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Set Clear Boundaries

Set Clear Boundaries

Be firm, and be true to your word

“Raising children alone is not easy​—especially when they reach the teenage years and feel the world’s pressure to rebel against their parents.”​—DULCE, SOUTH AFRICA.

The challenge.

The Bible foretold that in “the last days,” children in general would be “disobedient to parents.”​—2 Timothy 3:1, 2.


Recognize that “children need structure and schedules to thrive.” (The Single Parent Resource, by Brook Noel) Child and family psychologist Barry G. Ginsberg states: “Relationships are better and less stressful when boundaries are clear.” He added: “The more explicit our boundaries, and the more clearly they are expressed, the easier relationships become.” How can you set clear boundaries?

Be firm, and be true to your word. (Matthew 5:37) An Australian study revealed that children often misbehave when parents are unable to say no and when they constantly give in to their children. As the Bible says: “A boy [or girl] let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.”​—Proverbs 29:15.

Do not let feelings of guilt over your situation as a single parent cause you to be a permissive parent. “At times, my first reaction is to feel sorry for my two sons because they are being raised in a home without both parents,” says Yasmin, quoted earlier. But as we shall see, she did not let her feelings, which were by no means bad, override her good judgment.

Be consistent. “Predictability and consistency in the application of discipline may be important for the prevention of behavioral and emotional difficulties in children,” says the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Yasmin states: “I sat down with my boys, and we discussed discipline. When they do wrong, I try to be consistent. That said, I have learned to listen first and then explain in a calm manner how their action has affected the family. Only then do I carry out the previously determined discipline.”

Be reasonable; do not discipline in anger. While you need to be firm for what is right, you also need to be flexible when the situation warrants it. “The wisdom from above”​—that is, from God—​is “reasonable,” says James 3:17. Reasonable people do not act rashly or in the heat of anger. Nor do they always go coldly ‘by the book.’ Instead, they think first, perhaps even praying about a matter, and then they are able to act more calmly and appropriately.

Consistency, firmness, and reasonableness​—along with your good example—​will enable you to set boundaries that will make your home a true refuge for your children.