4 Boundaries Every Parent Should Set

By Janis Meredith | Posted 9/25/2019

Contrary to what your kids may think, boundaries are a good thing. They are not meant to suffocate or control your child, but rather to help them learn self-control and how to eventually set their own boundaries.

It’s hard for some parents to set rules or boundaries as their kids get older. They’d rather “wing it,” making up rules and boundaries as they go along. This practice often results in inconsistencies though, which can be confusing to a child.

Every family dynamic and every parenting style are unique, so the precise boundaries you establish may look very different from other families around you. For sports families, those boundaries could be especially challenging; it’s sometimes easier to let our young athletes get away with things because they are working so hard in their sports.

Here are some general boundaries to help your family be happy and healthy and which can be customized to fit the personality of your home:

Financial Boundaries.

However you choose to handle money with your child, be sure you have rules and that the rules are clear. If you get tired of your child asking you for money and even more tired of shelling it out, set some boundaries. Give an allowance, pay for chores done, whatever works for your family. Just be sure your child knows what the financial boundaries are. If you keep giving money every time they ask, they will keep asking

If your child comes to you wanting to go to clinics, camps or play on an elite travel team, let them know your financial boundaries as far as how much you can spend. Give them opportunities to help with the cost by either earning money on their own or working some of it off. When they have an important investment, they will put more into it.

Respect Boundaries.

Do your children know how far they can go in terms of how they treat other family members? Do they understand what it means to respect someone else’s property? Have you talked about how your family resolves conflict?

For example, one boundary in our home while our kids were growing up was that we would not tolerate name-calling and demeaning talk. If our kids were angry, we let them express it, but not at the cost of making someone else feel like crap.

As a family, discuss what respect should look like—in your home, at school, on their sports teams—and work to stay in those relational boundaries.

Integrity Boundaries.

What are the rules for honesty in your home? What will be tolerated?

This not only applies to lying within the family, but also honesty with teachers, coaches and even the clerk at the store who gives back too much change.

What integrity boundaries are important to you and your family? Be sure your kids not only hear it from you, but that they SEE it in your actions as well. When you lie to the coach or a teacher for your child, you are crossing the integrity line.

Safety Boundaries.

As much as your children may not like them, there should be boundaries set up for the sole purpose of keeping them safe. Whether it’s curfews, driving rules or drug-use, there are so many things they are exposed to that can harm them.

They can roll their eyes at you, call you mean and stomp out of the room, but the bottom line is that safety boundaries are important to their health and happiness.

You don’t have to be the “cool” parent that condones under-age drinking in your home or looks the other way when your kid takes performance enhancing drugs. Your child’s health and safety are worth the looks of judgment you may get for setting boundaries that others find harsh or unnecessary.

How Boundaries Work

Boundaries are not supposed to be a bubble around your child; they are not meant to control them. When you set a boundary, it frees your child up to enjoy everything within that boundary – without any guilt or doubt. They see the boundary, and they know that if they stay within it, they are fine.

So be sure that your boundaries are wide enough with lots of yes’s and a small number of no’s. Your child may not realize it, but those boundaries are helping them stay safe and happy

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.