and two adopted sons. She is a Truth Seeker, a Jesus Follower, and a Strong Coffee Drinker. Kaylie blogs about faith, family and funnies at Adventures in Happily ever after.

Posted in April 2015, Christian Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boundaries vs. Individuality: Is There a Conflict Here


“If your boundary training consists only of words, you are wasting your breath. But if you ‘do’ boundaries with your kids, they internalize the experiences, remember them, digest them, and make them part of how they see reality.”
― Henry Cloud

She was frustrated, it was written all over face. She wasn’t asking for the moon, merely an opportunity to make her own decision. My daughter had thought this through, felt she was able to accomplish the task, and only wanted the freedom to move forward. It was time to ask myself an important question: Was she crossing a boundary here or just expressing her individuality?

It seems obvious… before we can determine whether our children have actually stepped out of bounds, we need to determine exactly what those boundaries are:


  • You shall have no other gods before Me (the Lord).
  • You shall not make idols.
  • You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  • Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  • Honor your father and your mother.
  • You shall not murder.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • You shall not covet.
  • While this list could go on, by now, it should be pretty obvious where I’m going with this. We are to follow God’s commands, live righteously, and love our fellow man. If my child is living a life pleasing to the Lord, all else falls under the heading of individuality.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

But what about those choices I make for our household, the ones that aren’t ‘officially’ spoken of in the Bible; things like tattoos, staying out late with friends, dating, and more? Do these fall under the heading of boundaries or individuality? To this question, I would ask my child to look back at commandment (boundary) number five above: Honor your father and mother.

As parents, we aren’t making decisions willy-nilly; we’ve made them through careful consideration and hours of prayer. Our children are commanded, and expected, to obey these boundaries understanding our choices are made with their best interests at heart. Each family needs to be on their knees in prayer, asking the Lord to give their family wisdom in making these choices.

Does this mean our children are never free to express themselves and make individual decisions? Of course not! There are many areas in which our children have liberty. To name a few:

  • Hair Color
  • Clothing Style
  • Music Style
  • What They Eat
  • Whether They Choose To Go To College or Not
  • Career Choices
  • Expressing Their Opinions
  • Personal Goals They Want to Achieve

Hair color? HAIR COLOR; you ask?! Ask yourself this question: If my teenager wants to try wearing purple hair for a few weeks, does it really change the course of the world? If my young adult wants to live in only blue jeans and t-shirts for months on end, what’s the big deal?

What about things that aren’t technically forbidden, however, for any number of reasons, they should be considered carefully? As Paul noted in 1 Cor. 10:23:

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”

In a nutshell, Paul was writing this to the Corinthians to advise them not to use their liberty in a way which might stumble new believers. There might be things which are not necessarily wrong, but would give a bad witness. Where do we draw the line?

Unfortunately, there is no black and white – one size fits all – answer. This is where wisdom comes into play. We need to be encouraging our children to seek the Lord in all things and allow us to advise them in such choices.

What we ought to be asking ourselves is this: Where is my child’s heart? Is this an act of rebellion or just a fun idea that’s been rattling around in their brain, waiting for an opportunity to be acted upon? If my baby’s heart is right with God, and they’ve sought the Lord in their decision, what is the harm in letting them try something new?

There is no danger to their soul; no physical harm involved. My child is merely asking to try something and venture into the unknown. What about all those nay-sayers who might think something’s just a little off in your household, especially when they see the purple hair? Hmm… Well. Does their judgement say more about your child or about themselves? Remember the old saying, “Never judge a book by it’s cover.” My child’s hair may be purple, but the soul underneath would die doing the work of God, and, after all, that’s what it’s all about.


image Who am I? I am a young lady whose heart is to serve the Lord with all of my being in the role I play as a wife, mother, and teacher.
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Helping Children Build A Strong Sense Of Self Worth
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Posted in April 2015, Christian Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment