Boundaries and Grace: A Backseat Lesson from my 3 Year Old

I have spent the better part of my twins’ first 3 years of life setting boundaries for them.  “We eat at the table….We use please and thank you…No, you can’t cut your brother’s hair!”…the list is never-ending.  And now,  they are learning to set some for me, and I’m quite alright with that.  

Photo by Gabby Chapin Photography

Here is  a recent snippet of my life: 

I was driving with my 3-year-old twins in my back seat and I had a million things on my mind and one of my sons asked me a question, and when I responded, I was honestly a little rude.  

I was so proud of his response, “Momma, were you being rude, yes or no?”

“You know what…I was being rude and I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that.  I’m really sorry.  And, I’m going to do better.”   

“It’s ok Momma, I forgive you, but I don’t like when you talk to me like that.”

“I don’t like being talked to rudely either.  I like when people treat me with respect and kindness.  And I like when I treat other people with respect and kindness.  I will do better.”

“Ok…what am I having for lunch today?”

As a grown adult, I have seen the power and freedom that comes in setting boundaries with people.  It’s healthy for relationships to be able to ask for what you need, to remind someone that they aren’t treating you how you deserve to be treated, and then learning to give grace when they acknowledge that and try to do better.  

It seems my son learned that lesson just a little sooner, and I couldn’t be more proud. 

Photo by Gabby Chapin Photography

Here’s the other thing I’ve learned, I’m not going to get this whole parenting thing right 100% of the time.  I’m going to fail in big and small ways on this journey.  I don’t hold myself to perfection, because I know I can’t achieve that.  

But, when I fail, I want my children to see what it looks like to take ownership.  I want them to see that it’s ok not to be perfect. I want them to learn not to make excuses or blame someone else.  There is a lot of strength in saying, “I hear you and I’m sorry.”  And that the beauty of life is that you try to get it right the next time.  Giving and receiving grace is such an act of love.  

This was a small thing and we had both moved on in 2 minutes…but it was a building block for the kind of relationship I hope to have with my sons for the rest of their lives. I hope I always listen when they tell me what they need, and I hope they feel confident enough to do just that.  I hope that when I don’t get it right, I acknowledge that instead of making excuses.  And, I hope more than anything that I try and get it right the next time.  

I’m thankful to be practicing now…the stakes will get higher as they get older.  They will learn how to navigate conflict from these daily interactions, and that will impact how they view and treat themselves and others.  My hope is that the foundation I give them is sturdy and strong.

Catherine Karas
Catherine followed her college sweetheart (and now wife) Claire to New Orleans after they both graduated from the University of Georgia. She is a twin mom, a stay at home mom, a boy mom, a Disney mom, and a 2 mom family mom...just to name a few. She throws a mean toddler play date and loves to host small humans in her home for themed out events! She is often planning her next great family adventure, and she is never scared to pack her twins up for a trip solo! Her parenting mantra is "embrace the chaos", and there is plenty of that when raising twin boys! You can follow her family adventures on instagram @krewedekaras


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