The decisions that we make today will affect us tomorrow. For some, those decisions will have devastating effects. For others, not so much. But there is really no way to tell how the decisions the people we love make will affect them, and us, in future. In a way, the effects of decisions are like COVID-19. We understand the disease is out there. We know we can catch it, but we do not know how it might affect us. Some of us will not show any symptoms even after we get it, but others may die from it.
So as parents, we want to protect our children. We want to teach them to take precautions. Even if they catch the coronavirus disease- in a manner of speaking-it won’t be because we didn’t take all the necessary precautions. How do we prepare them so that today’s decisions will not have adverse effects on them tomorrow?
Setting Boundaries for Better Decision Making
One of the best ways to help our children make the best decisions is to teach them the importance of boundaries. What are boundaries? Let’s go back to the COVID-19 illustration. We have learnt to set boundaries for ourselves when with others: we wear a mask, and maintain proper social distancing. Of course, we avoid shaking hands or hugging people. These are all examples of boundaries. So what boundaries do we teach our children? In a word, decency.
We live in a world where the lines between right and wrong are blurred. Things that were considered despicable in the most recent past are now accepted as a way of life. Young people are left confused as they receive conflicting messaging from society, the media and people in general. As a parent, your job is to teach your children that even though they are tolerant of people and their views, they must set boundaries for themselves. This is how one writer puts it “Tolerance must have boundaries. Decency is the boundary of Tolerance.”
How Teaching Decency can help Children Make Better Decisions
Decency is defined as behaviour that conforms to accepted standards of morality or respectability. Morality is about “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong.” When your children are trained to differentiate right from wrong, they are equipped to make the best decisions for themselves. No, this does not make them perfect, nor does this mean that they will not sometimes make stupid decisions. But this inner radar will help them find their way back to the right path.
Recognising boundaries will even help your children face the consequences of their bad decisions with resilience instead of opting for quick fixes. Knowing that right and wrong exists, comes with the caveat that actions are followed by consequences. And so if you take the right actions, you will be rewarded with good, but if you make bad decisions, bad things may happen to you.
What about Laissez-Faire Parenting
These days, some parents think that they can let their children do as they please and find their own way in the world. This laissez-faire approach to parenting produces children who grow into adults who can’t understand the concept of boundaries. As would be expected, these adults who have not learnt how to observe boundaries are indecent. They are the men who do not understand that when a woman says no, she means no. They are also the kind of women who do not understand that putting their nude photos on the internet will attract perverts.
In the final analysis, it is best to teach your children why they must observe boundaries. Remember that some people who have no boundaries will still appear successful. In the coronavirus example, some who get the disease even out of their own careless will not get the disease. But people they spread it to may develop complications and even die from it. Indecent people will be rewarded by an indecent system. In fact, over 3,000 years ago, King David of Israel was so upset by this situation that he said, “I became envious of the arrogant when I see the peace of the wicked.”
So, what is the ultimate reason we teach our children to make the right decisions? Aside from the rewards that come from not having to deal with the consequences of bad decisions, they enjoy a good conscience and happiness that come from keeping boundaries. Also, they set boundaries of decency because it is the right thing to do.
What boundaries should you set for your children?
First, before setting boundaries, you must decide on a standard. For many Christians, the Bible is a standard. Bear in mind that you can’t accept some of the standards and reject others. You children will see you as a hypocrite and may not think much of the boundaries you set. So first, decide on who or what you want to be your standard and then, set boundaries based on that standard.
So, in what specific ways can you set boundaries for your children? Why not share your ideas in the comments section and then we’ll talk about it in another article.