Posted on

Boundaries…. An electric fence or a circle of light?

Like many parents, I’m pretty appalled at the time that my kid is spending face to face with a screen ATM. 🤢 But the tablet is keeping him occupied and out of trouble for extended periods of time, so I’m also grateful for it.

‘Fishing World’ is currently flavour of the month, and last weekend my son learned that it isn’t necessary to wait to ‘unlock’ the next location, somewhere deep in Amazon basin.
No, you can actually fast-track it. Or, more accurately, I can, because it’s me who gets to pay for the privilege; anywhere between 69p and £55.
I like to think I’m not too strict a parent and, coupled with little motivation to fall out with him-again!-I confess that I caved (twice).

IMO, this is a deeply unethical feature of children’s technology; especially because he (or more accurately, we) are now being bombarded with relentless pop-ups offering ‘half-price gold, expires in 2 hours’…. but that’s for another blog post.

The point is, I’m now going through the tedious process of establishing my boundary on this; Saying no, no, no, despite the pleas, the promises, tears of actual devastation.
I am (of course) accused of being a ‘bad mother’, told I’m unfair, and have heard “it’s only 69p mum” countless times.

Still, I don’t regret surrendering; There aren’t many highlights in a socially-distanced world for a 7 year old only-child, and on both occasions where I coughed up my hard-earned 69p, it brought him so much joy, you’d have thought I’d announced we were actually going to Brazil to catch Sawfish in real life.
But it is such HARD WORK. Yesterday I felt like crying with him. Implementing boundaries can be far more challenging than we care to admit, especially now, while we have so many battles to choose from…

I am a big advocate for boundaries; They ensure children know what to expect from us. When children push against them, it can feel like disobedience or confrontation, but it’s natural & healthy. It’s their way of checking that they are as secure as we say.

But when kids challenge, we can feel defensive, especially now while most of us are at the end of our tether already. Let’s be honest, inviting the kids we live or work or work with into a discourse about ‘why no means no’ is hardly on the top on our to-do list right now. 

So, whether you’re living kids them or working with them, in the moments when they test you, hold in mind that  this is a child who can think independently, instead of just going along with whatever they’re told.
This is how young people behave when they have the motivation to question, and the courage to challenge what doesn’t feel fair (and we definitely need more of that in the world!)

And, if we can catch the opportunity to teach it; instead of refusing to budge or bend, just a little; they can learn the art of negotiation & compromise.

💥“Your boundary need not be an angry electric fence that shocks those who touch it” 💥