Why Do They Insist On Pushing Every Single Limit?

Moms of teens don’t do a great job of supporting each other. I remember long days standing around the backyard watching my toddlers play with my neighbors kids and having supportive, figure out life together, kinds of chats. That doesn’t happen much anymore. Our teens are off on their own play dates and we rarely give ourselves time to sit and chat anymore. I need it more than ever and figure that on walks with friends or in rare moments sharing a coffee with a fellow mom. Last week a friend and I had one of those rare moments where we sat in a coffee shop and talked about our teens: the good, the bad and the ugly; an honest chat about figuring out our teenagers together.

Spoiler alert:


We did not completely figure out teenagers on this particular coffee date!

But she did say something that made me laugh.

She said, “ I understand that kids are going to test limits, to walk that very fine line, but why do they have to walk right up to that line and wrap their little toes around the edge”?!?

Our job is to create the line, or rules, values, boundaries, whatever you call it; we create the line for our kids. The line is there to keep them safe, to grow them into decent human beings, to guide them with good intentions. So why the heck must they continually walk right up to that line, wrap their little toes around it and peer beyond?? Why can’t they see that line off in the distance and stay clear? Why do some kids seem to appreciate that line, while others absolutely tight rope walk it every day??

It’s a great question. Family’s with two or more kids raised by the same parents in the same house with the same line will often produce one who sees the line and stays clear and another who is constantly walking that line. I’m going to take that as it’s not our fault! How can it be our fault if we have parented each kid the same way and one is a line walker?? Always a relief when it’s not our fault. It doesn’t mean we need to read more parenting books and articles. We don’t need to join another Facebook group for strong willed, line walkers, or employ new strategies to change our kids. We just need to appreciate that each of our kids is different and unique and amazing and are simply exploring the world in their own time and way.

Here is one of my favorite explanations for why kids test the limit or walk that very fine line. http://www.kidsinthehouse.com/teenager/parenting-teens/consequences-and-discipline/tips-on-disciplining-a-teenager

This is what he is saying…..

But this is more how it feels….

And if it makes you feel any better,

A new study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology and cited by the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that there is in fact a connection between defiance and rule-breaking in adolescence and earning a high income later in life.

Rule-breaking and defiance of parental authority were the characteristic that predicted higher income and more success in career later in life!

Let those children walk that line. Let them hang their little, adorable sassy toddler feet or in our case their size 10 1/2 toes around that line as often as they need to learn about the world, to know their limits, to feel safe, to prove their independence, to laugh in the face of danger! Whatever their reason, it’s not your fault. You didn’t create a rule breaker. It’s also not your problem to fix. It is simply your job to hold the line!

I would recommend erasing some lines as they grow. It’s exhausting to hold every single line, every single time, but draw the big lines, the non-negotiable lines and hold them tight!

The novelist Wallace Stegner summed it up in his novel, All the Little Live Things: “It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which rules you want to live by.”

Keep holding the line! They are growing and learning and discovering every time they walk that line. Talk with other parents of teenagers! Find someone who loves your kids for who they are and love their kids back! We can all hold the line stronger and longer, if we have a back up mom on duty!


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