Enforcing limits or loving?

A couple years ago, as I went outside to get a bag out of the garage, I asked my 3 y.o daughter to stay inside because it was cold out there. Of course, being the spirited and self-directed girl that she is, she walks right to the door and opens it, standing there with presence and assurance. I laughed at the situation and the thought that I would try to “enforce the limit” What was there to enforce? This way of thinking would lead me into a power struggle with her and we would be off to a disconnected start. Instead, I looked at her and smiled. Smiled at her feisty spirit, her courage, perseverance, and clarity about who she is and what she wants. She is such a strong girl and I am so grateful that my eyes were open to her soul in this moment.

I can look back and remember many moments when I thought I needed to “maintain the limit” because that is what every parent is told. I also felt this was important b/c in my counseling experience, I had seen many parents who were inconsistent with limits and the resulting anxiety that this created in the whole family. There is great truth in that we need to be guides for our children, setting clear boundaries around health and safety. Yet there is a gentle and respectful way to do this.

First, I must move out of trying to parent “right” from my mind and move back into the heart. When I am in my heart, I am fully present with myself in the moment, reminding myself that I am whole and connected to my intuition and spiritual connection, the true source of any parenting wisdom. As I rest in this knowing, I relax and move into the Joy of being here with these two souls, the tremendous blessing that this journey of life and love is.

I see myself as a steward and guide for these two souls that have chosen to share life with me. From this point of view, I explain the necessary limits couched in my love for them. “I love you and want to keep you safe so you must stay away from the street where the busy cars speed by so fast” “I love you and choose to feed your body healthy food so you can grow big and strong”

When there is conflict, I ask my heart (and God) to open my eyes to the truth of the situation and the loving response. This helps me to see that, though I am responsible for my children “they are not your children” as Kahlil Gibran reminded us. They are sparks of God, just as we are, equal in every way. With this clarity, I open to flexibility, negotiation, working toward win-win situations where we all have our needs met. Sometimes the limit does need to be enforced and sometimes it does not, you will know if you connect to the heart and spiritual guidance that is always available to you.

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