Boundaries Through a Different Lens
Recently I joined a women’s small group Bible study. I’ve only attended one session so far. As one of the older women in the group God granted the revelation of seeing these young ladies’ views of their relationships with their moms.
One of the things my eyes were opened to was when their moms visited their homes, where they now live with their own husbands, children, and families, moms like to come in and start doing housework. As the mom I viewed this as being proud mama having had the experience of how much work it requires to take care of a household thought I was being helpful. Through the lens of these young women they expressed how it made them feel like their moms were saying they weren’t capable of doing things on their own. Now I know if I enter my adult child’s home I would first ask if there is anything I could help with and let them answer yes or no. We as parents need to learn and respect the boundaries of our adult children also.
As a parent of young adult children in their early 20’s I’m just beginning to learn and accept they are not required to tell me where they are, where they’re going, what they’re doing, who they’re with, etc. I have to admit it hurts. As a parent your concern for the safety of your children doesn’t seem to dissipate. Our adult children are rightfully setting this boundary. In response to this particular boundary my prayer is they will not feel they have to lie about such things and lovingly respond they don’t wish to share the information.
I noticed the importance of boundaries when one of my children in their early 20’s decided they wanted the new pack of socks I had recently acquired and reached into my dresser drawer to grab them. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal and to anyone else it probably isn’t, but I had recently given this child a brand new pack of socks I had in my drawer for over a year. This child didn’t ask but went in to grab and in that moment I realized the lack of respect, but most of all this child was in my clearly defined (my room, my drawer) boundary. The “Boundaries” book written by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend describes boundaries as knowing where you begin and end and the other person starts. To illustrate this they use the example of property lines. In the sock scenario this distinction or property line was the door to my bedroom.(Proverbs 19:19, Proverbs 25:17 = Don’t overstay your welcome, 2 Corinthians 6:14)
Another boundary I’m currently in the process of learning is discerning between helping, loving unconditionally, and enabling. It seems instinctive to want to protect our children from anything and everything. We want to be the one they come to so we can save the day when there’s a hurt or a need. We hope they learn from our mistakes to avoid repeating them and even for us parents that recognize our children’s imperfections we still want to place them snuggly in bubble wrap to protect against what life will throw their way.
Jesus often withdrew from the crowds to be with the Father and to rest. This is an area I struggled greatly with. I believed my children deserved all my time and we often did without because of it. When it came to employment I was willing to accept lower wages in exchange for flexibility. Having parents who made sure we had all we needed, wanted, and money in hands, but not necessarily the one thing we children wanted the most – their time. As a parent myself I chose this exact opposite choosing time over finances when I should have sought both. Praise the Lord we serve a God that allows us not to worry about provisions and did He ever provide.