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Boundaries with Kids Leader's GuideWhen to Say Yes, When to Say No, to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives
By Henry Cloud John Townse
ZondervanCopyright © 2003 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSession One Building Character in Kids Before You Lead Key Points One goal of parenting is to keep an eye on the future. We are raising our children to be responsible adults. A person's character is one's destiny, and healthy boundaries can go far in developing character that will lead your children into the life God created them to have. A boundary is a "property line" that defines a person; it defines where one person ends and someone else begins. The parent or caretaker role consists of three main functions: guardian, manager, and source. A guardian is legally responsible for a child and, in that capacity, protects and preserves the child. A manager makes sure things get done-goals are reached, demands and expectations are met. Parents are the source of all good things (material and immaterial) for a child. They progressively give children the independence to obtain what they need on their own. Boundaries facilitate the process of having the child internalize things (feeling the need or motivation to take responsibility for himself, planning for and taking the time to act responsibly, developing the skills necessary to act responsibly) that were previously external to him. We want our children to be loving, responsible, free, initiating, respectful of reality, growing, oriented to truth, and oriented to transcendence. These eight qualities are important to adult functioning, and boundaries play an essential developmental role. Synopsis One goal of parenting is to keep an eye on the future. We are raising our children to be responsible adults. The issue in any parenting situation is this: Is what you are doing being done on purpose? Parenting has to do with more than the present. You are parenting your child for the future. A person's character is one's destiny, and healthy boundaries can go far in developing character that will lead your children into the life God created them to have. 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 that 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. 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? But how does this transformation occur? We believe that the parent or caretaker role consists of three main functions, that of guardian, manager, and source. A guardian is legally responsible for a child and, in that capacity, protects and preserves the child. In this capacity, parents set limits to freedom and then enforce them for the child's protection. Through this process, the child internalizes the limits as wisdom and slowly begins to be able to take care of herself. A manager makes sure things get done-that goals are reached, demands and expectations are met. Children are not born with self-discipline; therefore they have to be given "other-discipline." Boundaries play an important role in managing. Setting limits and requiring the child to take ownership (embracing the problem as his own) and responsibility (taking care of what he has embraced) entail a clear understanding of boundaries. Parents are the source of all good things (material and immaterial) for a child. They are the bridge to the outside world of resources that sustain life. In both giving and receiving resources, boundaries play an important role. As boundaries are learned, parents can progressively give children the independence to obtain what they need on their own. Boundaries facilitate the process of having the child internalize things (feeling the need or motivation to take responsibility for himself, planning for and taking the time to act responsibly, developing the skills necessary to act responsibly) that were previously external to him. As you take a stance of clear boundaries with children, they will have a better chance of gaining the motivation, the need, the skill, and the plan to live a loving, responsible, righteous, and successful life unto God and others. And this is what character is all about. We want our children to be loving, responsible, free, initiating, respectful of reality, growing, oriented to truth, and oriented to transcendence. These eight qualities are important to adult functioning, and boundaries play an essential developmental role. Seeing character building as a task of parenting can be overwhelming, but it cannot be stressed enough, as a child's character will determine much of the course his life takes. Session Outline (50 minutes) I. Introduction (10 minutes) A. Welcome (8 minutes) B. Overview (1 minute) C. Opening Prayer (1 minute) II. Discovery (39 minutes) A. Video Segment: Parenting with an Eye to the Future (5 minutes) B. Kid Talk: What's a Mom to Do? (10 minutes) C. Kid Kare: The Parent as Guardian, Manager, and Source (10 minutes) D. Video Segment: Eight Key Aspects of Character (6 minutes) E. Kid Kare: Cultivating Character (8 minutes) III. Wrap-up (1 minute) Recommended Reading "The Future Is Now" and "What Does Character Look Like?" chapters 1 and 2 in Boundaries with Kids. 10 MINUTES INTRODUCTION 9 minutes Welcome Call the group together and welcome the participants to Session 1 of Boundaries with Kids: Building Character in Kids. Introduce yourself: Tell the group your name and a little about yourself, including the role you play in kids' lives, the number of kids and grandkids you have, etc. To get to know each other a bit, please turn to page 11 of your Participant's Guide. There you'll see two questions I'd like each of you to answer briefly as we go around the room and introduce ourselves. Take 8 minutes to go around the room. Note: If the group is too big, have participants break into groups of three or four. 1 minute Overview Participant's Guide page 12. Note: On each facing right-hand page is a copy of the corresponding Participant's Guide page(s). Thanks! Now, let's talk a little bit about this course. It is based on Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend's best-selling book Boundaries with Kids. Hold up a copy of Boundaries with Kids. At this point you may wish to offer the book for sale as an additional resource or simply mention where a copy can be obtained. In these eight sessions, we are going to look at boundaries with kids. This course is designed to help you consider what boundaries are and the role they can play in building character in kids. In each session, you will be viewing two video segments in which you'll hear Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend teach key points from the book. You will discuss various topics as a large group. You will also meet together in small groups, and sometimes work alone on an exercise. Your Participant's Guide will help you stay focused and keep us moving through the material. Please turn to page 12. Today we'll be called to parent with an eye to the future. We'll also be introduced to the concept of boundaries and the way that parents-functioning as guardians, managers, and the source of good things-can use boundaries to give kids the motivation, the skills, and a plan for living a loving, responsible, and successful life unto God and others. Before we go any further, let's open with a word of prayer. 1 minute Opening Prayer Lord God, thank you for the privilege of being parents, the privilege of being involved in kids' lives. That wonderful privilege, however, carries with it not only much joy but lots of responsibility and countless challenges as well. We come before you today to ask for wisdom and creativity, for renewed hope and energy, as we consider how you might use us effectively in kids' lives. We look forward to what we'll learn and thank you in advance for blessing our efforts to be good stewards of the kids you have placed in our lives. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. 39 Minutes Discovery 5 minutes Video Segment: Parenting with an Eye to the Future Participant's Guide page 13-14 In the opening of this first video segment, you will hear Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend define boundaries, discuss the benefits of setting clear boundaries with kids, and outline three main capacities in which parents and caretakers function to develop self-control, responsibility, freedom, and love in kids. Turn to pages 13 and 14 and you'll see that the authors have listed the key points from the video segment so you don't have to take notes while you are watching. You can use these later to review what was covered. Now, let's take a look at our first video. View Video Segment: Parenting with an Eye to the Future 10 minutes Kid Talk: What's a Mom to Do? Participant's Guide pages 15-16 Let's discuss the situation we have just seen. Please turn to page 15 of your Participant's Guide. 1. Why didn't Cameron feel the need to clean up his room? What kept him from being motivated to clean up? Possible answers: Allison loved "helping" Cameron, and he had developed a pattern in which he felt entitled to everyone else's help. 2. Why didn't Cameron plan for or take the time to clean up? Why didn't he have the skill to organize his room? Possible answers: Cameron had never needed to plan for or take time to clean up. Allison had always helped him, and, consequently, he hadn't developed the necessary skills either. 3. In what other areas of life can parents inadvertently keep kids from taking responsibility for themselves? As you consider these specific examples, think about how you-like Allison-may be keeping your child from taking responsibility for himself. Possible answers: Homework, household chores, or meeting school deadlines. 4. What kind of boundaries could Allison establish for herself in order for her son to develop boundaries that would serve him well? Possible answers: Allison could give Cameron time limits for learning to take care of his belongings, outline what would happen if he did not learn, and stick to those consequences. 5. In what ways might you, like Allison, be parenting in the present without thinking about the future? Possible answers: Making excuses for your kids when they fail; covering for then when they miss a school deadline; lying for them. 6. What can we, as parents, do to keep an eye on the future? Possible answers: Pray and ask God to give us an awareness of how our actions today could be shaping tomorrow. Talk to parents of older kids to learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. 7. What possible courses of action could Allison take which would indicate that she has an eye on the future? Possible answers: Continue the program of boundaries and consequences for Cameron. Learn from other parents what they've done to raise responsible kids. Look at other aspects of her parenting to see where she is standing in the way of Cameron's independence. With Allison's example in our mind, let's now look at our own parenting and consider how well we're fulfilling the key roles of guardian, manager, and source. 10 minutes Kid Kare: The Parent as Guardian, Manager, and Source Participant's Guide pages 17-18. Please turn to page 17, where you will find the exercise The Parent as Guardian, Manager, and Source. Directions We will be doing this exercise in small groups of three or four people. Answer the questions within your group, giving each person an opportunity to share. You'll have 10 minutes to complete this exercise. Any questions? Let the participants know when there is 1 minute remaining. Call the group back together after 10 minutes. Who would like to share an experience from their group? Solicit answers from the groups. That's great! Now that we've had a chance to think about parenting with an eye on the future, let's take a look at the kind of character we want to develop in our children for that future. 6 minutes Video Segment: Eight Key Aspects of Character Remind the participants that key points of the video segment can be found on pages 19-21 of the Participant's Guide if they would like to review them at a later time. View Video Segment: Eight Key Aspects of Character. 8 minutes Kid Kare: Cultivating Character Participant's Guide pages 22-23 As we just discovered, character building is indeed a tall order! The exercise on pages 22-23 of your Participant's Guide attempts to break this process down into more manageable pieces. Directions On your own or with your spouse, you will have 10 minutes to begin working through the following questions. You will have a chance to complete this exercise and put it into action at home this week. Any questions? Let the participants know when there is 1 minute remaining. Call the group back together after 10 minutes. 1 minutes Wrap-up Before we close in prayer, please turn to pages 24-25 of your Participant's Guide. Each of our Boundaries with Kids sessions ends with a section called Kid Kare at Home. This section will provide you with an opportunity to put into action some of the ideas you've had as you've watched the videos and talked with others in the class. We'll take a few minutes at the beginning of each session to follow up on what some of you did at home so that we can learn from each other. Now let's close in prayer. Closing Prayer Almighty God, you call us to parent with an eye to the future and to serve as a guardian, manager, and source for our kids. You've chosen us to help our children become people who are loving, responsible, free, initiating, respectful of reality, growing, oriented to truth, and oriented to transcendence. We've heard that if we have good, clear boundaries with our children, they will have a better chance of gaining the motivation, the need, the skill, and the plan to live a loving, responsible, righteous, and successful life unto you and others.
Excerpted from Boundaries with Kids Leader's Guide by Henry Cloud John Townse Copyright © 2003 by Zondervan
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.