Beth and I live on a small farm. We have horses, chickens, dogs and cats. Over the years, we’ve at times had ducks and goats as well. A necessity with having these animals is having fences around and through our property. Fences are there to keep not to limit the freedom of our animals but to keep them safe.
Several years ago Ben, an older horse given to us for his retirement, got out and had an adventure on the dirt road we live on. The problem was this road connects to a seven lane, heavily trafficked highway. Ben could have caused an accident that could have been tragic. Fortunately we were able to corral Ben and get him back on the property without injury to him or others.
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “Good fences make good neighbors.” I’d like to modify that and suggest “A good home has good fences.” Here are a few thoughts on fences…
-Fences are boundaries. They are meant to keep things in and keep other things out. Fences can actually enhance a relationship. Our neighbors would not like us very much if we let our horses wander over and graze on their front lawn.
-Boundaries in life are important. Boundaries foster good and healthy relationships. Without boundaries we drift into co-dependent, controlling and toxic relationships that can harm, injure and destroy lives, families and homes.
American Society of Landscape Architects did some research regarding children in playgrounds…
A simple study was conducted to discover the effects of a fence around a playground and the consequent impact it would have on preschool children. Teachers were to take their children to a local playground in which there was no fence during their normal recess hour. The kids were to play as normal. The same group was to be taken to a comparable playground in which there was a defined border designated by a fence.
In the first scenario, the children remained huddled around their teacher, fearful of venturing far out of her sight. The later scenario exhibited drastically different results, with the children feeling free to explore within the given boundaries.
The overwhelming conclusion was that with a given limitation, children felt safer to explore a playground. Without a fence, the children were not able to see a given boundary or limit and thus were more reluctant to leave the caregiver. (Click here for this article)
-Fences need mending. Fences over time deteriorate. I regularly walk our fence line and have to make minor repairs, tightening up loose boards, replacing a post here and there and oiling the gates. Mending fences is a good picture. In life we will sometimes push the limits and in doing so we may have a breach, which can put us at risk. A fence which is easily broken is of no practical use. It fails to do that for which it was built.
-Lastly, in addition to mending fences, sometimes they need to be moved. You put up a pool fence when your children are toddlers. However as they get older, what was an essential security boundary becomes a limiting factor and so the fence is removed. What starts as genuine help and charity can often lead to enabling on one side and taking advantage on the other. Enabling can lead to co-dependency which can wreck a relationship. Receiving charity over a long time weighs on one’s worth and can be debilitating to building a healthy and productive life.
So think about the boundaries, the fences in your life. Where are they nonexistent? Where do they need mending? Are there some fences that need to be constructed? Are there some that have outlived their usefulness and now need to be removed? How has having boundaries helped you grow as a person? Asking these questions can move us forward in a positive way. May you continue on your journey home with an abiding sense of security and care and may all the fences in your life be just the right size and length.
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