I'm not advocating that we set limits to get our kids used to disappointment or to bolster our authority. I'm suggesting that when we hold an overall balance, caring deeply for our kids and being aware of the big picture, there will be times that they don't get what they want.
When my kids (and I) were young, I tiptoed around these times. I wanted things to be pretty groovy all the time because it made me feel comfortable, successful, even worthwhile when my kids were cheerful and content. I did have boundaries, but they weren't as clear or purposeful as they could be. It's the same now, really, there are boundaries that it's easier to set (not buying even more processed food than I already do) and many others that are harder (no electronics upstairs would be a good one, and more kid participation in chores and responsibilities).
Although I waver on boundaries, I am learning to set them within the context of a respectful and loving relationship with my family. When one of my sons texts to say he's done with practice and I'm on the way to the farmer's market, I tell him I'll be there after I shop. He never really expected me to drop everything to pick him up, but I've kind of expected it of myself. I'm more able now to finish what is important to me rather than just care for my family.
We talk about how much data is available our family cell phone plan, and I expect my kids to stay with in reasonable limits. When they don't, I turn off their data until the new cycle starts. This is unpopular at home, although it's a pretty basic limit.
I'm aware of growing out of the belief that I should be able to make everything work. This helps me to be less likely to over do. It also helps others in my family to step up and make things work, building their confidence and competence. I'm a work in progress!
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.