The older I get, the more I realize how important boundaries are. If you are like me and had your boundaries violated often growing up, then you likely know how detrimental that can be to your relationships in adulthood.
Honestly, learning more about boundaries (both honoring the boundaries of others and establishing firm boundaries of my own) has changed my life. On the topic of boundaries, I feel it’s important to mention that teaching boundaries start early on in life. It’s so important to honor your child’s boundaries and encourage them to assert their boundaries and honor the boundaries of others. By doing so, you will do them a great favor.
What better way to do this than to make sure that you aren’t violating their boundaries. Unfortunately, you likely have, and while you cannot undo what has happened, you can change moving forward. Knowledge is power, and you are in a good place for a new and fresh start. Here are 9 ways parents (unintentionally) violate their child’s boundaries.
1. Forcing them to show affection.
A lot of us encountered this growing up, so it’s natural for us to do this with our kids. There is this age-old and generation concept that when kids don’t hug someone they are being rude. But, the thing is, if your child doesn’t want to hug Aunt Jo, or Uncle Jack because they simply don’t feel like being affectionate, that does not make them rude. And to force them to hug them despite how they feel is a violation of their personal space.
This is another well-intentioned behavior that can go wrong. Hovering (helicopter parenting) is what happens when a parent stands over their child at all times, cleaning up every speck of dirt that touches their skin, and correcting every move they make. Children need room to grow and to experience life. Hovering has been shown in studies to cause kids to end up with massive anxiety later on. And not to mention how dependent they are likely to become when their parent is always hoarding them.
3. Shaming their emotions.
Emotional invalidation is a violation of boundaries, I don’t care what you say. How would you feel if you felt sad and someone told you to “Stop being so emotional! Grow up!” It wouldn’t make you feel very nice, and it wouldn’t benefit you in any way. Additionally, it wouldn’t make your difficult emotions go away, either. Doing this to children, who are still learning how to manage their emotions, is not good for them at all.
Say what you will, but look around us. The previous generations who have been in charge for eons were spanked and beaten to pulp their whole lives, and the world around us is crumbling. Just because you are “just fine” and your parents spanked you doesn’t mean it’s right. But that’s a whole other article. Regardless, it’s a definite violation of boundaries to slap or smack or spank your child.
5. Forcing them to do something.
I am not saying that if your child doesn’t want to brush their teeth or take a bath or eat their veggies you shouldn’t make them. What I am saying, is that if they don’t want to get on the Ferris wheel because it terrifies them, or they don’t want to play basketball because it isn’t something they care about, you shouldn’t force them to do it.
6. Holding your child responsible for your emotions.
Examples of this are, “You are making me so angry!!” While you may think that your child is responsible for how you feel, the truth is, they are only responsible for their actions, not how you respond.
7. Discuss adult things with your child.
It always made me exceedingly uncomfortable when my friend’s parents would discuss their sex life with us or their finances. Something about it just felt….wrong. There is a reason for that though, adults are not supposed to share these things with their kids or with kids at all.
8. Speaking badly about their other parent.
No matter how you feel about your husband or wife, keep it to yourself. DO NOT share that “daddy is a lazy scumbag” with your child. Why? Because that is their father.
9. Engaging in negative self-talk in front of them.
And don’t talk about yourself badly, either. Not only does it model bad habits that they will likely follow, but it also is a violation of their boundaries, because they love you!