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November 26, 2012
by Gloria Day

An Uncomfortable and Necessary Journey: “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend- Book Review Chapter 4

November 26, 2012 20:59 by Gloria Day  [About the Author]


Ah! Chapter 4: How Boundaries are Developed, finally something to chew on AND a reason to blame the folks!

So here we go some stuff that starts to help me make sense of why I live with this skewed sense of boundaries and often so much guilt:

Boundaries are built they are not inherited. In fact, boundary development is an ongoing process (whew!) yet the most formative stages happen in our early years!

The Bible advises parents to, “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6) Specifically here the authors suggest the parents act as ‘partners’ in helping young children discover what God intended for them. In fact, they go on to say you cannot develop boundaries apart from supportive relationships with others and with God. You see, if we have our boundaries built on unsupportive or misdirected relationships our foundation is flawed… We desire connection and relationship- we were built for it- designed in God’s image for this very purpose. AND you see, many of us KNOW this in our hearts yet we have had a rocky foundation of trust and respect at best and then we have entered the world with the desire for connection and with our misguided and flawed ability to relate to others, ie when to say Yes and how to say No we get hurt.

Hurt people, Hurt people…

And so the cycle goes on- we seek approval- defy the healthy guidelines for boundaries and then guess what…we get HURT!

The authors go through a very systematic and very psychological description of the stages of attachment and growth from about birth to three years. At which point there is a healthy separation and a coming back to parent as one’s own self. It is a very interesting read and ties some adult problems with various stages in this process- worth the read!

By the age of three with healthy boundary construction the author’s summarize where our abilities should be at:

  1. We can be emotionally attached to others yet without giving up a sense of self and one’s freedom to be apart
  2.  Ability to say appropriate no’s to others without fear of loss
  3.  Ability to take appropriate no’s from others without withdrawing emotionally


AND this is where I get a BIG “F” in my boundary development. Not only was this not constructed as a child I would say when I was 16 or even 30 I was not able to do many of these important tasks!

SO when did you last attach to someone but not in a codependent way?

When did you NOT hesitate to say No due to the consequences it might entail?

When have you been able to receive a NO and not “take it personally” and retreat?

I want to leave us with one thought back to childhood- Discipline is a good thing!

NOW how does that make you FEEL when you read that?

Do you get a bit angry and self-righteous? Do you feel like BIG brother is looking over your shoulder? How were you disciplined? OR like myself NOT disciplined when you were young?

Well God gives us some clear guidelines, now if you are not a bible believer that is okay; please take it with a grain of salt that MAYBE there is some good stuff in here and let’s listen to what we may learn from it:

“My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,

    but don’t be crushed by it either.

It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;

    the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.(Hebrews 12:8-11)




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