Refocusing on Boundaries After Shelter-in-Place


We moms have had some pretty intense conversations with our children over the last few months. We’ve had to talk about why we can no longer go to school, the museum, playground, to a friend’s or even to visit family. Boundaries have been put in place as a way to keep us all healthy and safe. I encourage you to use life after shelter-in-place as a way to set boundaries that protect your children in other ways.

What does this exactly mean?

Let’s say that you were having a hard time bringing up a conversation with your own parents about how you don’t want your children to be forced to hug or kiss them.

Maybe you had a friend who was insisting on having a sleepover with “auntie” so they could bond with your child.

Perhaps your child’s athletic coach would simply adjust your child’s body so that they had better form when diving into the pool.

These are all situations where parents might need to set boundaries, even if it creates an awkward situation.

Now that we are slowly coming out of shelter-in-place and finding a new normal, I want you to also find your voice to protect your children and have those hard conversations with other adults. Especially those adults who are violating a child’s boundaries.

“Mom, I know you haven’t been able to give Bobby a hug, but it is important to ask his permission.”

“Auntie” Julie, I love that you want to have one on one time with Tina, but maybe instead of a sleepover, we could go on a picnic?”

“Coach, I appreciate that you want Sammy to have perfect form when diving, but I would rather you model it for her than touching her.  Unless she says it is OK.”

Some moms may find it easy enough to have these conversations. But other moms are extremely empathetic and struggle to find a balance. We are all leaving shelter-in-place with new protections (face masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, staying out of large indoor crowds). Some of those protections should go beyond preventing COVID-19 and should be used to prevent child sexual abuse and boundary violations.


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Tracy owns Safe Spaces, a consulting and training firm that focuses on building resilient families, communities and organizations ( She is also an Authorized Facilitator and Certified Instructor with Darkness to Light,, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. Tracy has taught pre kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade and has served as a Site Administrator for an elementary school. Currently, she is a Teacher-in-Residence with Prezi and also a college and career advisor for Students Rising Above. Tracy grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education and child abuse prevention. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to a 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. Self-care includes getting to know her new community, having lunch with friends, pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family.


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