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Monday, April 25, 2011

Parents: Do you set boundaries? Tell me how!

According to John Rosemond, the problem with parents today is that they have no boundaries. He speaks mainly of mothers, claiming that they have trouble saying 'no'. Rosemond believes that "the biggest problem in American parenting today is the lack of a physical or emotional boundary between parent and child, and especially mother and child.”

I'm trying to be offended, but the trouble is I think he's right. I'm not sure why it is - maybe it's the constant societal pressure to raise top-notch versatile geniuses - but many moms today have trouble allowing themselves a life outside of their motherhood role. The focus of everything they do is on the children. I'm guilty of this at least from time to time.

Sometimes I get it right. My recent discussion of how I'm protecting 'quiet time' (see Quiet Time: A Welcome Daily Ritual) is an example of one way that I'm creating boundaries.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artfullysew/sets/72157623881015959/

As one of five kids, I didn't get a lot of attention from mom. She was there. She looked after my basic needs and spent a good amount of time educating me. But she didn't entertain me, and she took time for herself. I have very distinct and numerous memories of her sitting on the family room couch and, on nice days, a lounger in her bathing suit reading a book. I also remember her taking out several books from the library at a time. Mom was an avid reader.

Well, here I am, a mother and lover of books, complaining frequently about not having enough time to myself to read. Rosemond, a family psychologist, says clients complain to him all the time that their children won't leave them alone. The child, he says, is not the problem. The parent is the problem and the solution is in their hands.

It's amazing the guilt we moms feel if we're not meeting our child's every need. I've been sick with a cold for the past week and a half - Jack too, which means we've been home... together... all day long... for a whole week. I was too tired to be Jack's playmate for the duration, so we watched a little more TV than usual. It was all excellent educational programming, but I felt guilty nonetheless. I talked myself out of that eventually and decided to give myself a break. After all, Jack was well cared for and happy. At least on sick days, that is an appropriate measure of success.

In February, I asked the question, Do you Take Time for Yourself Each Day? Most of us are making some time for ourselves, but there's still room for improvement. My challenge as a stay-at-home mom with many other interests besides mommyhood, is to take time for myself without the guilt. I'm grateful to John Rosemond today for giving me one more good reason to do so.

If you'd like to read more of Rosemond's blunt but thought-provoking article, you can find it here: http://www.sunherald.com/2011/04/23/3050672/the-problem-with-parents-today.html

Care to share your thoughts on this topic? How do you set boundaries?


  1. I'm struggling with this, but I am trying to do that now...I've joined a book club (and failed to read the book...TWICE); I'm trying to join the local quilting guild (haven't had time to make it to a meeting yet); and on the hunt for something else for "me." Mostly, I'm just content to get through the day with none of us having a meltdown. ;)

  2. I laughed at your last comment, Heather. I can relate! It makes me think of how my standards have changed since having a child. Success used to mean a lot of things to me, and now is as simple as you say - no meltdowns.

    I have also signed up for many things that I couldn't make it to. I recently picked up knitting again, and have been taking on smaller projects - mitts, slippers - so that I don't end up with another huge task that I have to schedule. I can work on these small projects for 5 minutes here and there, and before long have something to show for it.

    Good luck finding that something that's 'just for you'!