In my quest to sidle up alongside Jesus to do a good job of raising my girls, I thought I should do a little reading, so I'd know what to do. I thought this was a good idea, since I'm the enforcer, and Jesus isn't the one telling the girls to, "Sit on your bottom on the couch," 27 times a day. Although, I really wish he would. I bet they'd listen him.
Anyway. We all come to parenting with "stuff", right?
The therapist in me thinks it's a good idea to know what your "stuff" is and to stare it right in the face, maybe smack it around when it tries to get cheeky.
The wife/mama/sister/daughter in me really wants to do that, but it's really hard to face your "cheeky stuff" sometimes; it's much easier to run away and deny plausibility.
Well, the therapist in me won. I don't want to let Jesus down, after all. So, a friend lent me the book, and I've read it (I know, an amazing feat with twins--tell me about it!).
So, here's what I've learned about myself and my boundaries: I often feel responsible for other people's feelings. Mostly, the negative ones.
It's crazy. It's actually really difficult for me to be around people when they are quietly upset/angry/frustrated, because I feel like it must, somehow, be my fault. So, when my husband seems upset, he has to hear me ask, "Is everything alright? Did I do something?" about 43 times (which is even more times than I ask the girls to sit down on the couch). Good thing he's such a patient guy.
Boundaries are not walls. And boundaries are a good thing!
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts. ~Proverbs 4:23So, our quest, me and Jesus, is to help our girls not to inherit this "cheeky stuff" of mine.
Feelings are each person's own responsibility, no one else's.
I've had the chance to practice this recently, and I can't tell you how freeing it is to be around someone who is upset, and not feel responsible. The twisting in my stomach, the worry, the anxiety---gone! Ah! Thank you, Jesus!
I try hard to practice this in parenting. I don't want my girls to feel responsible for my, or anyone else's feelings.
One example the book gave of inadvertently teaching this was: a relative of a little boy asked a him sit on their lap, because they were sad, and told the him that if he would sit there for a bit, it would make person happy. Thus, teaching the child that he was responsible for his relative's happiness.
This played out for me the other day. I was going out of town for the day, and as I was getting ready to leave, the girls were playing, and having a good time with their papa. They were uninterested in saying goodbye to me, and said no to hugs and kisses that would interrupt their fun with Papa.
You know what? I was okay with that! If my girls don't want to be hugged or kissed or picked up or to sit on my lap, that's 100% okay. That's their boundary.
Truth be told, I was actually kind of proud. It means that, so far, Jesus and I are doing our job.
I want to teach Brynne and Hadley that they are responsible for their own bodies and their own feelings. They can say "no" to anyone, anytime if it's not something that they are comfortable or even just interested in doing (exceptions are when it's a discipline or a safety issue).
Conversely, my prayer is that those around them will respect their "nos". Whether it's boys when the girls are 22 and finally allowed to date (okay, okay, maybe 21), or relatives who come to visit them at 16.5 months.
When I left for the day, and didn't give or receive hugs and kisses, that was okay, because--It's not about me. It was about the girls, and their right, their boundary to say "no". I'm not responsible for their "no"---they are. What I am responsible, is for the way I handle their "no". I took a deep breath, smiled, waved and walked out the door.
When I got home? I was showered with hugs and kisses! Best. Homecoming. Ever.