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  • Writer's pictureMegan Estes

"I Love You, Go Away." (Healthy parenting boundaries)

Updated: Feb 3

Have you ever said something similar to your children? "I love you, but mommy needs a minute." "I love you, but please respect my alone time." "I love you and wanna talk to you, but I'd like to go potty in peace so please go play!" Maybe you've said it with gentler words, or sometimes even harsher, but I know that every parent has at least had these thoughts at some point in their parenting journey. We love our kids, but we need a minute alone. More importantly, we love our kids but our marriage needs a minute so we usher kids outside so that we can talk uninterrupted, or connect with one another emotionally without distractions. Prioritizing your marriage over your children is one of the best things you can do for your kids to give them a healthy, happy, and stable home and create healthy parenting boundaries.

Are My Kids on the Throne?

are my kids on the throne or is God

Simple things like always letting your kids interrupt conversations could be a sign that you might have forgotten who is in charge (surprise, it's not your kids) and the value of teaching our children to respect authority. Now, let's be clear. There are seasons and times when our kids need our immediate attention, but often I find that when I'm never alone and not able to finish a conversation with my husband without a little blessing charging in between us, it's because we've not done well teaching them patience and respect for others. (My children are currently almost 12, 8, and 4 so this is an acceptable expectation). Hear me out. I LIVE for my kids. I stay home with them, I homeschool, I try to do all the things that someone who values their kid's hearts and minds would do. BUT, I do them a disservice in their life and spiritual journey when I let them and their emotions rule our home. Trust me, I've learned from this. No one else on this planet wants my kids to be happy like I do. But often, I've allowed my kids and their emotions to be in charge of where our family is headed. Yes, we need to lead in wisdom and grace. However, there's a difference between tending to your child's heart with wisdom, and actually being manipulated by them. When I've let my kids have their way and say in everything they want, guess what? is still never enough. Their soul craves to be led by their mother and father in steadfastness and truth. Even if this means that they aren't the center--which children shouldn't be, ever.

Being the center is a lot of unnecessary pressure on a child! That sounds super harsh, so let me explain. God has given my children to me as a gift to raise and train up. When I've felt insecure in my parenting my kids can sense that and walk all over me, leading me to then allow them to step into the center of our home which isn't healthy. It's amazing how they know what to say and do to try and sway my emotions to have their way. BUT, when my husband and I are confident in our parenting, marriage, and lead strongly, they follow suit! It's quite surprising actually that leading strong and not letting our kids dictate everything results in happier and emotionally healthier children. Even when it means they aren't getting to be the center, or have their way. They actually feel SAFE that the authority over them is emotionally mature, grounded, and steadfast.

We are not ever going to be even close to perfect parents--but we can point them to a good and loving Heavenly Father who is. Learning to "trust and obey" our Heavenly Father starts in the home with trusting and obeying us. It means following through with promises, commitments, and consequences. It means being a parent of integrity and standing firm on the hard days when everything in you wants to just give in to their demands even though we've said, "no" a thousand times because we just want them to stop asking or pestering. We must let our "yes" be "yes" and our "no" be "no." Period. We must show them that we are human, too, and have needs like they do. If all of our time, money, treasures, and even thoughts are surrounding our children and giving them everything they want, then we might be on the verge of idolizing our kids in a way that God never intended.

Healthy Parenting Boundaries Means That

Mommy and Daddy's Marriage Comes First

Marriage comes first then parenting

I recently had a long heart to heart with a new friend about the lack of marital priority in their life. Her husband works really long hours and when he gets home late at night everything decided is based on the kids. Their marriage is very fragile because of what they've recently been through as well as the fact that they are never alone. When I asked if her and her husband could take advantage of their family living in town to babysit and maybe go out for an hour long walk or go get $2 ice cream cones just the two of them she answered, "I just feel guilty that the kids would be missing out and we need to include them." I hear her heart. She doesn't want to neglect her children, but she's swung so far the opposite way it's just as unhealthy. My reply to this was, "No, you do not need to include your kids. The BEST thing you can do for your children is to have a strong marriage. From that they will feel safe, secure, and have trust in you both. They NEED you guys to work on your marriage." She was relieved. She needed to hear that. She knew that was true, but it is hard to live out when everything has been centered around the kids for so long.

Our kids are always right there in our faces and lives demanding all of our attention because they are kids! It's what kids do! And if we've made bad decisions that have affected our kids, or they've been through extreme trauma or crisis in the past, then our guilt might have us still walking on eggshells trying to please them and keep the peace. The truth is that our kids DESPERATELY NEED to see and feel the strong unbreakable bond between their mom and dad. It's why we often tell our kids, "we love you go away!" We smile while saying it and we all giggle about it together, but they know that when they hear those words that mom and dad need a minute to talk or to simply be together. Our kids know that our marriage comes first. It's okay to exclude your children from conversation. It helps them know that everything doesn't revolve around them in a healthy way. Having them wait also helps them practice patience and grow in their own character. We shouldn't have to wait until 10:30pm every day when our kids are in bed and we are wiped out to have a deep conversation with our spouse. It's okay to tell our children, "I love you, go play for a few minutes," so that we can have time as parents to connect over finances, work, life, and even be intimate emotionally and physically.

Matthew 19:4-6 says,

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Some of us need to repent of letting our children become the priority over our marriage, and actually allowing our children to drive us apart. We've enabled them to separate us without us even realizing it! Our commitment to our spouse is for our lifetime! While we will always be a mom or dad, our commitment to raising our kids is very short compared to the vows we made to our spouse. Our money, time commitments, and chaotic pick up and drop off schedules are often centered all around our kid's overloaded schedules. We've got to take back time to invest in our marriages and start saying "no" to certain commitments and interruptions. We have to prioritize our marriage for ourselves and for our kids! If we don't, our kids will fledge our home thinking that the whole world revolves around them and we will have led them away from the sovereignty of God and reality of what this life is really all about.

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