Children and Boundaries

Mothers know how to nurture and pamper their children. This natural tendency often makes it difficult to rebuke or discipline our children. We do not want to hurt their feelings or break their fragile hearts. We want to be their friend and parent. What a difficult task!

As the little one continues to assert his independence, I do find myself struggling to set boundaries while following his lead for the purpose of healthy social-emotional development. Today, Proverbs 29:15 assured me that it is okay to set boundaries, tell the little one “No”, and not allow him have his way all the time. He may not be happy with me momentarily, but it will be beneficial for both of us in the long run.

What are your thoughts on being your child’s friend? How do you balance being your child’s friend and parent?


  1. Hi Temi !
    Thanks for sharing the verse from Proverbs which reminds us about the importance of disciplining our beloved children wisely.

    God also disciplines us, his children, because he loves us.
    If we discipline our children well in their early years, then we gain the joy of their genuine friendship as they reach adulthood.
    It is important to set boundaries, and we need to explain to our children (within their comprehension levels) the reasons for the boundaries.
    Yes, our children may not always be happy with us for setting boundaries, but we will earn their respect.

    Temi, children also feel most secure when effective boundaries are set for them.
    We may think that letting them ‘have their own way’ will make them happier, but actually this leads to insecurity for both parents and children.
    As always, I pray for you, and your family. 🤗🌷

    1. Thank you, grandma Sally!
      I appreciate your prayers and support. Discipline certainly makes way for true friendship overtime and effective boundaries makes children feel secure. I need to keep these in mind. ❤

  2. I come from a culture, where my parents are not my friends. And I am grateful they never tried to be.

    am not my kids friend. And I never want to be. I am his mother. And that’s all I ever want to be. I don’t need to be his friend, and he does not need my friendship to grow up to be a healthy socially responsible individual. He needs His Lord. He needs his mother, to show him the ways of the Lord, so that when he is grown and able to make his own decisions he will make the right ones.

    The first word my kids learned is no. I say no when I know what they are doing is detrimental to them. That in the long run insisting on their way will never teach them patience, sacrifice, perseverance. To me it’s important to raise my boys to know that God is both, He says yes and he also says no. He gives and takes away. He is our loving father who sets boundaries within which we find freedom and joy.

    Saying no, and setting boundaries, has taught my little ones that obedience while may not be “fun” at the time, still leads to a blessing (as we do bless and praise them when they choose wrong) and disobedience is not tolerated (by being disciplined). It has taught them to be patient and wait for the things they want, for the right time to receive Them. It has taught them to honour their parents, trust the boundaries set for them, until a time comes when they can make their own decisions. We forgive quick as they repent, and affirm that they are loved. We give them choices, and a little freedom to choose. They know that their parents love them, and they know it even when we say no, even when they are upset with us, they know they are loved.

    And true friendship, the kind that lasts does not mean you accept everything another does, or agree that things they do is right even when they are wrong. True friendship corrects, sharpens as leads to truth.

    1. Your final paragraph sums up my views on friendship. When I think of being friends with one’s child, I think of Jesus as our friend and God. God called Abraham his friend, despite being Abraham’s God. In this context of friendship, the greater one did not look to the lesser for help. The lesser came to the greater for help. That is, friendship in parenting doesn’t involve the parents telling their children their problems. They create a relationship that allows their children to bring their problems to them, to be vulnerable with them. True friendship corrects👌

      1. Hmm.. I think God may have called Abraham his friend (he can do so if he wants, He is God, he does a He pleases) but I doubt Abraham ever referred to God as His firmed. He was always His Lord. While I think of Jesus who “behaves” as a friend to me time to time (listening, rejoicing, talking, comforting, etc) at this end of the day, He is still my Lord. That line is never crossed. I go to him for help, because I know He is Lord and therefore can help. I trust Him because He has shown that He knows better, and has shown through the word of God that His way is better. I feel safe with him and secure and lived because He gave his love for me. He is my Lord, and at the end of the day He does what He please with my life. God doesn’t discipline his friend. He disciplines his children. There is a difference.

  3. We spend a lot of time with the boys, talking and listening and playing. We want to maintain an open line of communication and a safe place to share. We ask them why they choose certain things and why they chose a particular behaviour and through we help to see the error. Children are able to perceive far more than we give them credit for, so they are never too young. We especially do a lot of talking after we discipline once the emotions have calmed down and everyone can think clearly. Kids can reason and think morally if given the opportunity to do so. But in all these scenarios I am still the parent, never the friend.

    1. Interesting perspective, Hasini. This kind of parent-child relationship is great and it promotes secure attachment in early childhood. Some of what you described may be described as friendship, depending on one’s culture.

  4. God didn’t call us to be our child’s friend, He called us to be their parent. The parent is the child’s authority so when they try to be friends with the child it undermines their authority. There are some self -esteem issues that need to be addressed when a parent feels the need to be their child’s friend rather than a parent. It’s saying that the parent and child are co-decision makers and that’s dysfunctional on so many different levels. Parents often mistake making their child their friend because they want a relationship wherein the child feels they can come to them with “anything.” But, that shouldn’t be done through being a “friend”, it should be done by establishing authority first and foremost. The kid needs to know you are the authority in their life, and if the parent is a Believer then they are responsible for evangelizing and discipling the child.

    1. This is an interesting view and I was raised the way you described. Fortunately, I turned out well. However, a part of me longed for friendship with those who were parental figures in my life. They established authority but didn’t see the need to create a relationship that promotes vulnerability.

      1. It sounds like you probably were experiencing a void in that there was something you felt like you weren’t getting. I’ve been there.

        I’ve seen it happen where adults were raised in very strict households so when they have kids they try to over compensate by going to the other extreme by being their child’s friend rather than the parent. They don’t understand how that’s really harmful to the child. I’m not saying that’s you, I’m just trying to establish here that there are different types of relationships and a relationship that a parent should have with their child is from the stand point of a “parental/child” relationship, not a parent/friend relationship. Your child is not your peer, were are not equals thus there must be boundaries. When you are the friend and not the parent, those boundaries will get crossed. A parent can establish authority and foster a relationship with the child that allows them to express themselves. Often times, when we hear the word authority we think of dictator. Establishing authority doesn’t mean that, not from a Christian mom/dad perspective. It means providing structure and direction. Being a parent does not mean that you can’t develop a healthy relationship with your child, but we have the role of setting boundaries, in what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, and since the nature of our relationship with our child grows and changes, adjusting those limits when it is no longer appropriate.

      2. Yes, I had this experience with my mother – she was an authoritarian rather than being authoritative; I believe there’s a difference. She never admitted being wrong, never apologized, she twisted things so you couldn’t have an actual conversation with her. Looking back it was an emotionally and verbally abusive environment (sometimes escalating to physical abuse) where a child’s voice and opinion did not matter to the parent. Thankfully, my dad was not like this, but my mom degraded him for how he disciplined us which I believe was more effective looking back.

        How I discipline my 5 year old is now different than my 2 year old. I think God gives us discernment with our children in that way. We have used the “1, 2, 3 Magic” method, and it works very well with my son. We ask him to stop once, start counting if he continues, and he immediately stops because he knows there’s consequences if we get to 3. My daughter is still learning this, but we do do a little spank in the toddler years since their ability to understand is limited and it helps them learn quickly when mom and dad say “no” it’s for your own good and we mean it. I realize there are different views on this.
        There’s also discernment there because my daughter seems more sensitive to this than my son was at her age. We also clearly had discernment in when to stop spanking. When my son understood that there could be consequences like taking away toys or time outs (that were effective), we went that route around age 4.

        Unfortunately, my mom “spanked” us well into high school which came as more of a result of her anger. Looking back, she just wanted to control the situation without actually addressing the behavior or actions. She shamed us. Both of these are effective in “maintaining control” but it also stirs resentment in the child and greatly hindered our relationship. I have never felt close to my mom and currently don’t have a relationship with her.

        1. I agree. There is indeed a fine line. Must never discipline when angry, something we all have to watch out for.
          May God be your source of comfort for all you experienced in childhood. I pray they will be healing love overflowing and peace.

          1. Thank you. Yes, I have no anger towards my mother. I forgive her, and I pray for her often. She had a hard childhood and young adulthood, but never sought healing, so she projected that onto get family. I love my mother, and it truly grieves my heart. She needs to seek God and get proper help through counseling and therapy. There was definitely a grieving period for me knowing that my mom would never be the person I needed her to be, nor would she be in my children’s lives unless she sought help. God showed me that I needed to rely on Him in that grieving time. I was taught family was everything, it seemed even before God, so God was revealing that lie to me that I believed for so long. I had many friendships growing up that were somewhere on the narcissistic spectrum, but I didn’t learn how to have healthy relationships with women growing up so I didn’t know any different. I didn’t understand why I continued to have “friends” that walked all over me.

            God has brought wonderful mother-like figures into my life who truly have been a blessing. Also, my experience is now helping a friend who is realizing she has a similar situation with her spouse, unfortunately. It’s crazy how God works, but He is good and when we turn to Him with our pain, He will use it for good! He is the ultimate healer!

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