This is Rex, my constant boundary pusher. He looks a little guilty, doesn’t he? He knows when the electric fence isn’t working, and will trample over a field fence to the “greener pastures” on the other side. And, he is not a horse, but a rather big pony! Our other two horses will not challenge the borders, only Rex. Why? Well, partly because that is his genetic make up, and partly because he knows he can get to the other side if he pushes hard enough. He is smart, too smart at times.
As I was taking this picture, it dawned on me that I can apply biblical wisdom as a parent, using this horse as an example. What a great analogy the Lord gave me!
Most families have a boundary pushing child. I have in no way mastered parenting one, but I would like to share with you what I have learned.
These children, who like to push and push until something gives, are not much different than Rex! Like Rex, they might have more of a stubborn genetic makeup, which is no excuse, but it is a little harder for them to maintain self control at times. But, what a potential warrior for Christ they can be! That being said, they also know that they might be able to push the limit and get their way. Like Rex, they know they have the ability, because we have let them get away with it at times. Rex knows his strength, and he sure does use it! He knows that if he pushes hard enough, he can make it to greener pastures and be rewarded, at least for a little while.
So, yes, parents, we have brought part of this upon ourselves! But, what do we do about it?
When Rex gets out, my husband will reinforce the fence and strengthen it. We should do the same. Reinforce the rules with our children, and do not give in. I know that if my husband fixes the fence correctly, Rex will not escape. But, if he is in a hurry and just wants to fix it temporarily, our big pony will find the weak spot and challenge it. We have to take the time to reinforce the rules with our children and do it to the best of our ability. No shortcuts here! If we only partially reinforce here and there, your little Rex will push that boundary over in no time!
Discipline also comes into play here as well. We know that there are consequences if we do not.
“Folly is bound up in the heart of the child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Prov 22:15
Rex knows he isn’t supposed to get out, so, he runs away from us after he has escaped. We then jump into the truck and chase after him (that part is kind of fun!) until he gets tired. Once he is tired, we put a halter on him and put him in his stall, a horse timeout! So, he is not rewarded, nor is he out in the pasture with his buddies, who, by-the-way, are grazing contently.
It’s a similar concept with children. They might resist us because they know what’s coming. But, discipline is a biblical command that must be done, whatever your form may be. We have to follow through and be consistent!
So, where’s the love in all of this? Well, after Rex finally decides to stop running and gives in. I walk up to him and praise him for letting me finally catch him. He is tired and heavily breathing because of his strong will of not wanting to be caught. But, he gave in. Big moment here! I do not lash out at him because he might not ever let me catch him again! I love on him a little bit and tell him that he is a good boy for stopping (yes, I do talk to the horses!)
When our children finally give in and stop resisting us, praise them. If they apologize, openly forgive them. Yet, let them know in a loving way that discipline is still necessary. Even after I praised Rex, he still had to go in his stall or small paddock with no grass. If you are like me, sometimes we feel guilty for doing this, and bypass the discipline. But, eventually, we will reap what we sow, and those boundaries will be pushed once again.
So, the next time your child pushes those boundaries, think of Rex, and do not give in, but lovingly stand your ground. Praise them for any progress they make. Picture them sitting on Jesus’ lap, who is loving them despite their shortcomings. Do not be too prideful to shower them with love and hold no grudges or resentment towards them!
Look at Rex now, do you see him in a different way?
Next week, I will be officially launching with some great giveaways, some of which will be my very own goat’s milk soaps and lotion! I hope you will join me!
How do you deal with your boundary pushers?