Barbed Wire Boundaries and Our Children
I recently visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. I was fascinated by the barbed wire exhibit. There were 1,000’s of different varieties of barbed wire!
Likewise, I was fascinated to find a much smaller barbed wire exhibit at the Museum of Idaho last week. The exhibit displayed barbed wire styles that were unique to each rancher. When you saw a certain style of barbed wire you knew who’s property you were on. Then I wondered if my family had their own style of barbed wire? A question that there is probably no one left to answer…
It turns out that barbed wire forever changed the way that ranchers kept beef cattle in the American West. Previous to barbed wire, there was no cost-effective way to confine cattle. The creatures mostly roamed free on the open range. Once barbed wire was invented, cattle were fenced. Ranchers could increase their herds without the fear of losing cattle to cliffs, bad plants or mixing with other herds.
So what’s the point of all this barbed wire talk?
I loved looking at all the types of barbed wire. But, it made me think about the function played by the barbed wire. It set boundaries, to keep cattle in and predators and rustlers out.
We each have our own variety of figurative “barbed wire” for our personal boundaries. Healthy boundaries are a way to define who we are as individuals. They define what we will and will not hold ourselves responsible for. Learning to create healthy boundaries is an important part of our self-care.
Boundaries and our children
But, just as barbed wire keeps cattle in, it also keeps unwanted critters or people out. It’s this aspect that I wanted to talk about today. As mothers of adult children, it’s so easy to think of our children as an extension of us. Sometimes we forget the plan is for training them to manage their own lives, separate from us. As they grow in abilities, our children need to develop healthy boundaries. The do this to live their own lives without interference from their parents.
This can be frightening for us parents, since we love our children and want to stay close and protect them. We may not recognize our children’s “barbed wire boundary”. We may attempt to break through it, by offering helpful observations or advice. In mixed-faith families, repeating helpful reminders of the religious teachings that you taught them to make their life “better”.
Our rationale is that we only want what’s best for our child. We have more life experience, and we are only trying to be helpful.
Wisdom from Twitter
“Unsolicited advice is criticism, always”.
I agree with this, although I don’t always practice what I preach. Occasionally I do have a habit of doling out unsolicited advice to my adult kids… Then I end up having to apologize when/if I recognize I’ve overstepped their boundaries.
Perhaps you feel like you have been caught in barbed wire in your relationship with your adult child? Or you might be trying to break down a boundary they have established to create independence from you? Is there a better way for you to have a relationship with your adult child?
Perhaps I can help?
If you need help answering these questions, coaching might be a great fit for you. I have learned to better create boundaries for myself. Additionally I am better at recognizing the boundaries our kids and others have set for us.
Would you like to discuss “Barbed Wire Boundaries and Our Children” or your situation? Feel free to select a convenient time and we can Just Talk.