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Every day, Elsie the cow munched lush grasses across the meadow. Safe and content within the boundaries of barbed wire, she had no thought of going anywhere else. Late one night, head-lights pointed her way. Tires squealed as a pickup truck careened off the road, ripped through the barbed wire, and snapped three cedar fence posts, leaving the way open for a midnight tour. The next morning, Farmer Brown swatted her behind, told her to get back to grazing, and repaired the fence. But exploring was much more fun. Several times each day, Elsie checked the mended section of fence, hoping to find a way out.
Our kids do the same thing. If we open the gate just one time, they believe we can be persuaded to do it again. Have you noticed that children have an annoying habit of checking the fence again and again—especially in front of other people?
For kids, grownups, or cattle, established boundaries provide empowerment. We all thrive in the meadows because boundaries allow us to relax and make tension-free choices.