April 14, 2009

In a number of recent conversations with new mother friends the issue of boundaries has come up.  Specifically: the ways in which family members fail to respect the boundaries we set up as new parents. 

One friend recounted how her sister-in-law told her that her one-year-old son’s reluctance to jump into his aunt’s arms as soon as he arrived at her house and instead wanted to stay with his mom while he got used to his new surroundings was a sign that he is a “mama’s boy” (this, by the way, occurred while she ripped him out of his mother’s arms and carried him away crying).  Another told me of a mother-in-law who insisted on secretly feeding her grandson foods he was not ready to eat which landed him in the hospital.  

When we hear these stories it is so easy to counsel talking back, standing your ground, and, if necessary, cutting people off.  And yet none of us do.  Why is that? Why is it that strong, straight-forward, feminist women who are very capable of sticking up for ourselves suddenly don’t want to rock the boat?  Is it that because we are unsure of our parenting abilities we let these people get into our heads and mess with us?  Is it that we are so anxious not to lose what support we have that we are willing to put up with more than we should?

Whatever it is, the thing I have been realizing recently is that we have to step it up and protect those boundaries.  There are two reasons I think that this is immensly important:

  1.  Because if we don’t protect the boundaries now, it will fall on onto our kids later as they become more and more aware of the tensions that exist.  And who wants to put that on their kid?  
  2. I worry that if I don’t set a good example for my kids, then they won’t learn themselves how important boundaries are throughout life.  

So I, for one, am going to work on becoming the mama bear.  I am gong to sharpen my claws on some trees, practice my growl, and get ready for any showdown that may come my way.  GROWL!


One Response to “Boundaries”

  1. alyssa Says:

    amen to this…

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