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Girls and Limits: Why Setting Them Early Helps Them When They're Women

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Let's face it, it's hard to say "No." As parents we struggle with the burden of restricting fun in the name of common sense; in other words, setting appropriate and important boundaries emotionally, physically, verbally and financially.

What are the reasons? Are parents despots, power-hungry dictators who control the refrigerators and the wallets of this world in an undisguised surge of heady domination?

Surely this can't be all there is to it. For most parents would agree, we are attempting, backward though it seems at times (most times, okay), to shape and mold and structure our offsprings' little lives so that they may make sense of the world, themselves, and their place in the world as they grow.

Whew, when all is said and done, it sure is a lot of work. What are the benefits? For women, having clear and well defined boundaries and limits in childhood is probably the single most important gift that can be given by healthy and caring guardians.

For girls, and later women, are the relationship cravers, the intimacy hounds, the ones thirsty for connection, for emotional tete a tetes, for bonding. If a girl or woman does not know where her boundaries and limits are, she is going to seek out these connections anyway, and, most likely get taken for quite a wild ride.

Self help books have talked for years about loving women and those who take advantage of them, or about training women to be more assertive, less serving, less giving to other peoples' needs. Yet many women continue to distract themselves from their own needs in the name of "making someone else happy" or keeping the peace in the family, the workplace, the home.

To set clear limits and expectations that are reasonable, rational and created with her best interests in mind is to give her the gift of knowing when enough is enough. When we tell her to go to bed at a certain time, to brush her teeth, to do her chores, whatever these may be and, later, to call and say where she is the moment she arrives at her destination, to follow curfew rules, to stay clean and sober, to never drive after drinking, no matter what her friends are doing ...

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.