Freedom VS Boundaries
June - July 2018 Connect Magazine Article.
Conscious Parenting; Freedom vs Boundaries
Many of us moved away from authoritarian style parenting because we received some kind of extended and repeated disservice to us in our youth from our primary caregivers; the most common form seems to be receiving punishment, which was far exceeding the crime.
So many of us remember the days of “do as I say, because I said so”, the all to familiar repetition of our full name with that threatening air to it, “you better… or else”, the ghosts of this still make me shudder. I always knew that I wanted to break the cycle, that I didn’t want to be authoritarian when it came to raising my own children or caring for others, but how as caregivers do we go about this? It can be daunting to start with; the feeling is so strong in many of us that to break the cycle that we feel we must go to the extremes to be so different from our parents as to not pass on the scars of the past generations. I see this so often, in the children I care for; I see the permissive parent, the one that, with all the best intentions, wants to love their child and allow them to be free of the authoritarian rule that they, themselves, were subjected to. But what happens when this freedom is unending? When there are no limits, no boundaries, no support in personal and emotional development?
The excess of freedom leads to the same rebellion that comes from having no freedoms and this is really where we see a strong overlap in authoritarian and permissive parenting styles. Although permissive parenting begins from a love-based space both styles show certain levels of lack of respect, from both parties. From one side we have “follow these boundaries I have set for you without taking in to regard how you are feeling or what you need” and on the other side we have “do anything and I’ll only pay attention to you when you’re dangerously unruly or someone external complains”. Neither are supportive and sadly, a space with no boundaries can lead to anxiety, depression, obesity, higher levels of aggression and attention seeking to receive what they desire.
So let’s look at being supportive, how we can begin working together with our children to help them set boundaries, which support the child in learning how to respond to their bodies, minds and hearts and to respect themselves and others?
There is no magic button for this, it is a practice, just like our relationships and our health. It begins with us, and to be able to share this space with our children we must first become conscious parents, become aware that our little-ones are sponges and that they are hearing, feeling and learning from us, even before they are born.
For our family, having our own unique personal practices is very important. Mine includes dance, yoga, art, time in nature, swimming and making time every day to connect in together, this allows me to slow down and be present. What do you do each day to ground yourself and connect in with the ones you love?
I encourage you, to take a moment, to take a breath, to focus inwards and to slow down. To sit, in mindfulness, and to feel into what is coming up for you right now. I encourage you to do this in front of your children, and to do it with them. Take a moment, to stop, to be present and to ask yourself “how do I feel right now?” and to ask your children “how are you feeling?” many times through each day. Begin to create the space for them to start understanding how they feel and as you stay consistent in your practice you will all become more connected and empathetic. Empathy is a beautiful tool for life and is crucial in strong, solid, altruistic boundary setting. As humans, and even more so as children,
we authentically do not wish to harm others, if we can encourage this empathy from a young age we are able to nurture strong, kind, resilient little humans who will set their own boundaries from their heart-space.
So we come back to setting our intentions for our parenting, what do we want to offer our children? For me, it is about creating the space for children to be seen, heard, supported, and loved and to show them the way in which the world works and how they can stand up and find their personal power within that. Boundary setting is crucial within this, boundaries are what we use for self-motivation, health, education, relationships and beyond all; self-love. Without boundaries, we are unable to deeply love ourselves.