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.