Being out of bounds is more than a call in a football game

Dear Readers,

I believe the word “Rude” should be taken out of the Bahamian dictionary. I make this declaration since the average Bahamian describes every undesirable behavior of a child, as rude. While the orthodox definition of rude generally floats around words such as impolite, unmannerly, discourteous and ill mannered, deciding what is “rude,” is often a cultural call. In many instances, I understand why Bahamians use the word as they do.
Last Summer I visited a friend in a distant land. While there, I had an important appointment and my friend solicited a friend of his to transport me. I was grateful to his friend who proved cordial. She had her mother and three children, ages 13, 11 and six in the van. I was accompanied by my older daughter.

A conversation ensued encouraging all riders to partake. I made a jovial comment about a question that was asked by the youngest child. He turned to me and responded, “That is not the answer, duh!” Neither his mother nor grandmother uttered a sound. At that moment, I thought of several Bahamians (including a few siblings), who would have landed a few spanks on his bottom; or at the very least, offered a verbal reprimand.

Parents need to know where and when their children are out of bounds; after all, being out of bounds is more than a call made in a football game. This is called, establishing boundaries. This is when you let your child know he/she has said or done something that is unacceptable or inappropriate.

This correction teaches a child what and when to make certain disclosures, as well as, what conversations are peer related and adult centered. It promotes respect for all. This task is important as it encourages restraint later in life. Restraint builds conscience. Many adults lack boundaries training and get into trouble for crossing lines.

Sometimes, parents find it difficult to correct their children, because they are more concerned about being friends than having an appropriate parent, child relationship. Let’s face it, most people would rather live in peace, than to have negative vibes in the air. When parents correct their children, even when done in love, they run the risk of having fewer interactions and a period of ‘shutting down.’

This can make for uncomfortable living. However, when the correction is not done, it can lead to public humiliation. So, decide which is the lesser of two evils, or better still, with which you can live.
Boundaries put up invisible fences that filter the good content from the undesirables. Boundaries teach self-control and socially acceptable customs. Got boundaries?

Dr. Pam
Point to ponder: Draw the lines in the conversations.
• Ask Doctor Pam is an advice column that is featured every week in this journal. Your letters and comments are encouraged. You may e-mail them to, or write to Askdoctorpam P.O. Box F43736. Dr. Pam is a Clinical Psychologist trained in all areas of mental health.

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