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September 1, 2012

Set boundaries to protect children

A few winters ago, my daughter wanted to ski. She hadn’t skied in awhile and was having difficulty with the equipment. 

We were standing on an incline as she struggled to push her boot into the bind

ings. Having skied very little, I was useless. She asked me to steady her, so I put one hand on her waist. Each time she pushed down, though, she’d start to slide away. I began to laugh (which made her really angry), and she yelled, “Hold onto both of me!” It took me a second to understand her meaning; she wanted me to hold onto both sides of her waist. But her cute, desperate phrasing made me laugh even harder, causing her to yell again, “Hold onto both of me, Mom!” Hysterical, I watched as she slowly slid backwards down the hill, mad as an old wet hen.

Boundaries. What child doesn’t need them? 

In my last column, I talked about the dangers our children face through social media and texting. The thought of any child interacting face to face with anyone while they juggle multiple cyber conversations with multiple emotional layers boggles my mind. While I only see a child staring at a tiny screen, they are, in “reality,” connecting with a vast outer world — a world where one-word texts and ambiguous posts are devoid of tone and body language, leaving everyone uncertain and overloaded. It is disturbing and somewhat horrifying to me that a child’s world could crumble right under my nose, and the only outward sign would be a flicker of light passing across his or her face.

What to do then?

Guard.

Be on guard as if our children were the most precious, priceless prize we could ever fleetingly touch — because they are. And, if I may be presumptuous, I would like to share some guarding guidelines. This presumption does not come from arrogance, but from failure — from times when I left my children unprotected in that nether world and times when my ignorance, fatigue or selfishness put them at risk. So, the following is really my ongoing, internal checklist.

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