Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No

by - Wednesday, May 09, 2012

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Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life
By Henry Cloud and John Townsend

 This book goes over how to set boundaries so that you can have some control over your life. I figured if I was going to parent my kids so that they would have boundaries, I better make sure I have my own boundaries first, which is why I read this one first (there is a Boundaries with Kids also, that is popular).

At the very beginning I started to think that this book was more focused to those who were abused in some fashion as children, which trust me, this book is for, but it is for all adults who have a hard time saying no, or for those adults who feel guilty and upset when they say yes but wanted to say no.

I had planned on flying through this book, because, like I said, I don't think I have boundary issues - however, I spent three weeks on this book really diving into and pondering over different points it makes about issues one might have setting boundaries.

One point I think was extremely helpful in the book was the discussion of how we should see our boundaries as fences, not there to bind us but to give us security. Also these fences need to have gates so we can allow good aspects into our lives, and remove some evil things that we might have accidentally let in. That visual really resonated with me. Boundaries aren't immovable walls that we are stuck behind. They are just there so we know what we are responsible for and what we aren't. That way we don't get overwhelmed with other people's issues, or expect too much from others when it comes to our own responsibilities.

 A reason why I took so much from this book is because Cloud and Townsend used so many scriptural references to back up their points. Setting boundaries, saying no to people in need, or yes for that matter can be a touchy subject, especially for Christians. Knowing that they had their ideas come from scripture, and being able to go to the Bible and see for myself, gave their points a little more weight.

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 One point I loved was that in order to give to others of our time, money or any resource, we must give out of love. We can't expect anything in return, or we aren't really giving in the manner God wants us to. We are to serve freely. This point came up again and again. In particular, for me, it stood out while Cloud and Townsend were discussing how important it is for parents to allow their children the right to say no, and have it be listened to.
"When parents teach children that setting boundaries or saying
no is bad, they are teaching them that others can do with them as they wish...
To feel safe in such an evil world, children need to have the power to say things like: No;
I disagree..." (p 50)

As parents, I think, we often feel that we should always have the final say, and not allow our children the ability to say if they don't want to do something. Allowing them to have some chance to say no, and realize they are heard is important as they learn to set their boundaries. This is important because if they aren't allowed to say no, and have it followed, they start to fear not love, and then they can't be honest about what is in their power. Now don't get me wrong, kids don't get their way all the time, and that is fine. But recognising the times when their no does count is important. And let them know when and why their no is not being listened to - does that make sense? If not, and you are curious, read this book!