One of the most important parenting skills required today is the ability to set boundaries and hold the limits. In order to do this well, it is vitally important that you understand the relationship between boundaries and respect. Stay with me here, all will become clear.
Boundaries and respect. Respect and boundaries. Chicken or the egg? Why are we talking about respect, I want to create killer boundaries around screen time and other things!
I bet you’ve never really thought about respect and boundaries in the same breath. Believe me, neither had I! However, it is only when you understand the close relationship between these two things, that you will be able to shift from being so-so at setting boundaries and crap at holding the limits to being good at setting boundaries and kickass good at holding the limits.
Boundaries alone are not enough. I’m going to generalize here, but, most of us moms are not bad at setting “the boundary” ie. saying what needs to be done. But sadly that’s often where it ends!
It’s the next piece that gets us: we are not so great at holding the limits. You know the story, as soon as you get the pushback, you cave or dig in too hard.
So, what on earth have boundaries got to do with respect I hear you say?
In the work I do with parents, the following comment is possibly one of the most common things I hear:
“My son/daughter is so disrespectful!”
Do you ever feel this? Yes?
Have you ever wondered WHY?
It’s your kid’s fault, right? Yup. I thought this too. I blamed everyone but myself.
What you don’t realize, (don’t worry, I didn’t realize this for way too long) is that it is all about your boundary setting and way less about your child.
Okay, stay with me here because all will become clear.
STEP 1: UNDERSTANDING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BOUNDARIES & RESPECT
Your self-respect and ability to set boundaries and hold the limits are closely intertwined and understanding this will be pivotal in your ability to change your boundary setting patterns.
Let me explain…
Think of a time when you have not set a boundary around something with someone and that person (your kid, spouse, sister, mother, friend) has subsequently “walked all over you” or you “let that person get away with something you know you shouldn’t have”…
How do you feel?
Reality check ahead:
In allowing this person to behave like this towards you, you are actually disrespecting yourself. The other person is not usually thinking, “I’m going to disrespect you”. They just want what they want.
So why did it happen in the first place?
It happened because you did not protect yourself, your values and needs by setting a boundary and in doing so, allowed yourself to be taken advantage of which in turn made you feel disrespected.
The mistake we make is that we think it is the other person’s fault (them being disrespectful of us) when in fact it started because we did not respect ourselves enough by setting a boundary.
When we don’t set boundaries, the potential to feel disrespected by the other is high.
When we set the boundary but don’t hold the limits, we can’t give ourselves the respect we need to look to the other to show us the respect. When they don’t, we feel disrespected.
When we set boundaries, and hold the limit, the process in itself fills up our respect tank; we respect ourselves for doing it, and we don’t, therefore, need the other person’s respect to make us feel respected. Should the other person choose to violate the boundary and is “disrespectful”, (and let’s face it, with our kids, it will happen) it will not diminish the levels of respect we have for ourselves.
Setting boundaries are, therefore, one of the highest levels of respect we can show for ourselves.
If you really want to start setting BADASS boundaries, you have to understand this and a. shift your mindset around it and b. do the work.
Understanding this is the first and most powerful step you can take.
However, as much as it will help, and it will, if you are really wanting to step it up and take some action, then let’s begin.
Much of our self-respect comes from being able to set boundaries. Moms are typically too good at giving in and therefore have low levels of self-respect as a result of it. Giving in never feels good, does it?
We know we shouldn’t have given in but we just can’t help it. It’s so much easier especially when the kids push back as they do.
Hopefully, you can now see why you have to be able to deal with this.
STEP 2: EXPECT THE PUSH BACK
It’s almost a kid’s rite of passage to push back against boundaries, and as moms, we have to expect it. It’s how children learn to negotiate and navigate living within limits. In next week’s blog post I discuss this more: why they need boundaries.
However, if we give in every time they push us, or go to the opposite extreme and put our foot down way too hard, it’s neither wonder we feel crap about ourselves at our inability to hold the limits or bad about the fact we were overly harsh about it. And, it’s neither wonder that our kids then don’t learn these crucial life skills for themselves.
How can we begin to respect ourselves when we give in as much as we do or put our foot down in the way we do?
In Part 2, the next blog post in this series, I’m going to dive into WHY it is we give in as much as we do and where your boundary setting patterns might come from. When you understand this PLUS the relationship between boundaries and respect discussed here, it is all going to change.
Trust me understanding this, was a game changer for me and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you.
What better incentive and motivation for us to be better with our boundary setting and limit holding than to know in doing so we meet our needs and give ourselves all the respect, appreciation and love we need.
When we do this, we put ourselves back in charge of ourselves by taking control of meeting our own needs rather than looking to another, our child, to meet them for us because when we do that, it makes us feel powerless and hopeless.
Hopefully, you can now see how utterly ludicrous it is for you to expect your child to meet your needs! And you now understand why it is vital that you become good at boundary setting and holding limits to protect what you value and meet your own needs.
Look out world, because you are soon going to become a badass boundary setter and kickass limit holder.
Just before I finish: how good are you at setting boundaries around screen time and device use with your kids? Do you find yourself saying one thing but doing another and struggling to hold the limits around the boundary?
Boundaries, Limits & Screen Time…
Together at a family meeting Amy, her husband and two girls (aged 8 and 11) had collaborated and came up with new limits for screen time. The girls could each have 45 minutes of screen time a day.
A few weeks later, Amy was on her phone, distracted (work and texting friends) and realized that her youngest child, let’s call her Ella, had been on her iPad for an hour and a half…
“Ella, do you know you have been on your iPad for an hour and a half? You know we decided that you were only allowed 45 minutes on it. Why are you still on it?” Amy shouts to her from her office.
Ella ignores her.
She says it again, this time with more frustration. She quickly sends a couple more texts to her friend before realizing that Ella was still on her iPad…
“Mom, please, I’m in the middle of a game, if I stop now, I’ll lose all my points.” she shouts back!
“Put it off now.” Amy says as she marches from her office to the living room.
“Mom, you are horrible. I hate you. You are so mean.” Ella wails as her mom takes the iPad from her.
“That’s it! You are being so disrespectful of me right now. No more iPad this week. Give it to me. Now!” Amy tells her.
Sound familiar. Same old. Like a stuck record right. On and on you go. Can’t get off the mouse-wheel. Feeling frustrated and disrespected and not heard.
In next week’s blog post I use this exact example. I go through it step by step. If you struggle like Amy, it will really help you fine tune your boundary setting and limit holding skills.
Can you imagine how this is going to change your life?
Amongst all the other things this will help you with, imagine a life not arguing with your kids about them being on their devices ALL.THE.TIME.
PS. Did you know I have a podcast with over 300 episodes on everything parenting? It’s called Parenting In The Thick Of It. Tune in with thousands of others.