Setting Boundaries for Your Children

Sometimes a parent’s boundaries are misunderstood by their children. Sound familiar? For example, a mother lovingly places her toddler in a car seat, knowing it’s the best way to keep him safe. Yet, the toddler finds the seat restraining and struggles to set himself free. A father carefully builds a back yard fence, creating a safe environment for his children to play. However, the children see the fence as a confining barrier and desire to play in the front yard where they can roam free. A father and mother review the rules once more before permitting their teen to drive the family car. The teen reluctantly yet ultimately agrees to the rules, even though she views the established boundaries as far too restrictive.

Parents whose boundaries are misunderstood should take comfort in recognizing that God’s boundaries are at times misunderstood by His children. Yet, God doesn’t compromise His boundaries based on His children’s understanding or personal compliance. Our loving God sets perimeters for our lives and allows us freedom to operate within those perimeters rather than striving to merely modify or control our behavior.

One of the best ways to train children to appreciate and embrace God’s boundaries is to consistently communicate pertinent perimeters, explain God’s purpose in each one, and express the benefits of living within them. For example, we know that God’s boundaries are established as a result of His love for us. Therefore, explain to your child that the rules made in your household are because of your love for him and are designed to achieve God’s best for his life.

Also, God’s rules are put in place for our protection. Let your child know that, when he chooses to live within God’s boundaries, he will receive His blessings. On the other hand, when he chooses to operate outside of God’s boundaries, he is choosing to live outside of His divine protection.

Read together Psalm 19:9b-11: The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Then, enter into dialogue with your child to help him understand that you take your parenting responsibilities seriously and know that you are accountable to God for the rules you establish in your household. Show him how each instruction reflects biblical principles and encourage him to honor the Lord through obedience.

As a child grows in his understanding of biblical boundaries, he will recognize their significant purpose and become increasingly equipped to live within them.