Since writing Boundaries in 1992, we (Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend) have spoken to more than a million people about creating boundaries in their lives. Thousands have told us that creating boundaries has enabled them to love and to live better, some for the first time. Nothing is more exciting than to see people grow and change.
But from our own experience and that of our audiences and readers, one thing became obvious to us. Adults with boundary problems had not developed those problems as grown-ups. They had learned patterns early in life and then continued those out-of-control patterns in their adult lives, where the stakes were higher. They had learned the following boundary problems as youngsters:
- Inability to say no to hurtful people or set limits on hurtful behavior from others
- Inability to say no to their own destructive impulses
- Inability to hear no from others and respect their limits
- Inability to delay gratification and accomplish goals and tasks
- Tendency to be attracted to irresponsible or hurtful people and then try to “fix” them
- Taking responsibility for other people’s lives
- Ability to be easily manipulated or controlled
- Struggles with intimacy and maintaining closeness with others
- Inability to be honest with those they are close to
- Inability to confront others and resolve conflicts productively
- Experiencing life as a victim instead of living it purposefully with a feeling of self-control
- Addictions and compulsions
- Disorganization and lack of follow-through
So we began to think preventively. We love helping adults with boundary problems that have gone on for years, but we also want to help children avoid experiencing what many of us had to go through to repair boundary deficits. This realization led us to write Boundaries with Kids.
Most of the adults we encountered had well-intentioned parents. But many times these parents had had no clue about how to build boundaries into their children; thus they passed on their own limited boundary functioning. Had many of these parents known how to raise a child with good boundaries, much pain could have been prevented. We want to help you develop the kind of character in your children that will prevent many problems with which adults struggle.
In addition, parents knew the pain they had been through and did not want their children to go through the same kind of learning curve. It is better for a child to lose privileges than for an adult to lose a marriage or a career. Furthermore, they realized that boundaries are a key to making any relationship work, and they wanted to know how to live out the principles of boundaries with their children. Their questions can be grouped into three basic areas:
- How do I teach boundaries to children?
- How do I enforce my own boundaries with my children in appropriate ways?
- How can I ensure my children won’t have the problems with boundaries that I had?
As you explore Boundaries with Kids, we will help you answer these questions and help your children develop the character that will lead them into the life that God created them to have.