One summer my parents thought it would be a great idea for me to join the swim team. The problem was I didn’t know how to swim! It was both a challenging and fruitful summer. After learning the basic mechanics of swimming, my next task was to swim in a straight line. Everytime I practiced in an open pool or pond, I would always swim in a crooked line. Thankfully, our swim pool had lanes with floating lane dividers. While painful and shocking to accidentally hit, they provided me a boundary to stay in my lane. Without them I would have constantly been running over other swimmers, assuming I could have kept up with them.
I think I can swim in a straight line now, but as a child, I was not equipped in that area. Boundaries are so helpful for our children. They help our children mature and improve, just as the land dividers did for me as a swimmer. Still, I was not always a fan of the swim pool boundaries. They separated me from some of my friends, and prevented us from recklessly jumping into the pool cannonball style. But the purpose of the swim team was to help me grow as a competitive swimmer and those boundaries guided me toward that goal.
The purpose of parenting is to help our children grow as faithful followers of Jesus Christ. We are responsible to provide those boundaries that will guide them toward that goal in every area of their lives. Gratefulness or agreement for these boundaries is generally not required. Our role as parents is to do what our children need, not always what they want. As our children mature, this external control we provide as parents develops into wise internal self-control that will guide our children beyond their years in our home.
My favorite swimming stroke was always the backstroke (probably because I could actually breathe while swimming). To prevent swimmers from running unknowingly into the pool wall, flags are stretched above the pool on each end a certain distance from the wall so swimmers can know when to prepare to touch the wall. As parents, we are called to impart wisdom to our children, teaching them to recognize the flags that will prevent them from hitting the wall. I pray that your parenting goes swimmingly!