Setting Healthy Boundaries for Your Children (3)
By: Beth McHugh 2008
In the previous article in this series we looked at the most common violation of childhood boundaries: that of discussing adult issues such as financial difficulties and marital problems with your child.
The other common boundary problem involves the physical boundary violation of childhood sexual abuse. So common is this phenomenon that, by the age of 18, over 70% of females report some level of sexual abuse. This issue is covered in several articles which can be found under the category of Sexual Harassment and Abuse.
Today’s article focuses on more subtle boundary violations, in particular the inability by some parents to set boundaries in the first place. It has been said that many parents today have lost confidence in their parenting abilities. They have forgotten that they have power as parents and have swallowed the myth that they must be slaves to their children in order to get peace. Hence the appeal and indeed necessity for many programs such as Super Nanny and Brat Camp. These programs serve as mass-media learning tools for parents who require help in disciplining their children.
These shows deal with children in different age groups but there is one thing both programs have in common. The children in Super Nanny and the teens in Brat Camp do not have intact boundaries and do not respect their parents because their parents have not instilled respect in their children by the way they themselves behave.
Worse, the children and teens have no self-respect. This is the consequence of failing to set healthy boundaries for children and the end results can be disastrous to both parent and child alike. Children need to hear the word “no” and they need to learn moderation and restraint. Even though a child may attempt to wear a parent down with constant requests for this and that, and the emotional blackmailing catchphrase “but everyone else has one!” is called into battle, children do not really want pushover parents.
Children want the world. That is only natural. It is your job as a parent to let them know they can’t have it. They want the toy, but they want a sense of security more, even though they will argue relentlessly for the former. There is nothing scarier than a parent who always give in. Who is running the show? The latter creates children who have no respect for their parents – indeed, why would they? But in giving in, parents are creating monsters, Frankenkinder. Monsters that are not only full of rage but are also scared at a very deep level. And very angry that they are scared as well.
It’s nothing short of child abuse.