Parenting: Boundaries

If you read my post yesterday-  Motivational Monday Moment – 3/6/2017, you’ll know that I mentioned how my dad had allowed his girlfriend to tell me what I can and can not do. This got me to thinking about boundaries. I was a child, maybe 14 at the time and having someone tell me what to do when I had never met this person or interacted with them totally put me in a bad head space. I resented her for many reasons: she wasn’t my mom, she wasn’t my mom, she wasn’t my mom and she didn’t know me. She had only met me once.

Now, I understand in hindsight that a lot of it may be pure adolescence, but I think the point I want to make is that parents have to respect boundaries with their children. Just like you have boundaries with adults, you definitely have them with your children. Let them feel out the new person. Don’t allow people to decide things with them that don’t know them.

I’m a big proponent of boundaries as an adult because they weren’t recognized when I was a child. For example: My dad’s mother (my paternal grandmother) wasn’t very nice to me. She didn’t engage in any grandmotherly things and she never made me feel loved. Heck, I don’t think she liked me at all. However, my mom’s mom (my maternal grandmother) would always tell me that I had to go and visit her whenever I was in town even though she was mean to me.

I hated that. My grandmother’s wisdom led her to believe that I always had to do right by others even if they were treating me wrong. “They have to answer to God for how they treat you” she would always tell me. As a child I had to subscribe to this logic. But, as an adult and a mother to my own son, I now realize that this is not healthy.

I explained this to her when I was home last month. I told her that I would never allow my son to spend time with someone who didn’t like him and made him feel like he’s unlovable, regardless of whether or not it’s a relative. I explained that as his mother, it is my right and responsibility to protect him from people that aren’t good for him or to him. I told her that it did more damage for me to be around my grandma feeling like she didn’t like me.

No boundary was created to protect me. I had to endure it because she was my blood relative. Was it fair? Nope.

Thankfully, I can choose to create boundaries. These boundaries don’t just apply to relatives, but they apply to everyone who comes in contact with my son. Even in my relationship. I love Mr. C. He’s great and I’m so happy, but I don’t allow Mr. C to discipline Munch. Why?

Two reasons. First, we’re not married. Second, he doesn’t spend alone time with him where he would have to discipline him.

Marriage Brings Benefits:

If Mr. C and I were married of course he would be allowed to discipline Munch. That is a benefit of marriage. We will never live together without being married, so there would be no need to discipline him. Does that give Munch a pass to disrespect him? Not at all. But, I need my man to understand that his boundary is that of boyfriend and not a contributory parent and therefore his role is limited. Important, but limited. If we get married that boundary will be expanded to include bonus dad and disciplinarian.

Alone Time Would Be Minimal:

Mr. C hasn’t spent alone time with Munch yet. I told ya’ll we’re taking it slow. But, probably this summer they will begin to hangout and do things together so he can get to know him outside of me. My expectation is that Munch will be on his best behavior. Should he not be on that best behavior, I would expect Mr. C to handle it. However, I will have the conversation that my mom had when we were away from her: you better be on your best behavior and not embarrass me. You do and you’re never going to see sunlight again. 

Yeah, it was extreme, but it worked. The point is this…create boundaries for your children when it comes to their relationships with adults. Whether they be your relative, your significant other or a friend, allow your children to know what is expected in any situation. Talk to them. If they don’t feel comfortable…don’t force it. Don’t force them to take part in things that make them feel uncomfortable because you want your significant other to feel empowered.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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22 thoughts on “Parenting: Boundaries

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I grew up with 2 step-fathers and 2 step-mothers due to my parents multiple marriages. this was always a very contentious area; discipline. Sadly, due to (i’m not sure how to say this…) to how life was in those days (1950’s & 1960’s) my Mother allowed our 1st step-father to discipline my sister and I…this led to sexual abuse. So, although I don’t blame my mother, she had no idea, I do blame the man for abusing his responsibility as an adult and a ‘parent’.
    It’s such a mine-field of issues, step-parenting, but I believe if you have a good relationship with your child/ren, where they feel safe to talk to you, then many problems can be avoided.
    Also I agree with your view of being forced to spend time with people, even though they’re your grandparents, who do not like you is damaging. My grand-father disliked my mother and took that out on us…..we were ‘required’ to spend time with him. Still today, approx 50 years later, I have a total dislike of him. No fond memories.
    However,……
    I did have a laugh at this: “you better be on your best behavior and not embarrass me. You do and you’re never going to see sunlight again.” My mother said pretty much the same thing to us and I to my daughter…although to be fair, my daughter was such a lovely little girl she seldom ever needed this reminder.
    It’s really difficult being a parent, knowing what is and what isn’t right. I try to be guided by my own feelings. If it makes me feel uncomfortable, it would probably not be good for my daughter.
    Thanks for a thought-provoking article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you so much. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I think as we evolve we tend to read more and take pieces from our childhood and do better. I like to think that by creating boundaries with my son I am doing my best to protect him at this young age. Molestation is a big fear of mine. As a survivor of abuse I am keenly aware of things that can happen especially with family members. I allow my son to be around folks that he feels comfortable with. No pressure. Yep, my mom would say that and funny thing is that I probably would tell Munch the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I totally agree with you strongly as I believe in boundaries with my life. Many adults are walking around doing things they don’t want to do because at some point in their life the parents that were suppose to protect them made them do something they didn’t want to do for years. As a result they can’t say no to others whilst subjecting themselves to harsh treatments not knowing why they put up with it and it’s because their parents never pushed for their boundaries to be protected. Am glad you wrote this article hope many single parents and other families read and apply this its a big problem in a lot of black and other families 👌🏿

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Shereena. We have to push back and respect the boundaries of our children. I don’t subscribe to my grandma’s mentality and I will never force my son to be with someone he didn’t want to be with.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. when i was dating my prince, i started babysitting the kids and getting them on the bus (otherwise PC wouldve had to pay a babysitter to do it……. and i already knew i was trying to marry their dad, so this was a good way to try to get to know the kids and help him out). it kind of naturally allowed me to come in and be a sort of authoritative figure in their life. not to set and make rules but we had time frames we had to work with, rules that take place when getting on/off the bus. and it let the older one ask me questions and try to figure out what i was really doing with his dad. i think it really helped us to have that one on one time, but i know its different for a LOT of people. i was a step kid and i never had any alone time with my step dad, so it was weird that this random man lived in our house (for 6 months before they got divorced). it’s different for everyone! i think its good youre taking it slow with introducing munch to mr c. kids get so incredibly attached, they don’t realize that break ups mean that their relationship ends too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting. Yep, it’s different for a lot of people and for me, I want Munch to know Mr. C outside of me, but I’m in no rush. I want their relationship to be fluid and fun but I want him to stay in his lane in the boyfriend stage. Munch has a dad and I want him to see Mr. C as an addition and not a subtraction of his birth dad so I am just trying it slowly. But, if Munch didn’t wan to spend time alone with him, I wouldn’t force him too. I respect how my son feels.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, no one had them for me and it did more damage to me. I create boundaries for my son. If he hung out with my boyfriend and then didn’t want too anymore I would respect that and wouldn’t force it. We have to think about the children and their boundaries.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is an important message and a great post. I too had a very hard time with listening to my stepmom when she laid down the rules, and though adolescence had a big part to play there, it would have been a lot better with a better introduction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deb. We have to spend time allowing our children to cultivate relationships with the adults in their lives. We can’t force it and we have to respect boundaries. No one can just show up and be a parent one day that you don’t know. It’s not fair and it’s more damaging to the relationship.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, T. You brought it again. The last guy I dated wanted to be an authority figure without my okay. It ended up being a point of dissention we couldn’t overcome, thus the “dated” instead of “dating”. It’s really hard.
    But I LOVE that you point out that we are here to protect our kids and that we are responsible to put and keep GOOD people in their lives. So, so true.

    Love reading your stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Shannon! Yep, we have to protect our children. Until their is a marriage your role is that of friend, but don’t force yourself on my child or try to discipline them while we’re dating. Let’s take it slow. I’ve raised a great son and he won’t be disrespected, but their are boundaries. I have to protect his spirit.

      Like

  6. I seem to be following the logic that because people are my family I can’t shut them out even if they grind my gears. This is something I need to get over and perhaps I do because my mom doesn’t like how the family drifts between holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tikeetha – I wish my mother had read your post 40 years ago. I needed protection. My whole life’s trajectory changed because there were no boundaries when it came to her husbands and how I was parented. I will be blogging more about that myself in the future when I figure out how to safely put it out there to ‘benefit’ others as a coach.

    Thank you for such a well written post that for many rings so true! Boundaries are essential. As always – you have a powerful way with words! You are also a FANTASTIC mother!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks sis! I think Shereena said that it is a real problem in the black community and how we allow it without thinking about what is best for our children. No more. My son comes first and I allow him to create boundaries and I create them to keep him safe. Thanks again sis! I’m trying everyday to be a better mother than the day before.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Although I’m not parent, I think this is wonderful advice for everyone to follow and if God chooses me to be a parent, I will definitely remember this. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, you’re welcome. It’s a joy and you have time. My life is filled with being both mommy and manager and it gets busy, I’m just thankful for it all. I do miss cocktails and chatter with the girls. I never seem to get enough of that.

      Liked by 1 person

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