Monday, July 30, 2012

Planting The Seed: Teaching Kids About Healthy Boundaries And Saying No

Welcome to the Fabulous Hybrid Blog Carnival. Our topic this summer is BOUNDARIES! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Blog Carnival hosted by The Fabulous Mama Chronicles and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on boundaries in all of its many forms. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Last Saturday, I took Mermaid Girl with me to do errands and so we could just hang out. I had been sensing that she needed some time alone with Mama...definitely not something we do often enough. She is always sharing me with her brother and sister.

Our outing was lovely. We had a chance to chat and I allowed her to lead the conversations.

And it was then I became privy to something that took me by surprise. Here's how the story unfolded...

MG: Momeee I want to go back to our other house...

Me: Oh, why?

MG (in an upset voice): Because I don't like sharing a room with Sharky Boy! I want my own room back!

Me:  How come?

MG: Because he wakes me up! He doesn't let me sleep long in the morning AND he makes me get up to get his soothers when I'm fast asleep!

Me thinking: SAY WHAT!? I really had no idea this was happening! {Oh and also, we NEED to say goodbye to those soothers PRONTO!}

Me: He makes you get up? How much does he do that!?

MG: Sometimes one time, but sometimes more than one time. And I have to come down the steps and find his soothers. I tell him "No", but he keeps calling me and saying, "Mermaid Girrrrl....can you get my soothers?"

Me: And what happens when you say No, or if you tell him to get them himself? Have you tried just ignoring him or telling him to call us instead?

MG: He won't stop calling me. He keeps saying MG you get them. You get them because I love you.

Me thinking: SAY WHAT!? OMG!!! THAT LITTLE MONKEY!!

Me: He really said that!?

MG: Yes. And then I said, "if you loved me you wouldn't wake me up."

Me: That is true. No one, not even your family, can make you do things you don't want to or aren't comfortable with, even if they say, "but don't you love me?" I am going to fix this. I promise. But you also have to help yourself out and stand strong and let him know how you really feel. I am going to tell him he has to call me or Daddy or he has to get up on his own. I am glad you told me this. Don't worry about it anymore, we are going to fix this, OK?

MG: OK.

Me: Do you still want to go back to our old house?

MG: No, I like sleeping in bunk beds!

Then we proceeded to go to the grocery store where we bought an assortment of yummy items as well as some soother clips so that Sharky Boy can keep a hold of those darn soothers. And when we got home I had a one-on-one chat with him about boundaries and respecting his sister's need for sleep. And I said that when you love someone, you don't make them do things the other person doesn't want to do. I think he gets it, as much as a 3 year old can, but I'm planting the seed. A VERY important seed. Then he very sweetly said he would get his own soothers if they fell. And he has, as far as I know, kept his promise to this day.

I am glad that at this young age my daughter has had the opportunity to learn this important lesson on setting healthy boundaries. I'm sure she will have more opportunities to keep practicing, but for now the seed has been planted....because can you imagine something similar happening to her as a teenager or an adult?

Come on, if you loved me you would {insert manipulative teenage boy request}.

Shudder.

But not being able to set and maintain healthy boundaries not only affects personal relationships, but also in the work environment, in our interactions with health care providers, childbirth care providers, the telemarketers that call....everywhere! I want to teach my children to feel safe and secure in saying No and to following their instinct to do what feels right as well as what doesn't feel right.

I hope I've done, and continue to do my part, to prevent her from attracting people who won't respect her boundaries.

But, oh the age of boys and dating and broken hearts....it seems so daunting to me and I hope I am preparing her as best as I can for those impending days...


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Visit Hybrid Rasta Mama and the Fabulous Mama Chronicles to find out how you can participate in the next Fabulous Hybrid Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants.

7 comments:

  1. What a great example of how to guide children in the boundary setting process at such tender ages! I think you handle this situation perfectly, giving both children supportive guidance and gently nudging them towards appropriate boundaries. I do think it is crucial NEVER to use the “if you love me” phrase with a girl. The repercussions later in life are HUGE! Thanks for a great post for the Carnival!

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    1. I think it can be equally important to never use the phrase with boys. 1) they shouldn't use it themselves and 2) there are bad girls out there, too.

      But you knew all that. ;-) You just have a daughter. I'm actually thinking of the trouble my brother got into over a girl... years spent in prison.

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  2. I loved how you explained this important concept with such a cute example! And it's so TRUE!

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    1. Thank You! As the parent, sometimes the cuteness of it all makes it hard to be serious!

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  3. What an awesome opportunity to plant that seed! I think you're doing an excellent job laying the groundwork for her dating years!

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    1. I hope so Jorje! Sometimes it's so hard to know when and what is enough!

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