Two of the drives that must dealt with if families are to be emotionally healthy and achieve a balance of love and limits are the forces of togetherness and separateness. Togetherness is the force that pulls the family together while separateness is the force that pushes individual members to be independent and unique. These forces are often contrary to one another and create feelings of imbalance in parents who are attempting to balance love and limits. But both are necessary as children grow up to be independent, self-responsible adults.

The force of togetherness is necessary if children are to feel secure and protected. This force allows members to experience the home as a haven from worldly stress. It allows family members to return from school or work to a place of comfort and familiarity. Togetherness can be expressed in the way that the family spends time together; by the amount of affection shown to one another; and the manner in which they cope with crisis together. In terms of love and limits, parents will use the side of love to express care and nurturing for the child and limits to express security and structure.

Separateness is also necessary for children as they mature and become independent from parents. This is most evident in the two-year-old's tantrum and the teenagers rebelliousness. In terms of love and limits, parents use love to negotiate chores, rules, and privileges rather than impose them, in an authoritarian manner, on children. Limits are used to set consequences on a child's behavior when it goes outside the boundaries of "acceptable rebelliousness." Although some rebellion is developmentally normal for children, it can go too far and violate family values and/or children's safety.

Murray Bowen, one of the pioneers of family system theory, called the need for members to be together yet separate self-differentiation. Self-differentiation allows parents and children to maintain their own sense of self separate from the identity of the family as a whole. Balancing love and limits can be used to create self-differentiation. If love and limits are not balanced than the forces of separateness and togetherness becomes instable. If separateness outweighs the force of togetherness then members can become self-centered, cruel to one another, overly rebellious, disrespectful, lack interest in one another, emotional cutoff from the family, express false emotions and thoughts, have difficulty trusting, feel rejected, and suffer low self-esteem. If togetherness outweighs the force of separateness then members can become jealous, emotionally over-involved, feel a lack of privacy, punish all negative feelings, have a low sense of self, feel rejected for being different, gossip about one another, and feel overly anxious.

Parents can use love and limits to negotiate the forces of togetherness and separateness. Some suggestions include: Encourage free expression of thoughts and ideas, set up family meetings to discuss problems and family outings, actively listen to one another's feelings, allow a healthy amount of negative feelings, permit privacy, identify each persons uniqueness, show appreciation for cooperative and creative behaviors, allow children opportunities to make their own decisions, and experience the natural consequences of their behaviors.

Author's Bio: 

Ron is the author of the book "Love and Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting" and the founder of the and websites. Get special ecourses and reports for no charge at