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Establishing boundaries!


It’s high time I started establishing healthy boundaries.

I have boundary issues. I never really knew this until recently when we invited our dog trainer to come to the house and assist us in curtailing some of our dog’s negative behaviors. I thought it was silly when she asked me go toe to toe with the sleeping pup at my feet. “But I’ll wake her,” I insisted.

“But she’s lying on your feet.” The trainer countered. “Just come around to the front of her and tell her to move.”

I reluctantly did as instructed and my adoring fur ball barely looked up at me. “Come on,” I said, “Move.” Nothing. Then the trainer walked up to her and sternly commanded her to move and she was up and out of there like a shot. “She doesn’t respect you,” the trainer determined. “You need to set boundaries. What do you do if she’s lying right in front of you usually?”

I gazed at the floor for a moment, like a child whose hand had just been discovered wrist deep in a decorative jar of Oreos. “Well…I…walk around her,” I confessed. “Especially if she’s sleeping. I never want to wake her up.”

“OK, here is the problem,” the trainer offered in a voice teetering on the edge of judgmental. “You are the leader here. She thinks she’s in charge. She is running the house right now. Frankly, she’s trained you.”

I felt embarrassed. I mustered all of my internal leadership qualities and strode up to S’more. “Move!” I announced in my best leadership tone. “Move!” She once again looked at me askance. “I am serious. Move.” I gently pushed her paws back with my feet. Still she lounged restfully. Finally, I clapped my hands, wedged my toes under her paws firmly and insisted, “MOVE.” She reluctantly arose and sauntered a few feet away to seemingly appease my unusual behavior.

“I did it,” I said gleefully. And that’s when it hit me. This isn’t a new problem. If you think of this microcosmically, this represents a much bigger issue affecting parents today. You see, this is the same problem I, and so many of us, have with our offspring. We’ve put their needs so high above our own that we’ve lost all sense of leadership and control in the relationships.

I never want to wake my sleeping dog. Even when she’s lying in the spot on my bed where I want to lie. That’s ridiculous. I see that. But it’s true. Likewise with my children. They want to go to the park when I need to work. What happens? We go to the park. They want to play games when I need to grocery shop. What do we do? We bargain. “OK,” I say. “Let’s play a game and then we can go to the grocery store.” In essence, I am living in a world of constant negotiation and cow-towing to other creature’s needs and wants. And I’m tired of it.

It is time to do what I want to do. Being a parent or an owner should not mean that you always have to do what everyone else wants. Sometimes I want to decide whether we go to CPK or SouperSalad for lunch. I want the choice of what we listen to on the radio. I want to be the monarch and all other creatures can be my loyal subjects.

So I’m turning over a new leaf. From this point forward I am in charge. I get to say what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, and how it’s going to be done. I’m serious. As long as nobody minds me taking charge. K?

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

One response to “Establishing boundaries!

  1. Mack Burly ⋅

    Yeah, this is going to work out just fine. Like my old man used to say, “Grow a set!”

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