By Guest Blogger Virgina LeGall

As parents of a three year old active and fun-loving child we are always assessing which boundaries are necessary for healthy child development. Allowing for both independence and safe exploration whereby maintaining security and consistency as parents, no easy feat!

The Oxford English dictionary online defines a ‘Barrier’ as a fence that prevents movement or access, an obstacle that keeps people or things apart. In contrast a ‘Boundary’ is a limit of something abstract especially a sphere of activity, a line which marks the limits of an area.

Our society sets unspoken boundaries, we establish individual boundaries for ourselves and others. These may vary with each childhood and adult experience. Sometimes life throws us experience that can cause confusion of our boundaries and replaces these healthy and respectful ‘bridges’ in life with destructive barriers.

Recent news has brought to our attention the very sad and real crisis of refugees fleeing Syria and surrounding areas. Not to move the focus onto political issues but to highlight the re-establishment of physical barriers in Europe, the border in Hungry, created from fear, not from those seeking entry but fear of those already in the country blocked to the possibility of something different, maybe challenging but ultimately for the greater good for both the refugees and the country welcoming them.

Boundaries could easily replace this hostility with order, support and honesty.

Revisiting the ‘bridges in life’, imagine a beautiful meadow on the other side of a low stone bridge with a slow flowing stream passing through – this, a depiction of a ‘healthy boundary’ in life, set with thought and care but accessible with little effort, respect and ease.

A barrier that sometimes replaces the boundary bridge once it has been compromised by say, an oversized thundering truck or a flood which causes the stream to become an overflowing river. This barrier – An obstacle is built to prevent any further way back to the meadow on the other side. Even when a fence or wall is built as a temporary measure it sometimes become permanent and rigid due to other focus that takes priority.

It is not to give up hope, not to keep fighting, pounding fists against the wall but to sit back and find focus again, listen to the sounds coming from behind this self-made barrier. Allow ourselves to revisit this wall to look at it from top to bottom, left to right and find the loose part which will begin the  gentle process to take this barrier down to see the way forward once again.

You may ask yourself, “that’s all very well, but how do I know that this is a barrier and not a boundary, maybe it is protecting me from something behind that is dangerous and frightening”. That’s the point- the moment we recognise it as a barrier we acknowledge that it is only Fear, preventing us facing what is real.

Often the fright of what is on the other side is distorted and out of balance and our perception increases this fear of the reality to something frightening that we cannot possibly face. Here is the truth behind that wall – however frightened you are of what you will face, by recognising this for what it is: an illusion of Fear. Then you will be able to reset your ‘Bridge’, the boundary which will allow you time and space to feel ready to walk forward and greet the sunny meadow on the other side of the small bridge with the slow flowing stream below to embrace the onward journey.


Author Biog

Virginia LeGall is a specialist public health nurse based in the South West. Having lived in London for the last 25 years she has moved with her family to live a quieter life by the sea.