- How To Set Healthy Boundaries With Parents (And What That Looks )
- Why setting boundaries with parents is so important.
- What healthy boundaries with parents look .
- How to set boundaries with parents.
- 2. Be assertive and compassionate.
- 3. Demonstrate appreciation.
- 4. Practice the «broken record» technique.
- 6. Release any guilt about having boundaries.
- Setting Boundaries with Family Members
- Unhealthy boundaries often result from dysfunctional family histories. The needs of parents or other adults in a family are sometimes so overwhelming that the task of raising children is demoted to a secondary role and dysfunction is the ly result. For example, if a parent screams at their children or becomes physically abusive with them as a way of dealing in a self-centered way with their own anger, this is putting their needs first and the needs of the children for safety, security, respect and comfort second. What the children learn in this situation is that boundaries don’t matter. As they grow up, they lack the support they need to form a healthy sense of their own identities. In some situations, they may learn that if they want to get their way with others, they need to intrude on the boundaries of other people, just the way their parent did, leading to dysfunctional relationships later in life. They wall themselves off in relationships as a way of protecting themselves, and, as a consequence, may find it difficult to form close interpersonal bonds with others in adulthood
- Setting appropriate boundaries with people is hard enough, but when it’s family it’s even harder. These are the people that we turn to for love and support our entire lives, and now we have to set up a line, which says this is what is appropriate and this makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s extremely hard to do, but necessary for our wellbeing and our relationships. I keep the following in mind when setting healthy boundaries with my own family, as well as when helping my clients set boundaries with their loved ones
- Often times setting boundaries with people and in relationships can be a challenge. With family, it’s an even bigger challenge. We grow up taking on certain roles in our family; peace maker, scapegoat, lost child, victim, hero, mascot, and the enabler. With these roles come specific behaviors that are learned and belief systems. The beliefs and learned behaviors make it a challenge to set boundaries and it can bring about feelings of guilt. However, healthy and realistic boundaries with family are important and here are some tips:
- Make sure you’re following Caring Therapists of Broward on get other great tips and weekly blog post updates
How To Set Healthy Boundaries With Parents (And What That Looks )
Growing up, it's expected for our parents to set rules around curfew, cleanliness, household chores, how to treat others, and establish routines. Parents also set boundaries with their kids in hopes to help them become independent.
But things start to get complicated when children grow up into adults, yet the parent struggles with the balance between being a parent and letting their adult child have their own life.
If this is an area of tension in your family, here's what you need to know about setting healthy boundaries with parents.
Why setting boundaries with parents is so important.
Setting boundaries with your parents is important for various reasons: It prevents you from building resentment toward them and promotes healthy, enjoyable interactions, while also helping you further establish individuation—that is, having an identity outside of your relationship with your parents. Without proper boundaries, parents may believe and feel that it is OK for them to be imposing their beliefs and ways of living onto their adult children.
While these conversations can be difficult to have, they are necessary in developing a healthy relationship with them and with yourself. The end result of setting healthy boundaries with your parents can lead to a decrease in anxiety, resentment, improved ability to manage conflict, and healthy self-esteem.
What healthy boundaries with parents look .
Healthy boundaries with parents involve mutual acknowledgment that you are an adult with your own thoughts, opinions, beliefs, experiences, and needs. It means owning your needs and being able to say no when you want to say no and yes when you want to say yes.
Examples of poor boundaries from a parent might look :
- Having unexpected and frequent visits from them
- Unsolicited input about your partner
- Unsolicited advice about how you're raising your children
- Having them buy things for your home without asking you
- Frequent comments about your diet or body
- Interfering in your personal life
Setting boundaries with parents look :
- Identifying what your own unique values are, some of which may be different from theirs
- Being able to act in a way that is consistent with your values and beliefs
- Being clear on what you need
- Establishing rules on how you would to be treated.
How to set boundaries with parents.
Before coming to your parents with what you would for them to adjust, first ask yourself what is bothering you and explore why. Conceptualize the issue. Identifying how their specific behavior makes you feel will help you feel more confident and secure in asking for what you want.
Being clear and concise means being straightforward and stating exactly what it is you need from them without apologizing. Make sure that your request is concrete, coherent, and measurable.
For example, this comment might not go over well: «Please stop dropping by unexpectedly all of the time, because it's getting really annoying.»
Try this instead: «It is difficult for me when you drop by unexpectedly. Moving forward, can you call first? And remember I can only spend time with you on the weekends.»
The more you practice being concise, the easier it gets.
2. Be assertive and compassionate.
Being assertive involves stating how you feel and what you need without trying to hurt the other person. This includes maintaining eye contact, maintaining a sense of calm, being open to having a conversation, actively listening to the other person, monitoring your tone, having a straight posture, and being direct.
At the same time, being compassionate is also important. This means understanding where your parents may be coming from and understanding the difficulties they may be experiencing in letting go of the role they once had in your life, while also simultaneously honoring your needs. Practicing compassion helps us stay grounded and come from a place of love versus defensiveness.
3. Demonstrate appreciation.
When setting a boundary with your parent, it may help to show appreciation toward what you are grateful for in the relationship, and perhaps the intent behind their behaviors.
For example, if you have a parent that ongoingly interferes in your relationship, you can state that you appreciate their concern for you or appreciate that they want what's best for you, but you also would for them to stop trying to get involved in your romances because you are capable of making your own decisions.
Showing your parents appreciation tells them that you still value them showing up in your life. You just would how they show up to look differently.
4. Practice the «broken record» technique.
If your parents combat your requests for healthier boundaries, try the «broken record» technique. This is a practice in assertive communication where you do not engage in tangents, arguments, or circular conversation.
Rather, you continue to repeat your needs clearly and concisely over and over. This demonstrates that you are sticking to your boundaries and are not interested in engaging in an argument or negotiation about your boundaries.
An example of the broken record technique might look saying «I am not engaging any further; stop making comments about how I am raising my children» and saying this as many times as you feel comfortable. This technique conveys and reinforces your message without getting into trying to justify why you want certain boundaries in place.
Take the time to be clear about what you are willing to tolerate and not tolerate from them. Where will you draw the line? For example, can you only manage talking on the phone with your parents once a month? Every day? There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to set limits with your parents. This is a healthy part of individuation.
Additionally, if the conversation isn't going in a direction that is helpful or productive, know when it is time for you to end the conversation.
Pay attention to how you are feeling and how much discomfort is healthy for you to tolerate.
If you feel you need a break or walk away from the conversation, it's important to do so to prevent yourself from getting angry and escalating the conversation.
6. Release any guilt about having boundaries.
Setting boundaries with parents can stir up feelings of doubt, fear, and guilt. In order for us to be able to practice assertive communication and compassion toward ourselves, we have to practice recognizing feelings of guilt around setting boundaries.
Guilt can be an indicator that we feel we are doing something wrong, and it's important to fully know that setting boundaries with your parents is not wrong. It is just is.
Boundaries are an important part in preserving the relationship and building your sense of self.
A practice in releasing guilt can be reciting affirmations «I deserve to express myself» and «I am allowed to have my needs met.»
At the end of the day, you get to decide your boundaries and your terms. Remind yourself of why you are setting your boundaries, and practice self-validation and self-compassion before, during, and after the conversation with your parents.
Setting Boundaries with Family Members
1. Ask permission
It’s important to ask family members if you can give them feedback or offer advice. Ask them “Can I give you some feedback?”. If they say yes, you have their permission to give your feedback. If they say no, you need to respect their boundaries and keep your opinion to yourself.
2. Learn to say no
This is one of the most pivotal skills you can learn. You don’t always have to say yes just because a family member asks you something. You can say no to their requests and do it without guilt. Learn to check in with yourself first to see what your gut tells you and then respond.
3. Step away
There are some times when family members cross your boundaries so much that you don’t have much of a choice but to step away. You may choose to tell them you are stepping away or you can step away without feeling guilty.
There are no exact steps you can take with your family. You can decide that you want to have strong boundaries and then begin to take small steps to reinforcing them. You have the ability to make your boundaries are strong or fluid as you decide.
The key ingredient is that you are the one who makes the boundaries. If you want to talk to your mother every day and this feels good to you, then do it. If you don’t want to go home for Christmas, then don’t. You get to decide what works for you.
Setting boundaries can be one of the healthiest things you do for yourself and the relationship.
Amanda Landry, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena.
Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here.
For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-378-5381 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unhealthy boundaries often result from dysfunctional family histories. The needs of parents or other adults in a family are sometimes so overwhelming that the task of raising children is demoted to a secondary role and dysfunction is the ly result. For example, if a parent screams at their children or becomes physically abusive with them as a way of dealing in a self-centered way with their own anger, this is putting their needs first and the needs of the children for safety, security, respect and comfort second. What the children learn in this situation is that boundaries don’t matter. As they grow up, they lack the support they need to form a healthy sense of their own identities. In some situations, they may learn that if they want to get their way with others, they need to intrude on the boundaries of other people, just the way their parent did, leading to dysfunctional relationships later in life. They wall themselves off in relationships as a way of protecting themselves, and, as a consequence, may find it difficult to form close interpersonal bonds with others in adulthood
What are some signs of unhealthy boundaries? Here is a list:
- Telling all
- Talking at an intimate level at the first meeting
- Falling in love with a new acquaintance
- Falling in love with anyone who reaches out
- Being overwhelmed or preoccupied by a person
- Acting on the first sexual impulse
- Being sexual for your partner, not yourself
- Going against personal values or rights to please others
- Not noticing when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries
- Not noticing when someone invades your boundaries
- Not noticing when others react negatively to your behaviors
- Accepting food, gifts, touch, sex that you don’t want
- Touching a person without asking
- Taking as much as you can get for the sake of getting
- Giving as much as you can give for the sake of giving
- Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you
- Letting others direct your life
- Letting others describe your reality
- Letting others define you
- Believing others can anticipate your needs
- Expecting others to fill your needs automatically
- Falling apart so someone will take care of you
- Self abuse
- Sexual and physical abuse
- Food and chemical abuse
- Rigid, inflexible boundaries
Some of the ways that unhealthy boundaries interfere with relationships include; lack of self identity, settling for second best, over-responsibility and guilt, not knowing the difference between love and rescue or lacking the understanding between fantasy and reality.
When you move into accepting yourself, your relationships will actually have a chance to grow and flourish. This journey of self-discovery can be challenging – but highly rewarding. It means coming to know ourselves and increasing our awareness of what we stand for. It also means self-acceptance and knowing that we are OK as we are and worthy of the good things in life.
Working with a trained therapist can provide the structure and support needed to take on this task.
Are you ready to dive into self-discovery and establish healthy boundaries in your life? Call me today for your free consultation at 561-408-1098 with offices in Boca Raton, FL and virtually.
Hi, I’m Jennifer Bishop, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Boca Raton, Florida. I offer services at my office as well as virtually. I specialize in working with children ages 3 to 12 and their parents. I also specialize in working with adults who have gone through a major life event and are seeking healing from this so they can live the life they were meant to live.
Setting appropriate boundaries with people is hard enough, but when it’s family it’s even harder. These are the people that we turn to for love and support our entire lives, and now we have to set up a line, which says this is what is appropriate and this makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s extremely hard to do, but necessary for our wellbeing and our relationships. I keep the following in mind when setting healthy boundaries with my own family, as well as when helping my clients set boundaries with their loved ones
Know your comfort zone- You have to be aware of your own comfort zone. If you aren’t, you have to learn what your comfort zone is and what isn’t. You also need to know what the other person’s comfort zone is. More than ly a mother isn’t going to want to know about her child and their intimacy levels with anyone, and vice versa.
Be Assertive- Be honest and assertive and instead of making jokes or getting mad, tell your loved one how you feel. Remember assertiveness helps you to get your needs met, without using anger, and helps to alleviate the frustration of not getting your needs heard.
Know when to walk away or hang up- If someone cannot respect your boundaries, then sometimes you have to be the person that does do the hard work and have to be respectful and say, Ok well I will talk to you later, and either leave or hang up the phone, end the text, etc. It is hard to do, but it works well, because it gives you the ability to respect yourself and YOUR boundaries.
In the end you are the one who has to be comfortable and not feel awkward, but remember setting boundaries is healthy and will keep the relationship healthy for longer.
Ilene Glance is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alabama, and went on to get her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.
She has worked with all ages and populations ranging from 5 year old to 80.
She is an active member in the American Counseling Association, and has received trainings and certificates in addictions, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Enhancement and Motivational Interviewing. She also is currently a NCC and CCHMC Certified Counselor.
Often times setting boundaries with people and in relationships can be a challenge. With family, it’s an even bigger challenge. We grow up taking on certain roles in our family; peace maker, scapegoat, lost child, victim, hero, mascot, and the enabler. With these roles come specific behaviors that are learned and belief systems. The beliefs and learned behaviors make it a challenge to set boundaries and it can bring about feelings of guilt. However, healthy and realistic boundaries with family are important and here are some tips:
Be assertive – say what you mean and mean what you say.
Own what it is you set – identify what boundaries are necessary and own your decision
Understand that there will be resistance – people are used to your family role. They are used to boundaries and it will take time for you and others to adjust
Notice – pay attention to whether or not your boundaries are wavering. Are you causing confusion due to inconsistent boundaries or are you being clear and consistent?
Don’t give up – setting boundaries is new and can be challenging. Don’t give up just because someone may try and violate your boundary, keep being assertive and standing your ground.
Assimilate – keep true to your word because all you have to believe is what you tell yourself. This means you need to change your behavior to match your intentions and the changes you are making.
Remember – it’s important to remember that healthy boundaries will keep your relationships healthy. Boundaries help prevent enmeshment and are part of self-care.
You matter – your well-being is just as important as everyone else in your life. If you aren’t taking care of yourself and being your best self how can you help anyone else? No matter how uncomfortable it is to set boundaries it’s an important piece of having healthy relationships.
A great read for setting boundaries is Boundaries Where You End And I Begin: How To Recognize And Set Healthy Boundaries, by: Anne Katherine
Stephanie Savo is a licensed mental health counselor who has been practicing therapy since 2008. She graduated with her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.
Stephanie has experience working with adolescents and young adults.
She has been working with adolescents and young adults who experience depression, anxiety, trauma, low self-esteem and worth, lack of identity and individuality, and who want to be empowered.
Stephanie utilizes a variety of therapeutic techniques when working with her clients. She treats the person and the symptoms they are experiences rather than the label.
She focuses on taking a collaborative and eclectic approach with her clients to help them get to their desired goals.
Stephanie models for and assists her clients with consistent growth and personal development as she does in her own life.
Make sure you’re following Caring Therapists of Broward on get other great tips and weekly blog post updates