How can you raise loving, responsible children? ...

"Boundaries with Kids": Book Review

Allie Dart: I've just discovered a book that is a must read for every parent! I would recommend that every parent buy it, devour every word in it and implement the principles taught in this book, Boundaries With Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (Zondervan Publishing House).

Cheri Fuller, author and speaker says "All parents should keep this book handy. It's a gold mine of clearly written, practical information for parents on setting boundaries with their kids and raising responsible, self-controlled, and healthy children."

"We want our children to be responsible, but often we don't have a very clear picture of the character we are trying to build. In dealing with children, we are sometimes trying to get through the day, or sometimes the next hour! But if we could look ahead to the person we are trying to develop, then we could get a handle on some of the immediate parenting problems..."

The teachings in this book seem so obvious, yet so widely overlooked in rearing children. A sound plan from a biblical perspective is laid out which can revolutionize your family. The plan can give each of your children "the skills they need to gain the freedom of responsible living found within boundaries."

"A boundary is a `property line' that defines a person; it defines where one person ends and someone else begins." Children need to know where their life or personhood begins and what they are responsible for. If they understand that they are expected to be responsible for their own life, they can learn to measure up to that standard.

Child rearing requires a lot of knowledge and wisdom. "There are times for helping, for not getting involved, and times for being strict. Parents need to ask themselves, `Is what I am doing being done on purpose?' Or are you doing it for reasons that you do not think about? The actions you take with your children may be simply your own personality, childhood, need of the moment, or even fear...

"Parenting is often done for only the present problem or moment of discomfort. Keep in mind that you are preparing your child for the future. A person's character is one's destiny. When you parent, you help create a child's future. The patterns children establish early in life (their character) they will live out later. A person's character largely determines how he will function in life - whether he does well in love and in work depends on the abilities he possesses inside..."

This book points out the important role character plays in our children's lives. It says character is almost everything. It "refers to a person's ability and inability, his moral makeup, his functioning in relationships and how he does tasks. What does he do in certain situations, and how does he do it? When he needs to perform, how will he meet those demands? Can he love? Can he be responsible? Can he have empathy for others? Can he develop his talents? Can he deal with failure? How does he reflect the image of God? These are a few of the issues that define character."

Parents often try to protect their children from experiencing the same pain and learning curve they knew. The authors warn that "it is better for a child to lose privileges than for an adult to lose a marriage or a career..."

"Children have to learn how to take responsibility for such simple things as the need to clean up. They don't feel motivated to do such things. They don't plan for or take the time to clean up nor do they have the organizational skills. There is a slow transfer of these qualities from the outside to the inside.

"Boundaries facilitate the process of having the child internalize things that were external to him. And in the final analysis, building boundaries in a child accomplishes this: What was once external becomes internal..."

This book explains that responsibility is broader than duty or obligations, reliability and dependability, or just "getting the job done." "We think of responsibility in terms of ownership. To take ownership of your life is ultimately to take control...

"We shall all give an account to God for our lives (2 Corinthians 5:10), and He will hold us responsible for what we did with our talents, resources, relationships, time, and actions...

"People who know that they are not God look up to God to transcend their own existence. They order their lives around Him and His values. They realize they are here not to serve themselves, but Him. They understand the greatest commandment: `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind' (Matthew 22:37). Being grounded in God gives direction and meaning to their existence, allowing them to transcend life, problems, their own limitations and mistakes and other people's sins against them. Without an orientation to transcend the realities of this life and touch the realities of God, people are very limited.

"To transcend oneself means to be able to get past one's own existence and value the existence of others...

"If you raise your children to take control of their own lives, they will be so far ahead of everyone else that success in life is all but guaranteed!"

The plan laid out in Boundaries With Kids is very comprehensive. If you're a parent, you need this book.

Reprinted from Christian Educational Ministries Network Newsletter, 5:5, 6-15- 2000.

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