‘I playfully swatted my 13-year-old on the rear. ‘Don’t do that please.’ I paused. I literally felt my body squirm with an urge to respond.’: Parent shares reminder consent ‘starts with us’

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The Incident

“As I walked through the kitchen on my way out the front door, I playfully swatted my then thirteen-year-old on the rear and said, ‘Have a great time and see you later.’

‘Don’t do that please.’

I paused…..backed up…..and replied, ‘Don’t do what?’

‘Don’t hit me on the butt, I don’t like it.’

I am great at laying boundaries.

I previously worked as a school counselor where I taught a group of kids about boundaries.

Boundaries are one of the first things I teach my clients as a therapist.

Boundaries teach us how to love each other well.

I LOVE boundaries.

Yet still…my daughter laying a boundary with me regarding her body felt…uncomfortable.

I literally felt my body squirm with an urge to respond.

I couldn’t quite pin it down, but I knew receiving a boundary from my daughter made me want to explain myself.

It made me want to tell her why she should be okay with her Mom giving her a quick love pat.

It made me want to make her feel silly that she would need a boundary with her own Mom.

Evaluating My Past

Those were just parts of me.

Parts that were raised in a home where as children we didn’t get to have boundaries.

Parts that are still reeling from laying her own boundaries with her parents.

All they knew was this didn’t feel right.

I knew the right answer….so I responded with, ‘I’m so sorry and thank you for telling me, I will work to break that habit.’

Then I got busy attending to my own wounds.

I attended to each part that struggled to receive the boundary.

I paid close attention to what each part was saying so that I could have a deeper understanding of how they believed they were protecting me and how they behaved when they held that belief.

Then I got busy taking really good care of those wounds/parts.

That is my work to do.

Not my daughter’s.

Lessons Learned

My daughter’s job is to decide what feels comfortable to her and what doesn’t.

Her job is to establish limits to let others know who she is, what she values, and how she is to be treated.

Then, her job is to get comfortable speaking her truth.

That starts with us.

We are the guinea pigs.

How can our children get comfortable setting and speaking boundaries if they don’t have the opportunity to practice?

Establishing boundaries helps to keep our children safe and protects their mental health.

So, if you haven’t already, get busy helping your child learn how to determine what limits they need.

And then help them practice laying those boundaries through role-play or through real boundaries needed as they grow into a teen.

Notice your discomfort…pause…curiosity…compassion.

We will take good care of all your parts later, but for now, remember a huge part of our job is to help keep our kids safe.

That starts at home.

Don’t let your old stories get in the way.”

group of teenage girls walking across the parking lot
Courtesy of Kerry Foreman

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kerry Foreman. You can follow her journey on Facebook and her blog. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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