One crucial need we have in raising children is for other people to respect boundaries in parenting. Unfortunately, this can often be easier said than done. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of stories from other parents about times when family members or another loved one violated their boundaries and disrespected their parenting choices.
It is such a common problem that I decided to write a collective letter from all parents to all of our beloved ones, in hopes of communicating some of the thoughts and feelings we all find so difficult to express.
Family, Please Respect Boundaries as we Raise Our Children
I wrote this letter on behalf of all parents, and with love, I send it out to all of our families.
First, we want you to know how much we love you. Please hear the following words, knowing that they were spoken with love.
We really need you to respect our boundaries as we raise our children.
We know it is hard to respect boundaries in parenting. Honestly, we get it. Even when we’re out on a simple grocery shopping trip, there are moments when we see another parent doing something with their children that we would never dream of doing. We stand there, silently fighting the urge to run over and educate the parent about all the things they are doing wrong and all the damage they could be causing by doing it. We get it.
Parenting is hard. It’s like taking on an apprentice position in a job where the rules are constantly changing and the training never ends. You may think that you’ve got a handle on it at times, but then something new comes up and suddenly, you once again realize how little you know. Sometimes, you can’t help but feel insecure – terrified that you are going to completely mess things up.
It Hits Us Where We Are Insecure
So, loved ones, when you come along and undermine our decisions, it really hurts. It’s like hitting us right where we feel the most insecure and saying, “I don’t respect the choices you’re making.” It can be really hard for us to not take that personally.
And, you may not realize this, but it sends a bad message to our children. It tells our kids that what we, their parents, feel and think about things, is not to be taken seriously. Our rules are meant to be disobeyed and we are not to be respected. Is that really what you want to be telling our kids? Is that the message you would have wanted your own children to hear?
We Know You Don’t Mean It That Way
We understand that you don’t really mean it that way. You probably never thought about it and you may even think that we are making too much out of nothing. “It was just one candy bar”, you may be saying. “It was a good movie – I don’t even know why it is rated R”, you may be thinking. “What’s the big deal?”
The “big deal” is because. Because we don’t want little Sarah to have that candy bar because chocolate stimulates her senses so much that she’ll be awake until 2:00 AM. And because whether or not that movie should be rated R is not our concern. We still don’t want our ten-year-old to see it. And simply because we said NO, and we need you to respect boundaries in parenting.
Those of you with children, I’m sure you will understand if you imagine how you’d feel if someone violated your boundaries as parents. And those of you who don’t have kids – well, please allow us to lovingly and carefully point out that you actually know a lot less about this parenting thing than we do. Even if you spend plenty of time with children – as I did for years as an elementary teacher and principal – you still don’t really get it until you have children of your own.
Communication is Welcome
And please understand, we aren’t saying any of this because we think we know everything. Actually, we know we don’t. And if you have legitimate concerns about something, please feel free to bring it up to us – privately and away from our kids.
Maybe we will decide to change our minds about a decision we’ve made. Or maybe you’ll come to understand better why we made that decision. Either way, communication is always a good thing.
We know you love our kids. And our kids love you. We love you, too. We want to have a healthy and happy relationship with you all. And so we ask you, dear loved ones, please respect boundaries in parenting as we raise our children.
Our Kids’ Parents
Interested in learning more about respecting boundaries in parenting? Try the books below using my affiliate links.
- Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud
- No Means No! by Jayneen Sanders
- Kids Deserve It: Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Convential Thinking by Todd Nesloney
- Boundaries: The Power of NO by Jeffery Dawson