This is something I think about all the time. How many clients have sat opposite me telling me about their parent’s authoritative stance. The lack of collaboration, and instead have received harsh instruction.
Rather than creating a human who is able to know themselves, know their self worth, use their voice, trust those in authority and most importantly turn to their parent in times of difficulty; they create a hyper vigilant person. A person who lives in survival mode terrified of stepping a foot out of line but who has no idea where that line is.
They create someone who internalises and hides their thoughts and feelings, especially when they contradict those of a parent. They create someone who relies on other people to tell them they are ‘good enough’ rather than knowing it within their own core belief system.
They value the beliefs, emotions, needs of others before their own. And that requires a TON of therapy to overcome.
Don’t get me wrong. Boundaries in parenting are vital. But there’s a huge difference between telling a child what their boundaries should be, and allowing them to develop and discover their own.
Helping children develop boundaries starts when they’re tiny. Allowing them to make choices and to say no to their caregiver. Allowing them to say what they need and hearing and considering it before accepting or rejecting it.
That also means modelling good boundaries for them too. Showing them what it is to have and to hold a boundary around self worth/respect/esteem allows them the knowledge that they can do the same too.
By doing so we can teach our children to leave us, and to do so with a knowledge they will be okay in the world.
Equipping children with roots and wings is the most important thing parents can do.
By giving a child autonomy, the courage to leave the comfort of home, and the knowledge of their place being held there is the greatest gift you can give a child.
And we achieve that through minding our own boundaries and teaching them to find theirs too.