Rules, Boundaries and Limitations
Mention the name Cesar Millan and practically everyone will say, "oh yeah, he's the dog whisperer." In the height of Cesar's television days, I watched each of his shows with rapt attention, trying to figure out how to curb the minor but irritating issues our rescued Labrador exhibited. His message was super clear; the issue did not lie with the pet but rather with its owner.
My favorite saying by Cesar was that all animals need to have rules, boundaries and limitations. Humans are no exception. I think it's funny to note that setting clear rules and limitations by humans, whether for their human children or pets, are often felt to be in direct contrast to love. Disobedient children, just like disobedient dogs lack rules, boundaries and limitation. Parents need to understand the cause of the chaos in their homes, and regain control of their unruly children by losing the thought that they are hurting them by doing so. Rules and boundaries actually equal love and are perceived by children and animals as such. And to be clear, setting rules, boundaries and limitations does not mean that you will limit or stunt their creative sides either. It simply means they must learn to operate inside an acceptable set of rules that guide the family community and the community at large. Any community, city or state without rules and regulations soon experiences chaos.
In essence, parents who do not set rules, boundaries and limitations because they do not want to hurt their children are in fact doing exactly that when they do not set clear and concise rules of behavior for their children to live by.
Another quote from Cesar I love is “Discipline isn't about showing a dog who's boss; it's about taking responsibility for a living creature you have brought into your world.” Substitute the word dog with child(ren) and the same statement holds true.
Rules, boundaries and limitations are so important but are no longer being set and implemented into every day child rearing. Parenting is so much more than making sure your children have material things. It is also about setting rules, boundaries and limitations so that the children themselves know where they stand. This also allows the child to find self-order and comfort in knowing what is expected of them. There are always going to be times when rules get broken, but loving redirection can set them quickly back on track.
In my opinion, parents need to parent and stop trying so hard to be their kids' friend. There will be time enough for that when they are adults. You can be friendly with them for sure, but being friendly should not be confused with being their friend. Show the life that you brought into this world that you love them enough to guide them. Give them the opportunity to reach their potential by limiting what can throw them so off balance. Give them a firm foundation. It is easy to do by setting clear rules, boundaries and limitations now.