Friday, June 8, 2012

The Beauty of Boundaries: God's Design for His Children

Recently, I was talking to a friend who has a young child. She was expressing to me the challenges she has found in raising her son. As I listened, she described how she allows him "the freedom" to roam all over the house unrestricted, how she doesn't like disciplining him even though she knows he probably needs it, and how he doesn't have a set bedtime. I thought about the beauty of boundaries

Sure, raising children to be "free range" may be the latest trend, but is it really good for the child? As parents, we want to do what's best for our children. Usually, though, that means laying down some basic rules and disciplining our children when they break those rules. Most children would never institute rules for themselves and certainly far fewer would actually discipline themselves. Rather, rules and discipline are the responsibility of parents who love their children and desire their safety, both physical and spiritual.

This afternoon, in the still and quiet of the house, I was reading Psalm 119 when I came to these two verses: 

"I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts."

Psalm 119:45

"I remember your ancient laws, O Lord,
and I find comfort in them."

Psalm 119:52

We don't typically think of "precepts" as providing "freedom" or "laws" as a source of "comfort." Rather, most people today perceive rules as restricting and confining, something made to be broken. Yet, true freedom can only be found in obedience to God's commands. When we follow God's way and seek forgiveness when we stray, we are freed to be who God wants us to be and we are saved from the powerful grip of sin.

Children without rules and discipline will suffer. 


"Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
Punish him with the rod
and save his soul from death."

Proverbs 23:13-14

What are your feelings about boundaries when it comes to raising your children?  Do you see them as restricting or freeing?


  1. I like the fence picture.... I don't like keeping my children locked up in the barn; they need some freedom to grow, and room to explore. Small ditches and a grove of trees provide learning experiences. But, there has to be a fence around the pasture, lest they fall into the mining field or get lost in the deep forest. We definately want to keep them out of real dangers.
    Exactly where the fence is will depend on parents preferences, but I think we should seek to give them plenty of room with a strong fence around the pasture. (easier said than done, I'm afraid)
    Parental action (discipline) must occur immediately upon getting out of the fence. I guess it is kind of like an underground puppy fence; they get zapped if they cross the wire.
    That's how I see it. Thanks for reminding me of that analogy! I think it is time for me to decide exactly where to place a certain section of my fence. :)

  2. I am a definite believer in discipline. As the mother of my daughters, and as the daughter of a spoiled mother, I realize that my most important responsibility is to give my girls the tools that they need to become productive members of society. To teach them to obey my rules, and thus societies laws. To teach them to respect others so that they can also be respected with time. To teach them discernment and morals so that they can better handle their own teen and adult years.

  3. My Grandfather, a Holiness circuit rider preacher, would have said, "she's raising one for the penitentiary."
    A lot of truth there.

  4. I'm a discipline mama myself. Granted, my baby's still small, but we're entering into the waters of consequences now. As far as I see it, if God commands the "rules" who I am to ignore that? Striving to live Biblically, for us there's no other way.