Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hypothetically Speaking

Probably the best illustration of the positive effects of boundaries, is raising children. Healthy boundaries produce healthy children. You set the boundaries, and when the child tries to cross them, and they will, you apply discipline to correct the behavior. Some children willingly comply while others test the boundaries regularly. One is not better than the other, it's a matter of their personality and make up. The important thing is that the boundaries stay in place regardless of the child so that each is benefited equally.

Again the key is healthy boundaries. These are boundaries that allow the child to learn, grow, and take on age appropriate responsibility in a safe environment. We've all seen the effects of unhealthy boundaries; "I'm going to count to three, four, five..." It's the classic "child run" household. The parents revolve around the child instead of the child revolving around the parents. This sets up a major disconnect concerning authority. Healthy boundaries say that you respect the authority over you, regardless of what you want to do. If a child won't obey their parents, how will they obey their boss?

Another goal of boundaries is to allow the child to learn responsibility as they grow. The older they become the more responsibility they take on to help with the daily functions of the family in the home. Holding them accountable to do certain taks/chores gives them a sense of accomplishment and adds to their self-esteem. It teaches them that hard work produces rewards both internal and external. This sets them up to have a desire to work hard and pull their weight in a much larger family, society.

If the child does not experience this challenge to "become" a strong man or woman, if there are no boundaries and discipline as they grow, then a very damaging belief system sets in...entitlement. The child learns that mom and dad don't really mean what they say. I can get away with whatever I want if I just act out, or cry, or tug on the heart strings. They "say" these are the rules, but they don't really mean it.

What would happen if a whole generation of children grew up with this sense of entitlement? How would they react to authority? How would they treat the "rules" of society?

Hypothetically, what if you had a society (family) that had strong parents who cared enough about the well being of their children to set healthy boundaries in place that would promote healthy growth of that societies children? Boundaries that promoted the well being of all and used discipline as a means to stop destructive behavior. Then a generation of children without respect for authority or the rules of that authority would most definitely tear that system down in an effort to "get their way", and they would use whatever means necessary to manipulate the environment around them to best benefit them. There is no equality because it's all about me. You work hard and I'll take from you because I'm entitled to it. You do the work and I'll reap the rewards.

I hope we never find ourselves in this "hypothetical" situation.