Boundaries, Trust, Consent

Today we are continuing our conversation about boundaries. Here's the transcript from a previous discussion of this article.

In general, most cultures encourage boy children to be more unruly, and girl children to be more cooperative. In this article she describes how in her daughter's playgroup, a boy would daily destroy the castle her daughter built. Frustratingly, the boy's parents did nothing about their son's behavior. They didn't try to discuss it with him or even point out that there was a problem. Instead they say things like this:

"You know! Boys will be boys!" 
"He's just going through a phase!"
"He’s such a boy! He LOVES destroying things!"
"Oh my god! Girls and boys are SO different!"
"He. Just. Can't. Help himself!"

She goes on to critique their response to the situation.

Not once did they talk to him about invading another little person's space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. It was, to them, some kind of XY entitlement. How much of the boy's behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations, and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?

Based on Boy #1's parents blanket gender explanations, my daughter and the kids around her could easily have come to the conclusion that all boys went through this phase, are so different from girls, cannot control themselves, and love destroying things. But, that's not the case. Some do. Some don’t. There are also lots of girls who are very interested in ripping things apart systematically.

"Girls will be girls?" I don’t think so. Nor do we say things like "she just can't help herself." I have heard parents of daughters so inclined say things like, "She's just so rambunctious!" or "She doesn't know her own strength yet!" But, in my experience, most people assume girls, as a class, can control themselves better, faster, more completely, and that boys have a harder time. There are many studies that indicate the reasons why this might be true, including the fact that we teach girls to delay gratification more and also to put their needs last. But, it does not appear to be innate.


Why was it okay (according to the parents) for the boy to repeatedly knock down the girl's castle?
Is it ever acceptible to repeatedly break boundaries?
Do you have any stories about something like this happening to you?

What does entitlement mean?
What are the hallmarks of a sense of entitlement?


"A good child is a compliant child."
Is a compliant child a child who does not recognise themselves as having boundaries? Or one who expects their boundaries to be routinely violated? Or whose boundaries only enclose a very narrow sense of self?

Is a bad/unruly/uncooperative child actually a child with a stronger sense of boundaries and self?


Boundaries and care-taking
How do you determine when someone is not cabable of being responsible for themselves? Are these standards different for a child, a mentally ill person, or an elderly person? What makes someone unable to take responsiblity for making decisions for themselves?
What give someone the right to say, "You're not capable of taking care of yourself, I'm going to make your decisions for you"?
At what point do you say, 'Okay, we have to determine some things for this person, because they're not taking care of themselves well enough?' At what point do we abrogate consent?
Even when someone is not allowed to make large decisions for themselves, are they allowed to set boundaries? What level of boundary is acceptible?

And once again, we can consider this question for our closing statements:
When does the group set boundaries for the individual, and when does the individual set boundaries for the group, or others in the group?

Here are some undigested thoughts I'd like to talk about if we have time:
"I'm saying the world would be a different kind of place if children were taught to respect other children’s rights from the start. Rights to be, to do, to look certain ways and not others. And that teaching children these things has profound implications for society."

Does violating boundaries deny consent?
Do we consent to boundaries?
What is the relationship of boundaries to consent?

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