Steve Biddulph: Setting Boundaries, Parenting and the Serious, Serious Realities

Setting boundaries isn’t always easy – especially when you’re a parent. But, for every age and stage, parents need to step it up and be accountable says Steve Biddulph. 

Boundary-setting, it starts at such as young age. When your toddler begs for a cookie instead of the healthy dinner you’ve slaved over, you do what? You set a boundary and say, “No.”

Okay, so sometimes you give in. Just a little. You let your tot have her a sweet treat after dinner. It’s not exactly the end of the world here. But fast-forward a decade and boundary-setting takes on a much more serious nature. Steve Biddulph argues boundaries is where we are going wrong.

Hey, no one is saying that boundaries aren’t entirely important when you have young kids. They totally are. If you don’t start setting them early on, it won’t exactly be easy to later on. Your kiddo will get used to a loose and free lifestyle. Now try tightening that back in when she gets to the teen years. Not easy, right? That’s the point Steve Biddulph is making for us all.

Recently a disturbing trend towards letting boys and girls have co-ed sleepovers has been making news. This isn’t a sweet little gathering of toddlers or younger children. These are full-fledged teenagers partying under their parents’ roof – with their parents’ consent!

Remember way back when (in other words, your own youth). Imagine asking your own mum and dad if you could have a few dozen friends over for a party. Maybe they would have said yes. Now imagine asking if both girls and boys could spend the night. And, then add on a request to drink alcohol to. Okay, so maybe today’s teens aren’t always ‘asking’ to drink alcohol at their parties. But, they are asking for mum and dad to go away. Whether that’s upstairs and away from whatever is going on to heading out for the night, parents are finding it a challenge to set boundaries and say, “No way!” According to Steve Biddulph’s Raising Girls Facebook page, Biddulph says that, “Parental lack of backbone is creating great risks for kids. We need to do our job – set boundaries that kids can’t set for themselves.”

Maybe it’s the growing social pressure to be the perfect parents to our kids or maybe it’s something entirely different. In any case, giving in to your kids isn’t helping them. When it comes to teens and parties (not the sneaking out kinds, but the kinds under your roof), the risks may be serious. Underage drinking and boy-girl sleepovers can quickly result in sexual assault.

How serious is the problem of teen parties and sexual assault? Recently video footage of a 15-year-old girl being raped surfaced. The video showed another teen, a 15-year-old Cranbrook School student, raping her as his friend taped the whole thing. As if this wasn’t horrific enough on its own, the girl didn’t know about the incident until she saw the video. She was passed out drunk when the boy raped her, meaning that she was totally unaware of what happened.

This is far from the first, the last or the only incident of its kind among teens. Even though there’s no 100% fail-proof way of stopping underage drinking and sexual assault, throwing a party under mum and dad’s roof isn’t the way to go. So, what is the right thing to do. Well, that depends on you – as a parent. But, setting boundaries is a major part of it. It’s tempting to want your child to see you as a friend. Not only does it feel good to have your child’s friendship, but it may seem easier to talk to your child or open up the lines of communication with them.

In reality, parents need to stop being ‘friends’ with their kids and start being – well, being parents. Saying “no” isn’t easy. It doesn’t always feel comfortable and your kids may not like it. Um, that’s more like they definitely won’t like it. No one likes hearing those two little letters N-O. But, saying “no” and setting boundaries can keep your child safe. And, isn’t that what you really want?

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Erica Loop is a mum, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. Along with writing for websites such as PBS Parents, care.com, Scary Mommy, mom.me, Modern Mom, education.com and others, she also is the creator of a kids' activities and art blog.

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