Boundary Battles: How to Be a Good Dad

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Do you ever get into boundary battles with your kids? From my experience, it’s just part of being a dad.

Your kids see something and they want it … but they really shouldn’t have it. Or their friends are allowed to do things that you don’t think are appropriate for children at their age. It’s an ongoing battle for parents.

We might not like hearing that our kids are the only ones who don’t get to do something. At the same time, it’s our job to protect them from dangers … and there are a lot of dangers in the world today. This is a huge issue in today’s culture. Kids are growing up faster than ever, getting “grown-up” privileges—and often experiencing “grown-up” consequences—at younger and younger ages. Sometimes I’m amazed at what parents today allow their children to see and hear.

We have to protect our children’s minds—their innocence.

One common example is with media. Kids hear a song on the radio or from one of their friends, and they want to download it and listen to it all the time. Or they ask to see a PG-rated movie when they’re five, then a PG-13 flick when they’re nine. Or maybe it’s a news story about an actual event, and the details or images are R-rated.

Different parents will set different boundaries. It’s up to you and your child’s mother to decide where the boundaries should be. But I hope you’ll take seriously the right and responsibility to set strict boundaries about what goes into your children’s minds, and protect them from dangers.

Kids aren’t prepared to handle adult issues and information in a positive way. They don’t need to see gratuitous violence and sex and forms of abuse. The heavy issues of the world can wait. We have to protect their minds.

So, dad, don’t back down in the face of your child’s tantrum because she can’t attend a sleepover where they’re showing a movie you object to. Don’t feel bad about restricting your son to video games that are rated for his age and not teens or adults. Courageously change the channel or block the website when something inappropriate comes on.

Your kids will give you grief—again and again. They’ll call you unfair and out of touch. They’ll talk about what their friends’ parents allow them to do. You won’t feel like a “cool” dad. But that’s okay. It’s your job to protect them even from dangers they don’t recognize.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • When you have to say “no” to something, explain your thinking to your child. Include some likely outcomes for people who disregard the truth behind that approach.
  • Next time your child objects to your boundaries, try this response: “I love you too much to let you do things that aren’t good for you.”
  • Actively seek out positive, appropriate alternatives to some of the questionable media choices or activities that your child wants to enjoy. Suggest a fun family activity; help her discover a different music group with more wholesome lyrics; introduce him to an old movie that doesn’t have any rating concerns; etc.
  • Tell your kids that they can use you as an “excuse” if they feel uncomfortable about being with a certain friend or going to a particular event.
  • Reward your children for showing good judgment—when they choose to live within your boundaries on their own!

Please share your ideas and help other dads. How do you protect your children’s minds on a day-to-day basis? Join the discussion either below or on our Facebook page.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

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