SYPM 009: How to Set Boundaries in Parenting
Play • 52 min

In this guest we're joined by life coach and expert on reparenting Xavier Dagba to discuss the topic of boundaries in parenting.

We don't tend to learn much about having boundaries when we're young, because our culture teaches that children shouldn't really need or have them (and those of us who are using respectful parenting approaches are working against the tide here). This then translates to us not knowing how to set boundaries as adults, and feeling 'walked all over' - without fully understanding why, or what to do about it.

We also talk about the limit between boundaries and limits, an important distinction as we interact with our children.

If you need more support in setting limits that your child will respect (and using far fewer of them than you might ever have thought possible - while still having your boundaries respected!), I hope you'll join my FREE Setting Loving (& Effective!) Limits workshop that runs between December 7-11. When you learn how to set limits that are grounded in your values, you'll hold them with confidence and you'll see MUCH less testing behavior from your child. We'll also introduce tools to help you find ways to engage your child's collaboration so you can really see a shift in the emotional climate of your home.

Click here to join the FREE Setting Loving and Effective Limits workshop

 

Other resources from this episode:

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Xavier's website

Follow Xavier on Instagram

 

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[accordion-item title="Click here to read the full transcript"]

Jen 00:02

Hi, I'm Jen and I host the Your Parenting Mojo Podcast. We all want our children to lead fulfilling lives, but it can be so hard to keep up with the latest scientific research on child development and figure out whether and how to incorporate it into our own approach to parenting. Here at Your Parenting Mojo, I do the work for you by critically examining strategies and tools related to parenting and child development that are grounded in scientific research and principles of respectful parenting. If you'd like to be notified when new episodes are released and get a FREE Guide to 7 Parenting Myths That We Can Safely Leave Behind, seven fewer things to worry about, subscribe to the show at YourParentingMojo.com. You can also continue the conversation about the show with other listeners in the Your Parenting Mojo Facebook group. I do hope you'll join us.

 

Jen 00:59

Hello, and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo Podcast. Today we're going to talk with a guest about a topic that I've been thinking about a lot lately, which is on setting limits and boundaries. We'll talk about the difference between a limit and a boundary. Because this has really profound implications for our parenting. We tend to think of limits as something that brings more control, and we want to have control. So, we want to have those in place so we can feel like we're on top of this parenting thing. But for some reason, we tend to be really sloppy in our boundaries. We have a hard time accepting that we're even worthy of setting boundaries, never mind holding them. So, we're going to talk through this today with my guest, Xavier Dagba who's a life coach who focuses specifically on these kinds of issues.

 

Jen 01:40

But before we get to that, I wanted to let you know about a free one week Setting Loving and Effective Limits Workshop that I'm running starting on Monday, December 7, I actually normally sell a version of this workshop for five bucks, and you have to work through the content by yourself. But this is a rare opportunity to do it not only for free, but to get my support while you're at it. In the workshop, we're going to come at this topic from a bit of a different perspective than many of the conversations I see about it. We'll ask yourselves, what if things seem a little out of control at the moment not because we don't have enough limits, but because we have too many? And if that's the case, how can we decide which ones you maybe don't need anymore? And how can we know that our kids weren't run riot or walk all over us if we don't have as many limits in place? Because there are tools that can make this so it doesn't happen and they aren't super difficult to use, but most parents I work with have a bit of a hard time getting up and running with them because they're just so different from the way that we might have parented in the past.

 

Jen 02:35

When we set a limit, we're holding the power ourselves. But we're also holding all of the responsibility. We aren't allowing our children the freedom to make their own decisions and have their own ideas about things that might work, even though while they're young, they will still need our help refining these. We're not talking about abandoning all limits entirely, we're still going to prevent our two-year-old from crossing the street by themselves, and we're not having complete free for all in our home. But far more often than you might think possible in this moment, right now, our children are actually willing and very able to work with us to find solutions to the kinds of problems that currently seem to require us to set limits. The key is to know how to identify those situations and navigate through them in the moment, when it seems like the only thing you can do is set a limit.

 

Jen 03:19

It's almost paradoxical that the more we give up needing to have a sense of control, the more we invite our child's cooperation, and the more willing they become to work with us. And I've seen this happen in the children who are the most difficult and the most hard to reach and the ones who seem like they just need us to control their environment. And when we instead connect with them, and we asked for their ideas on how to solve the problem we're having in our relationship, they're actually quite able to do this. They want to work with us. They don't like being antagonistic and difficult and having so many negative interactions with us. They crave our love and positive attention and the more we can set up our environment to invite them to be successful, rather than planning for them to fail, the better off our child will be and the less stressed we will be as well.

 

Jen 04:01

So, if this sounds like something you can use in your life, head on over to YourParentingMojo.com/limits and sign up. It's completely free and we'll start together on Monday, December 7. Once again, that's YourParentingMojo.com/limits.

 

Jen 04:15

Hello, and welcome to this episode of Sharing Your Parenting Mojo. I'm here today with Xavier Dagba, who is a life coach and an incredible all-around human being. Welcome, Xavier! It's so great to have you here.

 

Xavier 04:27

Well, thank you. Now, I have to live up to that expectation.

 

Jen 04:33

I'm sure you'll be fine. I wonder if you could tell us just a little bit about yourself and the topic that we're here to discuss today, which is kind of on setting limits and boundaries and how those things fit into our lives.

 

Xavier 04:45

Yeah, this is really interesting. And a little bit about myself. Right now, I'm a life coach. And before doing this, I've been a wellness coach, I've been a PhD student not in psychology or anything like that but in economics. This was over seven years ago, and I had the wakeup call moment where I was invited, I had that impulse for several years to just let go of the field of statistics economics to dive into something that would help people even more, but I was resisting it. So, in 2013, I had that huge awakening of like, this is not really where I want to be in my life, this is really not what I want to do with my life. And I dropped out. And then it began a long cycle of searching for something new, you know. Really what I wanted to do, how I wanted to help people, [I] began taking courses and classes and, you know, certifications and learning as much as I could to get to a place where I feel like, okay, I can really help people shift in their lives

 

Xavier 05:49

And the journey of beginning to set boundaries was, you know, really important for me, because when I decided to let go of the PhD career, or perspective of becoming a professor in economics, I got a lot of backlash. You know, from my family, I live in Canada now, but most of my family still lives in Africa. And they saw it as a huge, huge betrayal. And even for myself, it felt like betrayal to a part of myself, because I had, you know, you work hard to get a scholarship for a PhD, you really work hard to get there.

 

Xavier 06:24

You know, and then at some point, you just like this, isn't it? This doesn't make me happy, and I let that go. So, there was that divide inside. And also, I got to a place for the first time in my life, I was the biggest deception, the biggest disappointment to my parents. Now, which was new to me. So, learning how to navigate that learning how to be like, "Okay, I need to rebuild myself, and I need to rebuild myself without their approval." This is how this began, because I needed to create space between them and me, so that I could navigate that. So, this is how I started diving into this, I literally had to go. And this is not something that I am recommending to anybody. I went through a period of two and a half years without really talking to my family.

 

Jen 06:27

You do.

 

Jen 07:16

Yeah.

 

Xavier 07:17

You know, without having interactions with them. And I can arguably say that this is what I needed to kind of come back to a place where I have a secure footing about who I am. And if people ask me, was there a better way from where I stand right now? Then, I can say absolutely, yeah. And if I had known earlier how to say, how to speak my truth, that boundaries create limits, it wouldn't have happened. It wouldn't have been two and a half years. Maybe six months, you know?

 

Jen 07:50

Yeah. Oh, my goodness, it makes me think of when we're thinking about raising children. and they exhibit behaviors that we find really difficult. And it's so tempting to think, well, if they just changed the behavior, then things will be better. And, and if we can reframe that, and think you know what the child is doing the best they can with the tools that they have, just like you were doing the best that you could with the tools that you had, and maybe it wasn't the optimal path, but it got you through. And maybe we can look back and see, "Oh, yeah, there is a different way." And now we have this insight that we're going to - by the end of this call, we're going to have so much insight - that we are going to be able to maybe set limits, set boundaries in a different way than they were set with us and maybe that we've been setting them until now. So that we can have a different relationship with our children, and that they can have a different relationship with limits and boundaries than we have had. And they have had until now.

 

Xavier 08:44

I absolutely love that. And you know, that being into becoming a parent, it increased that. It amplified a desire to actually become better at communicating, period, because I was really bad. I wasn't the best communicator. Jen, the reason why I shut down communication with my family for several years. And communicating everything, you know, what I find when it comes to boundaries and limits, communicating everything, meaning, where you allow yourself to go truthfully, how much to allow people in your life, truthfully, as well, is really what we are learning through all of that. And this is really beautiful. And being able to reflect that to my children was a really great driving force, for meet those steps even more into this word.

 

Jen 09:34

Yeah. Okay. So, I wonder, can you help us understand because I think this is something I've only sort of really began to tease out more recently, the idea of the difference between a limit and a boundary. Can you tell us how you think about those things?

 

Xavier 09:46

How I think about these things is really interesting. And for everybody who listens to this, I'm inviting you to just take what resonates with what I'm going to say what really makes sense to you and see if it works in your own context, in your own life - is an invitation that I would have for you. Now, the way I see a limit, a limit is more like some a rule, it feels more like a rule that you're giving to others meaning here, this is how far you are allowed to go, this is what you are allowed to do in this setting here. So it feels more like there is a certain position of authority when it comes to setting limits, you know, and a good example would be in a family, when you are a parent, you will get to set the limit to how your house is working. You know, bedtime for the kids, that's the limit. You can say noise in the house, or the amount of like, screen time that you choose to give to people. So, there is that relationship with authority there, where you get to set the limit. And it's something that is not really discussed about it's like not really, to a certain degree, maybe not negotiated, because you are the person in authority, there is that authority aspect in the limit. And he doesn't necessarily, you know, the example of parent and kid is obvious. You know, but we also get to set limits with like, with the other relationship, but they will look more like some sort of rule that you would give to the person coming into your space. Like this is what you are allowed to do into this space. When we are interacting together, this is what you are allowed to do here. So, this is how I see a limit. And we could go into more example there.

 

Xavier 11:42

A boundary is really how far you are allowing yourself to go, the way I see it. You know how far you are allowing yourself to how much you're allowing yourself to show up in a specific situation. And a few examples of boundaries would be, for example, with family, and this is a huge one for me that I had to set for, you know, for a long time, I need to be given notice, if you're going to come home. I need to be given a notice, like a call at least three hours or even a day in advance. This is one day in town; I need a three-hour notice like I need to know that I need to prepare myself to receive you. You know so, and if that is not there, I reserved myself the choice to tell you it's no working. I'm not available. You know, so I'm not. Basically, it sounds like I won't necessarily be available for you if you do not give me notice before you come home. You know something like that. It's really you are declaring how far you willing to go. So that's an example of how I can bring it. And we can refine it even more and refine it even more. But I feel when it comes to limit and boundary there is a position of authority with the limit. It's like there is more authority there. And the boundary is more how far am I allowing myself [to] really go here?

 

Jen 13:11

Yeah, yeah, I love that distinction. And as you were talking through the limits that you set, I mean, it's so personal. All of this stuff is so personal. We don't set a limit on bedtime for my daughter. And I mean, we gave up on that when she was I don't know, two and a half or three or something. And she tells us when she's tired and when she's ready for bed. And so many parents have struggles with, you know, how do I get my kid to stay in bed at bedtime? And well if there is no limit around that you don't have that struggle. And so yeah, I think limits can invite struggles. And so when we're thinking about limits and parenting, I think one of the easiest things to do that seems so counterintuitive, is we feel like we need the sense of control and limits are going to give us that control that we feel that we need, when actually, if we can see our way to relaxing some of those limits to relaxing that sense of control, then all of a sudden, things get easier. And we just don't have fights over bedtime over you know, you need to stay in your room, you need to do X, it's bedtime it needs to happen now, we have stories at a set time. And that sort of part is prescribed and then she can have quiet time for as long as she likes. Sometimes she says right after story time and ready for bed now. And she did that last night and she was up at 630 this morning. Other times she has energy, and she wants to be up until 10. And that's fine that she sleeps in later the next day. And so, the limit there by making that limit go away, we just I mean really so much stress [has been removed] from our own lives. So, it's so personal about where we decide to set these limits on things because clearly you set limits in a different way than I do even.

 

Xavier 14:47

Absolutely. And on that point, I just want to say, you know, what's the most important thing for you, you know, as a parent, and you mentioned something that's really important to hear. Not only you having the peace of not stressing out about imposing the limit, but also, when you try to impose a limit, the other person still gets to challenge the limit or not.

 

Jen 15:11

They do.

 

Xavier 15:12

You know, even if it's the child. So, the other person gets to challenge your limit or no. So, what matters the most to you? Is it winning? At that authority battle, or is it really having a situation where the child understands that, okay, my needs are taken into consideration here, you know, my energy is taken into consideration here, also, that I don't get frustrated, get taken into consideration here. And it might change depending on the context. Now, we talked about going the bed, you know, like, apply it to something else to another role in your life. What really matters here? What happened in the past when you try to set the limit? What has been the response? Because, arguably, you know, when we parent, the child needs quite a bit of structure. But what is the cost of the structure has well, please, really important to get clear, the cost for you, you know, what is it costing you to impose the limit? Do I get all the stress? And just like, if I'm not able to get this rule passed I'm not a good parent, strong enough parents? What is really the cost for you? And also, what is the cost for your child? You know, what is the programming that you're really enforcing here? And it's really important to get clear on that, you know.

 

Jen 16:39

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And because there's that control, and this this kind of societal...

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