Friday, May 21, 2010


Boundaries, in general, are a good thing.  Biologically speaking, the boundary created by our skin keeps us from desiccating and the cell membrane helps to define the cell from the rest of the world.  Boundaries help to define, protect, and limit.  On the other side of the coin, boundaries can also keep unwanted materials in, reinforce unsubstantiated differences, and restrict.

Boundaries can also be restrictions and limits on behavior.  In this context as well, boundaries can be good or bad.  Boundaries help to define acceptable and unacceptable behavior, help ease communication by providing certain circumscriptions or limit definitions and ideas, and allow a measure of decency or prevent honest expression of thoughts and ideas.

As an adult, I both respect boundaries and challenge them- depending on which boundary is being discussed.  I think we tend to put up too many boundaries as a society, but they do serve a purpose and some boundaries make maintaining a society possible.  As the saying goes, "Your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins."  Ignoring important boundaries could lead to a lot of noses out of joint, not to mention state sanctioned religion, hazardous materials going unchecked, exploitation, and abuse of power.  A stupid person blindly accepts all boundaries and an arrogant person ignores all boundaries.  I don't want to be either.

This makes parenting difficult.  How can I teach a four year old about boundaries by example?  I can't impose boundaries expecting Ken to obey them without question, but I can't teach him that all boundaries are pointless either.  There is no easy approach.  And unfortunately, he's caught on to my ambiguity around boundaries, and tries out this new knowledge by imposing his own boundaries and testing mine.  Which leads to some very long days recently.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again- I love my son, even if he is high maintenance.  I just have to remind myself that the traits he's exhibiting are traits that I admire in adults and they should be fostered.  Possibly the hardest thing about parenting that no one ever told me is the difficulty in reinforcing positive adult traits in a child.

"Patriotism is supporting your country always, and your government when it deserves support." ~Mark Twain.

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