Friday, October 23, 2009


“Boundaries make a child feel safe.” Dr. Deborah Langenbacher

Children naturally experiment and push boundaries in their quest to mature and learn to be a part of society. Not everything they try will be right every time. Parents are part of their lives to correct them and teach them appropriate child behavior.

Being a friend to your child is one way to sidestep the conflict, responsibility and pain of being a parent. It's also a good place to hide if you don't know how to parent. But your role in your child's life is to be their parent. Being a parent is not an adversarial relationship, but one in which clear lines are drawn about who is in charge. When you find yourself and your child thinking alike, or spending a lot of time hanging out together, it may be time to rethink your role. If you are not creating a solid, secure base from which your child can explore the world, you are probably being a friend rather than a parent.

Think about what kind of relationship your child has with their friends. Friends are equals. Each feels free to tell the other what they think, and to be a confidant. Childhood friends drop each other and move on to other friendships, experiencing all the different personalities that life has to offer. Friends don't guide, nurture, and protect each other; they don't set boundaries and limits for each other.

You may wonder why I am writing about being parent when I have no children of my own. It’s simple, if you were to re-read this blog and substitute ‘leader’ for ‘parent’ you would understand the association. Professional boundaries are important because they define the limits and responsibilities of the people with whom you interact in the workplace. If everyone on your team understands what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, then team members will feel safe in their roles. An effective leader (or parent) understands that failing to define boundaries, having no boundaries, or having inappropriately rigid boundaries can have an unfavorable impact on their organization, employees or family.

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