Welcome to another Parenting weekend, where we are discussing the topic “Setting Boundaries verses Stifling Individuality” today we have Beth sharing with us.
But before we meet Beth and hear what she has to say, remember to check out our Parenting Weekend page where you will find past topics, along with upcoming topics. Be sure to let us know if you would like to be part of the Parenting Weekends by following the instructions on the Patenting weekend page.
Crazy Chicken Lady. Depression Warrior. Chronic Introvert. Beth Biggers is the lone island of estrogen in her family of four. She married her best friend at the tender age of nineteen. She is the chief entertainment, homeschool teacher, and hiney wiper for two crazy beautiful boys who call her “mom.” Well, one of them calls her mom. The other one calls her “Nar Nar.” No big deal. She abuses ellipses. She tells the truth, sometimes to a fault. She steals library books on accident. When she’s not busy chasing kids, saving lives, or Netflix binging, she uses her Big Girl words to express herself and talk urban homesteading, family, homeschooling, and Jesus-loving on her blog at www.bethbiggers.com “
My son has a milk moustache. It mixes with the peanut butter and jelly already mucking up his lips, his cheeks. He is out of his chair – dancing.
“How does my skeleton make me move, mommy?”
He sings a made up silly tune as he dances, whirling around, experimenting with all the angles his body can make. He knows he is not supposed to be out of his chair until he is excused from the table.
I let him dance.
I answer his questions.
I remind him, gently, to sit down and finish his lunch.
He obeys with a full smile, milk moustache in all its glory, nourishing the skeleton that makes him move.
His skeleton does make him move, or rather, it allows him to move. It gives his body form and substance, makes his movements meaningful and deliberate. It allows him to walk and dance and run. It will enable him to do hard work and to hold his wife. This structure which houses his organs, his heart, his soul, is rigid. But within that rigidity, because of that structure, my boy has complete freedom of movement.
It is helpful when enforcing boundaries with my children to remind myself that it is not my duty to raise children, it is my duty to raise adults. Right now they ask endless questions and poop their pants with virtually zero social consequences. One day, a day too swiftly approaching, that will change. I do not want to raise men who are a thorn in the flesh of society. I do not want to raise men who grieve the Holy Spirit. I want to raise strong, confident, godly, gentle, responsible men who love Jesus and love their people well. But I want to raise my men. I want them to be selfless, but to be wholly themselves.
Looking to God as the standard of perfect parenthood, I find that CS Lewis was right when he writes from the perspective of the demon Screwtape:
“When He talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamor of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.” (CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)
See, the thing is, God loves us. Intimately. Personally. At every stage of our lives. He sees us from the womb to the deathbed and loves us in the skin-on-bones, bleeding to death, sweat and tears, hard work of parenting kind of way. He loves us in the Abba Daddy watching His baby girl dance in princess dresses way. He loves us in the late night talks on the porch with dad kind of way. His love is not limited by His kindness. He is not afraid of breaking us. He is interested in getting glory out of us.
I want to parent like that! I want to fall so deeply and realistically in love with who my children are and who they will become that I can see boundaries as the way towards their individuality rather than something that stifles it. I want to practice the perspective that the glory of God in their lives is them fully alive. I want to gift them with the tools necessary to grow into men who can pass on healthy boundaries to their families. I do not want to stifle who they are, I want to guide them into who they are supposed to be.
My boys are adventurers. They can spend hours outside, watching birds, exploring the garden, playing chase and made up games with one another. It brings me such pleasure to see them run, sun glinting off of their hair, smiles full of life and innocence. They’re totally in their element and they know no fear. Our yard has a wooden fence surrounding its perimeter. This fence keeps my boys safe from cars and unsavory characters. It grants me some measure of the peace of mind that a mother craves when she sends her boys out into the world. It provides them with a boundary, not to limit their freedom, but to allow it. I am that fence in their young lives. The weight of that responsibility is heavy! I have to get my boundaries in line with the boundaries I find in scripture. I have to hit my knees and beg God for a heart like His, eyes like His, grace like His.
I want them to have boundaries like a skeleton, like a sonnet, like the scriptures: Rigid structure, but freedom within it. Freedom because of it.
You can Los head over to Beth’s blog and read some of her posts, like the ones listed below.