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Lessons in Boundaries: What my husband taught me about raising our daughter

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

As parents, it is important to teach our children about boundaries- the lines that we draw and the rules that guide our relationships.

But I am an impatient person myself. No amount of YouTube or any social media platform videos on gentle parenting would be ample to prepare myself of what was coming, as our daughter entered the "troublesome threes".

The societal pressure for mothers is incredibly high too. Mothers are expected to know everything. To always do the right things. We moms are normal human beings too, trying to navigate the world one day at a time, always on learning mode especially at setting the right boundaries.

Luckily for me, I have an amazing partner who seems to know all the right things to do and say to our daughter with his calm and collected demeanor.

Here are some things he does to ensure our daughter cooperates in two different scenarios (but of course these too requires trial and error, as it might not work for everyone, and every child is different):

Scenario 1: Interrupting when adults are talking

Our daughter really loves when we are involved with her activities. Like adults, when you have a discussion, you wouldn’t want a team member to be playing with their phones and not pay attention to what is being discussed. So, when our daughter plays or even just watching TV, she would want to have a conversation with us like for example “Mommy, look! The monster is hiding behind the curtain!” or “Mommy, look what I made, A pizza!” or she would want to be a part of the conversation by asking what we are discussing about.

Sometimes when this happened, I would react with a bombastic side eye of please don’t disturb when adults are talking or just divert her to do something else.

While my husband usually pre-empts her by saying, if you need our attention put your hand on my wrist, and if my hand touches your hand, that means we notice you are here, and we will come join you or explain to you what is going on after we finish our adult discussions.

This requires constant reminders too until it works out.

It took some time for this to work honestly, as our daughter always experience FOMO (fear of missing out). However, gradually this has become a routine for us, and she understands that when she is not part of a conversation does not mean we dismiss her presence.

Scenario 2: Wanting to play with mobile devices or iPad.

Growing up as the generation Alpha, it is quite difficult to not be introduced to mobile devices at an early age as most likely both parents would have their devices in hand majority of the times. Now with working from home or working remotely have made it easier for parents to have flexible work arrangements. However, this has made it even more difficult for us adults to be separated from the devices, as a majority of the communications are done online.

Remember, you are being constantly observed by your kids. Staying glued to your laptops or devices inevitably increases the chances of them following our footsteps.

My natural reaction would be to just give my daughter the mobile device for her to watch on her own, but of course only filtered content are allowed.

However, my husband would have a slightly different take on this. He would always stay engaged by watching the contents together and giving context from the start that there is a set time limit of no more than 30 minutes. The time limit has reduced gradually from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, so that she can concentrate on playing with her toys or keeping busy with other stuff.

She did not take it well the first few times, especially after going to the grandparents houses who allow her to have unlimited screen time with no provisions.

However, this may sound too good to be true, but our daughter has sometimes even refused screen time as she enjoys our company more and finds joy in doing other things by involving her with doing house chores together, folding clothes or cooking as well as for us to be involved and present with her during playtime without any devices on sight.

There are THREE things you and I can take from this writing

- giving context is key to prepare your kids mentally and emotionally

- things take time

- we are all learning to be good parents!

Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go the way we plan it to be. We got this!

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