“Do not move an ancient boundary stone.” (Proverbs 23:10a NIV)
Like most parents, when my children were little, I put boundaries in place to protect them: baby gates, banister shields, outlet covers, and enclosed play spaces. My goal was not to take away their freedom but to protect it; within the limits I set for them, my children were free to explore, learn, and live in safety and security.
Now that my girls are teenagers, I’m still putting boundaries into place. These are less physical and more mental, emotional, and relational, but they’re still safeguards meant to preserve my children for future happiness.
The idea of an ancient boundary stone—God’s way of saying, “Do not go beyond this point…what’s past here is not for you”—applies beautifully to parenting teenagers. I want to teach my teens that God's good boundaries are not intended to restrict but to protect. I want to teach my teens that Yahweh’s boundaries do not keep them from present blessings; they preserve them for future blessings. If I, for example, teach my children that certain physical and emotional lines in interpersonal relationships should not be crossed, it’s because I want them to be able to fully experience a joy and gift later, when the time is right. I want them to store up a blessing for themselves that will last far longer than any momentary choice.
God's boundaries—laid in love—are not meant to deny our children something good but to protect them for something better. The world will tell our teens that they are missing out when they observe certain boundaries.
We must teach them that when they stay on God’s side of a line, what they are actually missing out on is pain and heartache and confusion. And in this “missing out,” they will hit on the lasting joys and gifts that God—their all-wise, all-loving parent—has for them.