Read an Excerpt
The Future Is Now
• I (Dr. Cloud) was surprised to find Allison cleaning her fourteen-year-old son's room. When I said, "I just feel sorry for Cameron's future wife," Allison straightened up, froze for a moment, and then hurried from the room. After a few moments, she looked at me and said, "I've never thought about it that way."
-- In what ways might you, like Allison, be parenting in the present without thinking about the future?
-- What can you do to keep an eye on the future?
• A person's character is one's destiny. A person's character (his abilities and inabilities, his moral makeup, his functioning in relationships, and how he does tasks) largely determines how he will function in life (whether he does well in love and in work).
-- Look in the mirror. How has your character -- your strengths as well as your weaknesses -- determined how you have functioned in life? In love? In work?
-- What are some of the character strengths and weaknesses you already see in your children?
• If a person's character makeup determines his future, then child rearing is primarily about helping children to develop character that will take them through life safely, securely, productively, and joyfully. A major goal of raising children is to help them develop the character that will make their future go well.
-- What character traits have served you well in your adult years? What do you remember your parents and other significant adults doing to encourage those traits?
-- Had they been strengthened as you were growing up, what character traits would have benefited you in your adult years? What are you doing to strengthen those traits now?
• What wake-up call does Allison's experience offer you? As you consider your child's future, what element of your parenting (if any) do you now recognize as sowing seeds for character weakness?
The future is now. When you are a parent, you help create a child's future. The patterns children establish early in life (their character) they will live out later. And character is always formed in relationship. We can't overestimate your role in developing this character. As Proverbs says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (22: 6).
Preventive Medicine (page 16)*
• 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 grownups. They had learned patterns early in life and then continued those out-of-control patterns in their adult lives, where the stakes were higher.
-- Review the list of boundary problems found on pages 16 - 17. Which of them, if any, have been problems for you during your adult years?
-- What seeds for these out-of-control patterns in your adult life do you see as you look back on your childhood?
• Parents began to ask for this book. They knew the pain they had been through and did not want their children to go through the same kind of learning curve. Basically, they wanted answers to three questions.
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 that my children will not have the problems with boundaries that I have had?
-- Which of these three questions states your greatest concern?
-- What other questions, if any, do you hope to have answered by Boundaries with Kids?
We want to help you answer your questions and help your children develop the character that will lead them into the life that God created them to have.
Children Are Not Born with Boundaries (page 17)
A boundary is a "property line" that defines a person; it defines where one person ends and someone else begins. If we know where a person's boundaries are, we know what we can expect this person to take control of: himself or herself. We can require responsibility in regard to feelings, behaviors, and attitudes.
• A child needs to know where she begins, what she needs to take responsibility for, and what she does not need to take responsibility for. If she grows up in relationships where she is confused about her own boundaries (what she is responsible for) and about others' boundaries (what they are responsible for), she does not develop the self-control that will enable her to steer through life successfully.
-- What relationships during your childhood, if any, caused you confusion about your boundaries, and what you were really responsible for?
-- What relationships, if any, in your children's life might be causing them confusion about their boundaries and about what they are really responsible for?
• Children internalize boundaries from external relationships and discipline. In order for children to learn who they are and what they are responsible for, their parents have to have clear boundaries with them and relate to them in ways that help them learn their own boundaries.
-- What might your child be learning about boundaries from their significant external relationships? From the kinds of discipline they receive?
-- How clear are your boundaries? Chapter 3 -- "Kids Need Parents with Boundaries" -- will help, but the Boundaries book and workbook would be a great help, too.
When boundaries are clear, children develop a well-defined sense of who they are and what they are responsible for; the ability to choose; the understanding that if they choose well, things will go well and if they choose poorly, they will suffer; and the possibility of true love based in freedom. Self-control, responsibility, freedom, and love -- what could be a better outcome of parenting than that?