Saturday, March 1, 2008

Boundaries of Jell-O

One of the most difficult things for me to do as a parent, is stick to the boundaries dh and I decide are best for our children. For example, when we were younger, and our kids were quite small, we made the decision to watch/rent only "G" and "PG" movies. But as the years have gone by, there have been movies that we both wanted to watch, and lo' and behold, they'd be rated "PG-13," or (Heaven forbid!) even "R." So, we'd relax the rule, make an exception, and now here we are with lots of "exception" and very little "rule."

I suppose much of that is natural. After all, as my children get older, I want them to begin deciding on their own a bit about what's "okay" and what's not, in certain areas.

But my kids have become masters at figuring out how to make Mom "gel" with the boundaries. Perhaps it's just a "once in a lifetime" event that would break our curfew...and then that situation seems to present itself more and more often. Or maybe it's a special show on TV that airs well past bedtime, so we'd better make sure we stay up and watch it...but then three other nights in the week have "specials" on, as well. *sigh*

I guess I just want my kids to know the difference between a boundary that has to stick, in order to protect them, and a boundary that is made of gelatin, and can be used to make life better for us as a family...whether it's more fun, or just something we would like to see happen for us. But I wonder how much of this they're truly understanding.

I suppose one way to know if the kids are respecting my boundaries, is to see if they're respecting (or even making) their own. Is school work, prayer time, eating right, avoiding certain situations, etc. important to them?

My youngest son (9yo) has had the toughest time with one boundary in particular. We live in an apartments complex. Although we're in a small town, I've made it clear that ds can NOT just walk out of the apartment without telling me he's leaving. That's tough for him. Mostly because we used to live in the country, and walking outside was not something that necessarily had to be reported, unless you were leaving "shoutin' distance." LOL! So for the last couple of years, retraining him to let me know when he's walking out the door, has been a struggle. And, consequently, he's been grounded to the apartment and from friend time quite often. :( I hate that...because I know it's probably not intentional, but is forgetfulness a good reason to soften this boundary? I have decided, no...his safety is more important.

However, recently I'm noticing he's doing much better...making sure to tell his friends whenever they come to call, that they'll have to wait on him at the door so he can tell his mom he's going to the playground. It's taken a long time, but the adjustment is finally taking hold. And since I know it is, when he does forget from time to time, I feel like I can let him "off the hook" a bit, because the rest of the time, he's doing so well remembering the boundary.

Obviously, doing this depends greatly on the kid, and how quickly they adjust once the consequences have been applied. :-D But today I'm just wondering how to manage my own boundaries, and what the Lord does to correct me when I don't do it very well. ;)

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