Tag Archives: “boundaries”

Boundaries VS. Ultimatums

This has been a crazy, stressful week, and this will be a short parenting blog, so a short topic–a simple one. What is the difference between an ultimatum and a boundary?

A boundary describes your action. An ultimatum describes what another person must do. They can both have consequences, but in the boundary you don’t set up the defensiveness and pushback that the ultimatum does.

An ultimatum says, “You must… and sounds very controlling and demanding. A boundary says I’m going to… if you don’t honor my rule, my need, etc.

In the one you are demanding compliance; in the other you are informing of your possible forth-coming action pursuant to their action. For example, if you want your child to honor the curfew, stated as an ultimatum it is: “Be home by 10:00 or you won’t go out this weekend.” Stated as a boundary it would sound more like, “Remember your curfew is 10:00. If you don’t honor it, you won’t be using the car this weekend.” Not a huge difference, but it feels a lot different.

A boundary puts responsibility on the other person but takes responsibility for your action. It is more likely to evoke cooperation than an ultimatum, which usually makes people feel rebellious.

An adult situation where ultimatums are often used is affairs, “If you don’t stop seeing the other woman/man I’m leaving.” Stated as a boundary, “I can’t live like this; it’s too hard. If you want to keep seeing her/him then I have to go.” One produces angst and rebellion, the other will more likely elicit compassion and responsibility.

When it comes to children, yes, you want them to do what you want, and respect your authority and rules, so make it as easy as you can. It doesn’t have to be a test. In fact if you treat them respectfully, it will foster their respect for you which is the best way to parent.

If it feels like you are always challenging them to a dual, or at least a power struggle, you aren’t teaching cooperation but rebellion, sneaking, or defiance. Programming like that sets up a child to suffer poor relationships–likely having problems with authority (bosses, the law, and of course spouses). Teaching cooperation sets up good will and greases the wheels of social interaction. Modeling and teaching respect will help your child all through life–make it easier.

If you were set up that way–resisting and challenging everyone, expecting to be defensive, you will find it hard to parent differently. You will have to go back and look at where your tendency came from, have to forgive whoever taught you, and practice being mindful and doing it differently.

If you start young with your children, it’s easier. When they are young they truly want to please you  and win your approval. Every parent knows that if you could get them to want what you want, parenting is easy.  But they won’t always, and they have to separate, so make it as easy and respectful as possible. At the same time, do NOT let them do whatever they want to. As I’ve been saying for weeks that is really hard on kids.

I know it is in vogue not to say no to your kids, but it’s wrong.  I hear all the time how schools and preschools are not using no, that is so bad for boundaries which, I will say again, give children security. They want and need boundaries. No is a very important word to healthy child development. It creates a boundary of safety that feels loved, even when your teenager hates it.

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Overwhelmed by Info

I’ve heard a lot of people saying “I need a simpler life,” is that true for you too? We tend to be overwhelmed by information today–even social media.

I’ve heard it said that we’ve never been more connected, but have less real connection than ever. You’ve seen it at restaurants just like I have. A whole family sitting, waiting for their food, all of them on their phones. Or couples, both of them on phones. Could we lose the art of connecting? Just because it’s easier not to?

Your kids need connection with you. You need to take the time to kiss their fluffy heads, and tuck them in at night. Even better to take 15 minutes to read to them before you turn out the light. Hug them. Look into their eyes. Your eyes show them their value. Show them love. Children spell love T I M E. And you have to start when they’re young before they start pushing away.

Even then, you can insist on eating together and actually talking about the day without criticism. Even then they need boundaries, not a lot but some, that are held, no matter how they manipulate you. Limits are how they feel loved too. “No” makes them feel secure. Someone besides me is in charge. I’m safe. 

We need connection. We were made for it. Relationship is our primary function. Our first full day after creation was Sabbath, a day set aside for celebrating our relationship with God. Clearly, it is our purpose. Scripture says it too. We were created to show God’s character of love by experiencing it in relationship with Him. (Ephesians 1:11)

Part of a simple life is connecting. It can be challenging to make the time, or to know what to say. Today, you have to be purposeful about it. You have to say “NO” to some things in order to have it. You have to say “no” to yourself, turn off the phone, the tablet, the laptop, the TV. Go outside, do something active with your spouse and kids. Active fun is bonding. And good for your body.

Simple is good, but it isn’t easy to get there. It’s just worth it.

Jesus said to his good friend, Martha, “Only one thing is necessary. You are worrying about many things, but Mary (her sister) has chosen the best (sitting and talking with Jesus) and I won’t take that away from her.”

One thing. Only one thing is really necessary. And it is relationship. Specifically relationship with God. But that love will spread to the people around you. Don’t know how to start? Ask. He is happy to help.

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Boundaries

So ISIS beheaded another 21 people–Egyptians–this week. In the name of God? I think not. The one before that was an American woman. Before that burning the Jordanian pilot. They are going for reaction and intimidation. Notice how tall their black-clad executioners are compared to their victims. They are going for fear. It brings up some important questions:

How could they possibly think a God who died for freedom would approve? Or is that why they hate Christians–because we believe in a God who died to guarantee our freedom? Are these guys so demented that they actually think God rules with force? The word demented has ties with “demon” –have they been so pounded on by people who were controlled by demons that their boundaries cracked and they allowed evil to take over?

Were they so powerless, so mistreated as children and became so angry or were so hurt that they chose evil in the form of revenge? They have attracted many such “demented” people. Do they all really think God is like them? Or is this just an excuse to act out their rage?

What caused them to feed such rage? Helplessness? Powerlessness?

Have they thrown off their ties to their own religion in order to vent their fury? Or are they really deluded into thinking they are acting righteously?

I’ve read their holy book, and it says over and over–more than anything else–that Allah is most gracious and most merciful! Where is their disconnect?

I love it when the things I’m thinking and the things I read converge.

I’ve been working on God’s conversation with Cain in Genesis 4 for weeks, and was thinking the above this morning, when I went to God Calling for today. It said to be more afraid of disturbance between God and us than anything.

“When you feel the absolute calm has been broken–away alone with Me until your heart sings, and all is strong and calm. These (disturbances) are the only times when evil can find an entrance. The forces of evil surround the city of man-soul, and are keenly alert for one such unguarded spot, through which an arrow can pierce and do havoc.”

He had my attention; this is just what He had said to Cain! Then He said something shocking! “Remember all that you have to do is to keep calm and happy. God does the rest.”

What? No word about choice? It is only implied, but what a choice it is! And I know you experience it–when someone treats you meanly or rudely, or worse, scares you to death. And you choose not to let their arrows, poisoned by the dark side, go in.

Is that even possible?

It is! Listen to the rest: “No evil force can hinder My Power–only you yourself have power to do that.”

I think the next words are going to be about choosing because that’s what He’s talking about. But no–the last line is, “Think when all God’s mighty forces are arrayed to aid you–and your poor, puny self impedes their onward march.” He’s talking about how our emotions like fear and hurt get triggered. grabbed, and we run away with the wolves instead of sounding the battle cry, “Onward! Fight!”

There is a fight, a holy war, going on, but it isn’t about us killing each other, it’s about us choosing calm or trust and letting God fight for us. God’s boundary is our freedom, our boundary is not hooking in, not letting ourselves get carried away by fear, or hurt, or desire for revenge  but knowing our Helper and choosing to use His forces.

Right after that I read Psalm 4 and it’s all about the same thing! Wow! The last line is “Now I will lie down in peace, and sleep; for thou alone, O Lord, makes me live unafraid.”

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