Boundaries: Who Needs Them?



I tell students they will never outgrow their need for boundaries and the sooner they learn to establish and maintain them the easier it will be for them to do so later in life.

Unfortunately, many students are not being given boundaries at home when they are younger, making it more difficult for them to establish and maintain them for themselves when they become teenagers (or when they are adults for that matter).

This junior is a perfect example of that:

The one thing that has really stuck out is the need to set boundaries in a dating relationship. This is a challenge for me because I have not had any boundary lines in my life. Everything you said has encouraged me to set boundaries for the first time in my life.

How sad that at 16/17 years old, this young lady had to figure out how to do something that she should have been doing all her life—setting boundaries!

If you have younger children and have not understood the importance of setting boundaries for your children or taught them to do so for themselves, I hope the above letter serves as a wake-up call for you.

In the words of Dr. David Walsh in his book, NO: Why Kids—of All Ages—Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It:

I’m urging you to take a strong parental stance with your children because they depend on you to help them learn to manage their desires so that someday they can do it effectively for themselves.

The reward for saying no comes when our kids are the adults who know when to say no and when to say yes to themselves; who can delay gratification in order to accomplish greater achievements. No is not the goal. It is the road to Yes.

Speaking of adults—I would venture to say most adults would probably say their greatest regrets in life, whether relationally, financially, morally, ethically, etc., could have been avoided if they had managed their boundaries better. And in many cases, they may not have managed them better when they were adults because they were not in the practice of maintaining appropriate boundaries when they were younger.

Do you see why it is so important to establish this habit at a young age?

When should teens establish boundaries pertaining to relationships?

I encourage students to establish their boundaries before they enter a dating relationship. If they wait until they are in a dating relationship to establish them, their boundaries will be based on how they feel about their girlfriend/boyfriend instead of how they feel about themselves.

The letter below is from a young lady who realized during my presentation the importance of setting boundaries in advance:

Over the years I have thought about what I would do in a situation of pressure, and I’ve never come to a conclusion. Your presentation made me realize that I need to make up my mind, I need to set boundaries, I need to find goals, or a “yes” to look forward to in life. Thank you for everything. You changed my perspective about sex, relationships, and my future.

Not only did she realize that she needed to set boundaries in advance, but she also embraced another important message I share with students—the importance of setting goals and finding their “YES.”  Click here to read the “Just Say YES” blog post.

I would love to never get another letter from a high school student stating that he or she has never had any boundary lines in his or her life. You can help me reach that goal by sharing this post with every parent you know, especially parents of small children.

If we have any hope of reducing the number of teens having sex, we cannot continue expecting teens to set boundaries as teens when they did not have them as young children.  Feel free to share this post via email, snail mail, facebook, twitter, linkedin, telephone, telegraph, etc… I’m sure you get the point! wink

The target audience for this blog is parents and/or other adults who work with youth. If you think any of the youth in your life would benefit from reading my posts, please share the posts with them. This post is one I think would be appropriate to share with the youth in your life.

What are some boundaries that you think are important for parents to establish for their children or for themselves for that matter? I would love for you to share your thoughts below.

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