Tag Archive | boundaries for kids

Toddling Along

Today’s 10-Minute Tuesday post is on the prompt “Toddler”

xy+NaiZ5SBibbrRWXUJb0gToddlers have a bad reputation. They’re said to wear out their mothers, challenge anyone in their way, and be impossibly hard to keep up with. They’re just learning to explore their world, so they wreck havoc wherever they go.

I have an 8-month-old grandson who has just started pulling up on everything and is beginning to cruise from furniture piece to person’s leg to couch, figuring out where it is he can go next. And, maybe it’s because I’m Nana now, but I think it’s the best thing ever.

Babies need to explore their world. It’s what has to happen in order for them to figure things out. They need to face challenges, they need to overcome those challenges on their own, and they need to test their boundaries.

325xpAUERdKaBNwe257SpABecause I have my grandson 5 afternoons/evenings/nights a week, I get to help him navigate some of those challenges and learn to respect the boundaries. My 16-year-old daughter, who helps a lot with him, is fond of chanting “Choking hazard! Choking hazard!” if there is the slightest small thing that might end up in his mouth.

We are all aware of the dangers.

Before he even became mobile, we hauled the pool fence out of the attic, just in case someone should forget to latch a door and he would make his way to the pool deck. Having barriers and boundaries in place is wise, but cushioning his every tumble would just set him up to expect to never encounter a difficulty.

I keep him from pulling the cats’ tails while teaching him how to treat them nicely.

I keep a fence up around the pool, but take him swimming to allow him the joy of the water on a hot day.

I move games with small pieces while allowing him to touch and taste and explore those things that he does not yet know how to open.

IMG_0142Freedom within guidelines. This will help him grow and learn and develop in a safe environment without making him fearful that there’s danger around every corner.

God gives us guidelines as well, not to keep us from having fun, but to keep us safe while growing and learning and developing.

If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36), but do not use your freedom as an excuse to sin (Romans 6:15).

When I put up the pool fence for my grandson, it wasn’t so that I could say to him, “Ha! See that refreshing water? Looks fun, doesn’t it? Well, sorry! You can’t go in it!” No, that would be very mean of me. I put it up to keep him safe. He is a baby. He doesn’t know how to swim. If he were to wander into that water, he would drown. And that would be a tragedy for us all.

In the same way, God’s guidelines are not to keep us from having fun, but to actually give us a chance at abundant life.

We, like toddlers, want to move and explore and learn new things. It’s a joy to watch. But when we get close to those things that could hurt us, God is there to move us away. It’s the loving thing to do.

GZ9wojPiR+uwCUeIxWm7CAWe diligently watch Zayne whenever he is with us, because at this point, though he is not yet a toddler, he is crawling around as quickly as he can, seeing what there is to see and what he can explore (read “get into”) next.

I will never stop watching him, because I love him to the moon and back and want him to be safe while still desiring that he experience as much of his little world as he can.

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Rules and Relationship

It’s been a tough few months.

And when it affects my kids, it makes it tougher still.

Here’s the question: Does relationship trump rules?

checkoff-listI’ve been a parent for more than 21 years now, and I think I have a pretty good relationship with my kids. But I’ll tell you, they know there are rules. If I tell you to do something, you do it. Whining and fussing doesn’t get you anywhere in my house. My kids trust that I’m not going to tell them to do something immoral, illegal or impossible (although keeping their rooms clean does seem impossible at times). They trust that I love them and what I tell them to do is going to be for their benefit somewhere along the way.

Now, I’m human, and sometimes I want them to do something for my convenience. “Can you bring me my phone that I left on my bed? (because I’ve settled in my chair in the other room and you’re right there by my room)” But in the context of our relationship, they know that I’m not always doing that. And they ask me the same kinds of things, and more, because, well, kids.

Do they ever question my directives? Yes. Do I pull the mom card sometimes? (You know the drill: “But why?” “Because I’m the mom, that’s why.”) Yes. But they know that I love them. They know that they’re safe with me. They know that I ultimately want them to become fully functional members of society, and people who follow after God’s own heart.

When my kids have been pushing back against some of the things they’re told to do, child fighting with parentwhat I say to them is this: If you have a hard time obeying me, whom you can see, how much harder will it be for you to obey God when He requires something of you? This is practice for listening to God and doing what He asks because you trust Him and you know that He loves you.

I would think it should not have to be said that blind obedience to every authority is not wise. I’m talking about obedience in the context of relationship. Every parenting expert worth their salt knows that children thrive in an atmosphere of stability and boundaries. Allowed to run free with no rules, children will flounder. Loving guidelines and abounding grace create a healthy atmosphere for kids to thrive.

If my kids tell me over and over again that they love me, that’s going to mean a lot to me, but if they continually question my authority and break the family rules, some tough love is going to have to come into play. I wouldn’t stop loving them, but there would be consequences for their actions.

So how does this apply to our relationship with God?

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 ESV). He didn’t say, “Keep my commandments or I will stop loving you.” In fact, in context, He’s just been telling His disciples all about going to prepare a place for them in heaven and sending them the Holy Spirit to help them. But He knew it would be important for them to do what He has told them to do. For their sake. Not under compulsion, but because they love Him and want to do what He says. Did they mess up? Sure. Look at Peter as a classic example. He denied Christ 3 times. But oh, the restoration that took place on the beach before a fire after Jesus was resurrected. (See the 21st chapter of the book of John.)

grace tattooI love my husband. We have been married for almost 27 years. He doesn’t want me to get a tattoo. I want one. Just a little one. Nothing huge. I don’t personally think there’s anything wrong with tattoos. But he doesn’t want me to get one. So am I going to go out and get one when he happens to be out of town? No. Why? Because I love him and I am going to respect this desire of his that I not get one. I do what he asks because I love him and I know that he loves me. He’s not asking me not to get one just to keep me under his thumb. I know he would love me even if I did get one, but it would be disappointing to him that I made this choice. And I would feel the break in our relationship.

Do I give rules to my kids and then reject them if they don’t follow them?

Will my husband stop loving me if I get a tattoo?

No. And we’re broken human beings who make mistakes.

We can be assured that God will not abandon us if we break His rules, put into place for our protection. But our disobedience is not without consequences. God’s love for us is not measured by how well we follow His rules, but our obedience can be a thermometer of how much we truly love God.

The gospel opposes earning but is not opposed to effort.

 

Images from agingwithpizzazz.com; whatisoppositionaldefiantdisorder.com; pinterest.com