One of the best pieces of advice I got as a new parent was: “children and pets both require sturdy fences.” Meaning, in order for them to understand their limitations, you must establish clear and consistent rules (or “fences”) for them to thrive within.
A few years later, I attended a parenting lecture on discipline, hosted by a local mother’s group, where I heard this mantra repeated. The speaker was Lynne Griffin, author of a popular parenting book, Negotiation Generation, and a firm believer in the power of “fences” for children. The wisdom Lynne espoused in her lecture inspired me enough to purchase her book and interested my husband enough to read it when I was done.
At the time, we were living in a well-heeled Boston suburb, where we regularly encountered children with sprawling kingdoms but few fences defining their boundaries. In quite a few cases we observed late-in-life parents, who doted on their children so excessively, who met their every wish so frequently, that the children were completely out of control. According to Griffin, enforcing just a few, consistent rules and erecting some fences could put these kids back in place. The book and Griffin’s message spoke to us. (more…)