As a father of two wholly unique daughters, I have observed some of the most curious behavior. Behavior that can move me and my wife from precious tears of fondness to wondering why we had children, and every form of befuddlement in between. And sometimes that behavior is out of bounds. And that’s okay.
Don’t get me wrong – our girls are a blessing. No question. They bring life to an entirely new level you wouldn’t think possible. But it takes some understanding if we as parents are to guide them into the adults we want them to be.
I’m referring to the key formative years between 2 and 10 when there is an incredible amount of development happening. Physical growth, mental growth, and learning how to learn. This is a period of exploration for them. Recall that everything in their world is a FIRST TIME experience. So with no frame of reference and no prior experience to lean on, their options are to see what happens or to receive guidance from those who know better – namely us their parents.
And that puts the burden on us as adults to curate their experience, keeping them safe from harm but allowing what we can so we don’t stifle their creativity.
Think about it – the view from a child’s perspective. What an awesome position to be in to see the world with a clear, neutral conscience! No prior experiences there to alter the expected outcomes. Anything and everything is possible. Why and why not are perfectly valid when starting from scratch. And of course that will lead to some out of the box thinking, but we should view it as a welcome challenge. Not just a challenge for them to follow our logic, but a challenge for we the parents to consider how we are living our lives based on past results rather than future possibilities.
Our job is to define the boundaries of their exploration of this world. Their job is to find those boundaries. So don’t be surprised or offended when they do. In fact, like a political line on a map, be open to negotiating that boundary. Rethink why that boundary is there: based on what you have experienced before, or some irrefutable law of physics?
Don’t climb so high up in that tree? Check, physics wins every time.
But don’t pet that duck because it might startle you? I’d let them figure that one out on their own.
I believe we have all witnessed that one “other kid’s” parent(s); you know, the hover mom or the present-but-not dad. The ones that don’t let their kids out to play for fear of tripping on the grass, or the ones who just assume their child made it home and in bed prior to…tomorrow.
Where are you on this spectrum? Are you giving your child the freedom to explore while providing healthy boundaries? That is just great if you are. And if you feel like you lean one way or the other – it’s never to late for a course correction. Just make sure to sit down with you child and let them know there is a change happening and why and what the new boundary is.
So consider those boundaries on a regular basis. Are they more for you or for your child?
About the Author
Craig Jaschke is a husband, a father of 2 daughters, and the founder of Duwut, helping people activate their dreams into reality through curated Action Funnels. More than 40 years of experience across the globe means a lot to offer. From Louisiana to Alaska and 40 states and several countries in between, his breadth of cultural exposure has highlighted a oneness to humanity. From SCUBA diving below the surface of the ocean to piloting aircraft in the skies above, his sense of adventure is always infectious to those around him.
If you're looking for more information on this topic, Craig recommends the book Growing Kids God's Way. Happy Reading!