There is this thing that happened back when Grace was home for those few months after her mission that I keep thinking about:
One of my other kids (who shall not be named to protect the not-so-innocent) was having a rough night.
Oh she wanted something pretty terribly (I can’t even remember what), and she was throwing quite a fit about it.
What I do remember is that I was about to give in. Because oh! I was so tired. That day had been a doozy.
Grace was standing behind the tantrum-thrower, she could tell my giving in was right around the corner, and she gave me the wide-eyed “stop, mom!” sign (her hand swiping across her neck). Thanks to her, I didn’t give in. I kept those boundaries.
Of course, the not-so-innocent child stomped off to her bedroom, mad as a hornet.
But do you know what? She cooled off and came to give me the biggest hug to apologize. (This girl, I must add, is my hero and yes, has her moments, but is learning and growing every day.)
She knew she was in the wrong. She was able to resolve things in her own mind after a little thinking. And she was SO MUCH HAPPIER knowing that those boundaries were still firmly in place.
Kids need boundaries.
I was so grateful for Grace (who will be such an amazing mother some day), who reminded me that just because someone is wailing and I am tired doesn’t mean I should give in.
We all know this, right? Logically and outside of the emotions of it all of course we know kids need boundaries. But as I have thought about this interaction I realized I have been letting go of boundaries a little too much lately. It wasn’t just that doozy of a day when I was tired that I was tempted to lose them. Sometimes it’s just SO MUCH EASIER to let kids have their way! I am in the thick of tricky teenagerhood right now I tell you! Who’s with me? Every teenager has their own tricky business, but sometimes I think this particular teenager might just break me. Talking to other moms over the years I don’t think I’m alone in this: the stages where each teenager throws their mom for a loop.
And I have to remind myself to become a “durable object,” and not let my emotions get the best of me.
All that to say I have a renewed appreciation for the beauty of boundaries.
And if anyone else needs the reminder today: It really is ok to say no sometimes. To figure out some good consequences that work for your kids when they are sassy or throw their own version of a tantrum. There is safety and comfort to be found within the realms of what works for your family. Curfews are beautiful. Clear expectations help kids grow. Consequences teach. It’s ok for kids to be mad at you sometimes.
That often means you’re doing it right.
In a world where so many boundaries are diminishing, I am reminded how important it is for parents to fortify them.
Thoughts on raising teenagers:
(The comments in that last post are the things worth reading…good ideas about teenager communication there.)