I remember seeing a photo some time ago of a person in an area with a fence going all around it. The person in the fenced area did not want to be there because he thought that he was being restricted and caged in. So over the fence he jumped, only to realize that he was on a plateau.
For our family, setting boundaries is not about restraint. Setting boundaries is about protection, much like in the analogy of the fenced plateau.
When I was younger, I remember that we had chickens at some point. My earliest memory of holding a chicken was how I could feel all the bones and I was so scared to hold it too tight that I might break it’s bones. And so I did not hold it tight enough and it got away.
Parenting sometime can be a lot like holding a chicken. You don’t want to hurt your children so you try not to squeeze them too hard. Yet you don’t want to be too lax and let them get away and get out of control.
As I think about setting boundaries versus stifling my children’s individuality these two analogies stay with me- how to I set boundaries that offer protection to my children, while still remembering to honour and foster their individuality? How do I hold them without breaking them?
And so combining those two analogies, how I go about parenting my children is looking at it like if they are flightless birds on a high pearch. The boundaries around them offer them protection, but at the same time, they need an opportunity to develop their wings so that they will learn to fly. If they don’t ever get an opportunity to flap their wings they would not be able to develop enough so that they can safely take flight.
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In the end I want my children to be guided into the right path but I want them to be able to choose for themselves. I want my children to be strong personalities for God- children who cannot be bought or sold.