Adults Without Boundaries Raise Kids Without Boundaries

BoundariesSince 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:

  1. How do I teach boundaries to children?
  2. How do I enforce my own boundaries with my children in appropriate ways?
  3. 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.


Click here to read a sample chapter and learn more about Boundaries with Kids.

Get The 10 Laws of Boundaries eBook when you subscribe to the Boundaries Weekly email newsletter. Learn More


  1. says

    I so appreciate how you can make boundaries seem simple. Your examples are very helpful in implementing what I didn’t learn as a child. Thanks for the Boundaries with Kids book! I’ve read and reread it, and encouraged my friends to put it into action in their parenting.

  2. Cristina says

    I want to thank you so much, these are life changing resource. I wish you can have all boundaries books in spanish. Thank you

  3. Linda says

    Your bulleted list outlines classic codependency!

    I’m so glad your books exist. It takes a long time to overcome these issues, at least for me. In my own recovery from codependency, I like to use your Boundaries for Kids book for re-parenting myself. I don’t have children and I’m so glad to have stopped the cycle with me. My sister (and her kids), not quite so lucky.

    Thanks again for your life-changing work. The body of Christ SO needs this!

    • Rebecca says

      Thank you for your work and your commitment to helping people, especially the Church. I wish I had read and understood your books much sooner. My children are grown, and while our family does care about one another. There is SO much pain because of a lack of boundaries my husband I experienced as children. We all barely talk to one another. Thank you again. Please keep up the good work.

  4. Diana says

    I can just say thank you. We all want to be better parents. Sometimes we do not know how and we feel we need to do things differently.But it always starts with me. This article is printed and read daily to remember:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *