Don’t do this! Don’t do that! Don’t do that either! No, you can’t stay out that late!!
Is that what your daughter constantly hears you saying? You may be thinking, “Of course not!” Maybe you’re not constantly telling her no, but it’s possible that’s her perception. Because does any teen girl LOVE when her parents set boundaries?! (Ummm…no!)
As moms, we have a huge responsibility to invest in, care for, and equip our girls. In many cases that looks like setting boundaries. The beauty of this is that you have an opportunity to walk with her on how to set boundaries wisely. This is a great way to have a conversation with your teen about responsibilities and expectations, and it gives them a sense that they are trusted and not being “told what to do.”
Let her in on the process.
Many of us like to feel like we are in control and our daughters are no different. Teaching your daughter how to set boundaries gives her an opportunity to have input and partner with you. You are still the parent and you have the authority, so I’m not suggesting you let your daughter set her own curfew, decide to skip school, and make all her rules! But I do believe setting boundaries can be even more beneficial if she walks with you through the process.
Explain that boundaries are based in love.
For example, God loved Adam and Eve so much that He gave them a boundary to keep them from harm (Gen. 2:16-17). Many times, our girls look at rules and think they are a form of punishment when it’s actually protection. For example, when we are driving, there are lines (boundaries) on the roads to keep us safely in our lane. When we go outside of the lines, intentionally or unintentionally, chaos can occur. In life, just like on the road, we need boundaries to keep us safe. Share with your daughter why boundaries don’t lose their importance once she turns 18, but like you are right now, you’ll always be there to help her navigate them correctly! Taking time with her now sets her up for success in the future.
Curfew rules may be something you are dealing with in this season or will face sooner than later. For example, ask her what she thinks is a reasonable curfew for the weekend. Maybe you’re thinking 10:30pm but she voices that 10:00pm is fair. Obviously, that conversation can go many different ways but it opens up dialogue and gives her a voice and ownership. Again, I’m not suggesting she set her own curfew, but our girls want to be heard and sitting down to discuss the issue can help her feel like she has input.
Maybe you’re not ready to talk about curfew rules with your middle schooler, but you are concerned about the amount of time she spends on her phone. Talk through screen time and what she thinks is normal versus excessive. Together, spend time setting boundaries regarding how often she has her phone/amount of time she spends on social media. I’ve talked with many girls in the ministry and I can’t tell you how many of them quietly tell me they wish they didn’t even have social media or didn’t spend so much time on their phone. Chances are, your daughter will be grateful to talk through setting parameters around her phone usage with you.
Be intentional to have ongoing conversations with her about dating and sex.
I know momma, it’s our absolute favorite conversation! ☺ Give her an opportunity to share boundaries that she already has in place. Odds are, she may not have set those boundaries yet. What a great opportunity for you to help her think through and voice what boundaries feel safe for her and what happens if they are crossed. Help your daughter set personal boundaries by encouraging her to respect and honor her body (1 Thess. 4: 2-5 NLT).
In closing, setting boundaries can be hard and come with lots of emotion when you two don’t agree. But take heart, momma!! Boundaries are necessary and a form of love. Help your daughter understand WHY boundaries are important and take time to acknowledge with her what happens when boundaries are crossed. Discuss accountability with her as well, because boundaries and accountability go hand in hand.
Be intentional, be open, give grace, model healthy boundaries, and pray! Be in prayer for your daughter—Philippians 1:9-10 is a great daily prayer for you to pray over her. Her love for Christ and growth in knowledge and understanding will help her discern healthy boundaries.
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. (Phil. 1:9-10)
Nikki Tigg is an MTSU grad and currently lives in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband and son. She felt called to serve in High School Ministry in 2012 and led co-ed and girls groups. She has been Student Ministry Associate at New Vision Baptist Church since July 2017. Nikki has a passion for helping girls understand their identity in Christ and loves connecting with students, parents and leaders. She loves spending time with her family, decorating and enjoys an active lifestyle.
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