Without boundaries life is less fun and often dangerous. Laws provide boundaries in society. We’ve all driven through an intersection when the traffic lights weren’t working. Everyone is on high alert and proceeds with extreme caution. But what if there were no traffic lights, no speed limits and we could drive on whichever side of the road we chose? Sounds like fun to some of us. But in reality, none of us would use the roads for fear of death. The boundaries provided by everyone respecting and obeying road rules allow each of us to regularly get to our destinations safely.
Healthy families have boundaries, too. Families benefit from clear laws and limits in how we treat each other, respect our property, perform our daily routines and cooperate to get things done. Expecting others to be or do things without establishing laws and limits will lead to frustration and disappointment.
Just as drivers study the road rules, we must learn the laws and limits of our family. And to respect our boundaries, we first need to decide what a safe home looks like and then write laws and limits to create that home. Post them somewhere everyone is likely to see them. The fridge is a good place.
Just like riding in the car with a learner – we parents need to be in teaching mode and expect mistakes from our children. These broken laws and exceeded limits provide opportunities for lessons that can be told again later. We learn through trial and error. When a learner breaks a road rule the adult in the car is responsible – we get the ticket, the fine and the points. Parents who take this approach to raising children create safe environments for learning.
Every story we tell teaches a lesson to those around us. Our words reveal our focus, our purpose and what is important to us. You don’t tell stories about things that bore you. Whether it bothered you or bettered you, the stories you tell teach lessons to those around you.
So, write your family laws, set your family limits and teach your family lessons through the stories you tell about those laws and limits – when they were helpful and when they were difficult. The boundaries we set create the people we become!