Tuesday, October 6

Boundaries


While exploring the grounds of an old castle, we strolled down this beautiful tree-lined drive and admired the huge red iron gate sitting at the end of the drive. No doubt it protects the inhabitants of the property, providing safety, keeping out unwelcome guests or predators, and keeping animals and children in. It marks the property line too with a quietly bold statement: here is where our line lies, here is where our authority begins and yours ends.



Boundaries for life, parenting, marriage and family are like that too.

I hate saying "no" to anyone. I grieve over having to say it. God has been showing me that wanting to please people all the time and keep peace is a pride issue, not the beautiful gift of being a peacemaker.

Sean and I used to talk in private about family issues that arose and I'd try to sweep them under the mat. Forgive and forget. Obviously, those aren't the healthiest ways of handling conflict and we found ourselves discussing more and more what we would allow and what we wouldn't allow to affect our home and children.

When we examine boundaries for our family, here is what we look at:

In relationships and friendships we keep an eye out for the health of a relationship. Is it healthy if we're always called upon to defend our parenting, defend our spouse, or defend anything at all about our family life? (I appreciate honest, curious questions and those aren't what I'm referencing.) Healthy friendships and family life are so vital to me in this job of parenting my children. I have enough doubts that I bring before God about doing things properly as a Mama and I don't need those added to.

Spiritual Boundaries - Am I allowing seed to be put into my children's minds that goes against the absolute truth found in the word of God?

One example for our family involves the movies we allow our kiddos to watch. We read in the Bible that God hates witchcraft. Can I then willingly let my daughters (or sons) watch any movie that portrays any witchcraft or magic, coming from any source other than God, as good? Someone eloquently put it as the "cute-ifying" of evil because cute = good, right?

A way that we set in place another spiritual boundary is by talking continually with our children about what we believe and why we believe it and the Biblical, historic, and scientific evidence that confirms our beliefs. Tonight on the way home from the grocery store, my nine year old and I talked about a strip club we passed and the implications of all that. We talk about anything. Even the hanky-panky Mr. Duck does on the front lawn with Mrs. Duck. :) Because if our kids don't learn the right way from us, they'll listen to anything the culture tells them and grab ahold of it.

Mental Boundaries - Am I allowing my children to be stressed, tired, worried, hurt, scared...

The world is a harsh place. Home is a safe place. Am I protecting my children's hearts? I haven't always been able to. They've been lied to and let down and had promises broken and sat on my lap and cried. That hurts. I know I cannot protect them from everything. If someone hurts your children once, shame on them. If they hurt them twice, shame on you.

I also don't believe it is healthy for children to hear their parents being spoken of falsely or in a ill way or being spoken to in a disrespectful manner. Can I tell you the words I wish I could take back speaking disrespectfully about some of the people I love when I was younger? I did what was modeled. Sean knows there are people I won't talk about if I'm asked. I brush it off sweetly, change the subject. I've been gossiped about and it isn't pleasant. I won't "prayer request" gossip either. We don't like hearing our children spoken to disrespectfully. Here lies our gate, our property line. That doesn't happen here.

Physical Boundaries - Am I allowing my children to be bullied or harmed in any way?

We are very careful who our children's playmates are, we know their close friends and their close friend's parents. We don't allow them to be alone with any child, teen or adult that we don't know. We have two babysitters that we trust and love and even then, we talk to the kids afterward. If you think we are paranoid, google the statistics of child abuse or molestation.

I love that our children's wing at church is a safe place for our kids. The workers have back ground checks and there are security boundaries in place to protect my kiddos while they are away from me for a bit.

If we're out in a public place, and the boys need to use the rest-room, I stand right outside it and listen. When they come out, I ask them who else was in the room, did anyone talk to them, did anyone look at them or do anything to make them uncomfortable? If someone walks into the mens room while my boys are in there, I'll even carry on a conversation with my boys from the door. I appreciate when those strange men smile at that and nod in approval when they walk past me.

Our children are not allowed free access to the computer. This is another safety boundary we have in our home.

Let me say that putting up boundaries in relationships isn't giving the cold shoulder. I think you have to bring all things before God in prayer, every difficult relationship, every conflict, marital or relational or otherwise.

Our memory verse on our chalkboard right now speaks of being a peacemaker and having patience with difficult people. I'm sure that applies as much to me as to anyone else with me wearing the crown of "Miss Difficult" sometimes. I put it up there more for me than for the children this week.

Those are the boundaries for our family that I can think of off the bat. What are some of yours?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very good post... I agree with you alot on this... One of the greatest problems that I have is bounderies with family members. When they play favorites with other children in the family and my children see it... How do you explain this to your kids?? How do you keep it to yourself?
Any help from any of your readers would be greatly appericated.
I have this with my husbands parents ... and I am always looking up to the sky asking for strength. But when it is so right in your face, and it is against your children. ( treat me the way you want I can take it, but when it is my kids! ) ... You do not want a fight to start between you and your husband... Cause I know honestly it is not worth it.
How do you handle it? Or explain it to them?

sue in NJ

Shawna said...

Thank you for your post. It has spoken to me and is just what I needed to hear. For months I have been losing sleep over some difficult family relationships. Decisions we have made to protect our children are being met with harsh criticism from those closest to us. We have some members of our family that aren't even speaking to us because of it....yet our decisions were prayerfully made and we know we are doing the right thing. Still,I struggle with "being a good Christian," when it means we have family members that aren't a part of our lives. How have you found peace when setting up these boundaries? This is something I haven't figured out yet.
Thanks so much!

amy said...

Thank you Hannah, this is a very timely post for me, as my husband and I are contemplating how to deal with a relationship where we are constantly being torn down in our parenting (because of our boundaries), and personally (because of who we are and how we speak and behave). Sadly, this relationship is not just a friendly relationship, but a family one.

You have encouraged me to find our boundaries in relationships (which have evidently been crossed) and act accordingly. I guess the acting accordingly part is the most difficult :) Thank you, though, for the encouragement.

Diane said...

Awesome BOLD post. Good work! :O)

Hannah said...

Sue, I'm so sympathetic for the situation you're in as I have a friend who is in a similar one. I wouldn't keep it to myself, I'd speak up at times where I see my kids being ignored or passed over, kindly, gently as possible. Pray that God gives you His love for your in-laws and speak honestly and calmly with your husband about what you can agree together to do about the situation.
When my kiddos are hurting, I apologize to them for not being able to protect them from the hurt and tell them that I don't think the offending party is intentionally trying to hurt them, that sometimes people have such big hurts in their own hearts that it is hard for them to show love in a proper way and we can pray and love on them as much as possible. I don't know if that helps at all, but I'll lift your situation up in prayer right now.

Hannah said...

Shawna, I'm right there with you.

I lost sleep and cried and cried and was miserable. Then my stomach got bad from the stress and finally I realized that I was allowing to happen exactly what the adversary wanted to happen to me.

Do your boundaries stand up to scripture? This was the guideline for us and I realized I was hurting for two reasons - not being able to please man and because I actually was being rejected for standing up for truth and protecting our family.

The rejection still hurts but the stress about people-pleasing doesn't and here lies the peace that I hold to. I realized I can't beg people to change their minds or stand for truth or to spend time with our children.

I've had it thrown in my face that I cannot possibly call myself a Christian and be at odds with family. Well, it is more sin and bad doctrine that I am at odds with. I still love the people and that's why it hurts, right?

I think if we are submitted to God, have wise spiritual counsel that lines up with the Bible and bring everything before God... if we are quick to repent when we're wrong or speak in anger or are hurtful and quick to offer forgiveness when repentance is offered... I think that is when peace comes.

Hannah

Hannah said...

Thanks, Amy and Diane. :)
Hannah

mandi said...

this a great post. something i think on often, especially as my children age. it looks like we have set similar boundaries for our families. one i'd like to interject is that of consumerism. we don't allow certain types of toys to be played with , or books to be read, or movies to be watched. we work to instill contentment in our kids. one of ours really struggles with wanting more, of anything! so we have been setting clear boundaries. this is easy for us- we are frugal. but it is hard when well-meaning grandparents visit with arms full of gifts. one thing we do is one new thing in, one old thing out. donated, of course.

Anita said...

LOVE your new kitchen!!

Have you heard about The Homeschool Channel that is coming in January? My dear husband is heading up this project of the American Family Association. It will be great for families across the country! Check out the website at thehomeschoolchannel.tv. You can also become a fan on Facebook and get lots of updates. It really will be a support for families. Not a whole lot of academics, but homeschool conference speakers and highlights of homeschooling families around the country. I keep telling my husband that I am meeting some wonderful homeschooling families through blogs that would be great for a program. He loved your pictures!!!

Hannah said...

Mandi we have the same views on toys and consumerism and try to teach our children to be conscious of where the products we buy come from and what sort of life the person making them has.
A friend and I were just talking about this topic in relation to Christmas toys last night. We usually do something simple for gifts like something you need, something you'd like and a book.

Anita, does this mean I have to buy a t.v. now? :)

Anonymous said...

Hannah,
Great post. After reading this I thought to myself that God set boundries for His people and that this why we have in part the Bible. Thank you for taking the time to write this out.
By the way, I thought I was the only mom out there who stood by the mens door hovering and asking the same questions as the boys came out. Honestly, I almost walk in if they have been more then 2 mintues!
Love to you and your family,
Marissa

Karen said...

Just wanted to say "AMEN!" to your post. Now that my children are grown I still want to protect them and I am mindful of reminding them about some of the issues that you discussed. They are of an age where they are learning about what boundaries they need to set for their individual lives. We had much the same boundaries as you've spoken of with a little bit of difference but we made them prayerfully as we felt God would have us to do. They weren't always met with happiness - especially as our kids grew older, but it was our job as parents to have those boundaries set in place.

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post!
Thank you for the encouragement!
Amelia

BL said...

Thank You I needed that!

Hailey's Beats and Bits said...

lovely. made me step back and assess how i put boundaries with my 3 girls. thanks!

Dianna said...

Ouch!

Hannah said...

Marissa, I love how throughout the Bible God spoke about boundaries for our safety and because He loves us - from the beginning in the garden of Eden, He put those in place and different boundaries are still talked about into the end of the New Testament.

Karen and Amelia, thank you for the encouragement.

Haley and BL, thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope this is an encouragement to you.

Dale said...

Hi,

This line you wrote jumped out at me

"I hate saying "no" to anyone. I grieve over having to say it. God has been showing me that wanting to please people all the time and keep peace is a pride issue, not the beautiful gift of being a peacemaker."

This is something I am dealing with at the moment. Could you 'expound' a bit on why it is a pride issue? I would like to understand a little better :)

Hannah said...

Dale, for a long time, I took pride in that I could keep the peace by holding my tongue and shrugging things off. I was proud of the fact that I could live at peace with everyone. For me, wanting to please everyone made me liked. Never saying "no" or standing up for myself or my family made me liked. I was proud that I was so liked, even though it was a false "liking" and I wasn't being honest with myself.

Its a hard thing to bear all that weight, allow yourself to try to live up to everyone's expectations, be relied upon as the one who won't speak back, who will let you walk upon her and forgive and forget. I just can't do that anymore.

I love the new peace and freeness with being honest with myself as to what my limitations are, who God has made me and who He hasn't made me and following this new little not often traveled path.

Hope this clarifies, thanks for asking,
Hannah

good mama said...

i love this. we have been
seeing a fair amount of
resistance to the decisions
we are making for our
children.. and our baby is
only 8 months old! we have
been praying so much to
just have peace and rest in
the fact that these are God
given boundaries and we are
doing what we've been called
to do. one thing we think of
a lot is that.. my husband and
i will stand before the Lord and
be held responsible for what we
did with our children. we each will
have to give an account for the
decisions we made, the boundaries
we set up, the things we impressed
upon their hearts, etc. none of the
people who are criticizing us will
be held to the same standard of
how our children were brought up.

love everything i am reading here.

HanRuthie said...

I just happened upon your blog. It caught my eye because we've recently taken on homeschooling for much of the same reasons, and to our surprise it has turned out to be an absolute change of lifestyle. What you have written here actually brought me to tears-for good reasons. These are things (exactly, to a T) that have been weighing heavily on me and my husband. It's an encouragement to me to see (read) a family structure that has such backbone. Thank you!