Discussing Boundaries

It can seem like most of the “talking” about boundaries you do is battling with your children over curfews or other rules you’ve set. But it is possible to have calm, insightful conversations about the boundaries your family has—and it can be a great way to get your child’s input on your household rules and expectations. Try a few of the following conversation starters.

  • How does our family compare to others in regard to discipline? This discussion can help you explain why you hold the values you do and how those values inform the boundaries you’ve set.
  • Is our family too lenient, too harsh, or just right in enforcing boundaries? Why? By asking for your child’s honest opinion, you can open the door to a discussion that will offer insight into what your child thinks about your family’s rules, and give you the opportunity to discuss them at length.
  • What important lessons have you learned after breaking a rule? This is a good time to talk about the boundaries you had when you were young, and the lessons you learned after violating one.
  • Which values do you think our family’s boundaries express? By helping your child understand your reasons behind the boundaries you’ve set, you can help her understand that you don’t set boundaries to limit her, but to help her grow into a healthy, caring, and responsible adult.

Your child may not always be open to calmly discussing your family’s boundaries, but it’s very beneficial to talk about what’s working and what’s not. Really listen to what your kid has to say, and think about what you can do to set boundaries that not only keep your child safe but are fair to everyone involved.