Kat is a wife, mom of two growing boys (& 3 fur babies), and a small business owner travelling in a 34-foot travel trailer with her family.
Boundaries Are Possible When You Work at Home
Keeping communication open, being honest, and providing your child the tools they need to support you while you're working from home not only helps you get work done, but also provides the confidence and skills your child needs to be a successful adult one day. Some of the benefits of healthy boundaries include:
- Increased empathy
- Improved ability to delay gratification
- Growth of listening skills
If your boundary training consists only of words, you are wasting your breath. But if you 'do' boundaries with your kids, they internalize the experiences, remember them, digest them, and make them part of how they see reality.
— Henry Cloud
Boundaries: The Road Less Traveled
Simply put, a boundary is a limit or imaginary behavioral line that should not be crossed. This is an incredible tool for both personal and professional relationships because it provides guidance on how one should interact with you. It sets a clear expectation of that interaction. So if this is so important, why do we find time and time again that some parents choose not to put healthy boundaries in place? It boils down to a very short list in most cases.
- The parent feels guilty about something so they choose not to "hurt" their child's feelings.
- The parent believes that there shouldn't be boundaries because it might limit their child's potential.
- The parent never had healthy boundaries, so they do not know how to set them.
Although these reasons may seem perfectly valid, there are some strong arguments for healthy boundaries.
Boundaries Make Kids Feel Safe
Believe it or not, no matter how much kids complain or teens yell, having their parents care enough to place boundaries on them makes them feel secure and safe. This safety allows them to feel more emotionally stable.
Kids Are Still Growing (Particularly Their Brain)
The prefrontal cortex doesn't finish growing until the age of 25 years old or so. This area of the brain is responsible for complex planning, focusing and organizing, and impulse control. Children need their parents' guidance to help them make the best decisions to help them flourish.
Kids Don't Expect You to Have It All Together, Just Available
If your parents never provided healthy boundaries, you can still successfully provide them for your children. Kids are resilient and forgiving, so if you try your best and admit when you make mistakes, your kids (and you) will be okay.
Open Communication Is Key
I learned quickly into my motherhood journey that kids can't read minds. Seriously, they can't. No matter how hard you try, they will never be able to know exactly what you are thinking all of the time. We have to communicate with them. We have to provide them guidance and instruction. But how do you do that consistently? Here are a few tips on keeping open communication with your kids to keep boundaries in place.
Get Them Involved With the Rule-Setting Process
Whether you have them design a "stop" and "go" sign for entering mom or dad's space or you have them help come up with your work schedule, get them involved so they feel an ownership in the process. This not only ensures they understand the boundaries but that they are actually invested in it.
Keep Them Informed
Do you have a conference call outside of normal work hours? Let your kids know as soon as you do and remind them just before the call. Remember, kids (and adults too) need reminders when things are outside of a normal routine.
Invest in a Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard
You can purchase one of these powerful tools relatively inexpensively at most big box stores or even at a dollar store near you. Utilize these by hanging them outside your office space to list the schedule for the day or notes to your kids so they always know when "quiet time" is.
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
— Thomas Jefferson
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Honesty (and by contrast dishonesty) has shown to affect our mental well-being, our relationships, and our physical health. There's no wonder that it also affects our parenting and our children's relationships with us and others. Although parents want to protect their kids, sometimes the best thing we can do for them is to show them that their parents are not perfect and have their own limitations.
Whether you can't do something you originally thought you could because something ran over or you made a mistake and double booked, being honest with your kids has several benefits when it comes to boundaries and raising responsible kids.
You Build Trust
Being open and honest with your child will show them that you can be trusted and that they can be open and honest with you too.
Your Kids Will Understand Your Decisions Better
If you are open about your responsibilities, your kids will be more accepting of your boundaries because they can see why they are in place.
You Model How You Want Your Kids to Be
Let's face it, if you want your kids to be honest with you and respect your boundaries, you need to show that you are honest and worthy of hose boundaries being respected. By being honest and open with your children on even the smallest boundary, they can see how to respect your wishes and follow through based on your actions.
Give Your Kids Tools to Succeed
Setting boundaries isn't only about giving you space and time to complete your work, but it is also to train up your children. Healthy boundaries equip them to deal with schedules, expectations, and other real-life scenarios, but you can't just tell them to follow your rules without supporting them. Here are a few ways to give your kids the tools they need to be successful.
Have Them Set Their Own Personal Boundaries
Kids have their own "to-do" list too. They have schoolwork, chores, and personal goals they want to meet. By helping them set their own personal boundaries to help them achieve their goals, you can show them the positive side of boundaries.
Invest in a Second Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard
Remember how I mentioned grabbing a dry erase board or chalkboard back in the open communication section? Why not grab a second one as well? You can use this one for your child's schedule to help them stay on track and visualize their day.
Have a Family Meeting
Discuss with your kids what they think about the new family boundaries. Ask them how they feel. Get their input and brainstorm on ways to make it better if there is a need. This provides your kids with the tools to be a great team player and work with others on projects in the future.