Establishing and maintaining proper boundaries in family relationships is perhaps more of an art form. It’s challenging to achieve a perfect balance.
Perhaps you know some parents that seem as if they have everything together. However, most of the time, there is a lot of trial and error when it comes to boundary-setting That’s okay! It’s part of the process of parenting and having a family.
Nevertheless, here are some helpful parenting tips for setting boundaries to foster healthy family relationships.
Explain the “Why”
When establishing a boundary in your family relationships, it’s helpful to explain why you are creating it in the first place. That way, your child is less likely to think that you are trying to lord over them with arbitrary rules.
For instance, let’s say that your teen has just qualified to have their learners’ permit for driving. An excellent approach would be to sit down with them and explain the expectations of the state rules and your standards. They can hear how essential it is for their safety for them to follow these expectations. Also, you relay that there will be consequences if those rules are broken.
Avoid Being a Tyrant
Delivery is crucial when it comes to boundaries. Adults often think that they have to take a hard line and be stern with their children. However, this isn’t always the best approach, especially when laying the groundwork for new expectations.
Instead of having a “power trip” over rule-setting, sit down with your child. Help them understand why these boundaries are essential. If they struggle with the expectations, work with them to make adjustments that are agreeable to both of you.
When maintaining boundaries, it’s helpful to be reasonable when someone breaks a limit.
Suppose your child didn’t take out the trash like they said they would. You could give them an over-the-top consequence, such as being banished to their room and having zero access to the internet. You were always told to be stern and to hold a firm line with holding boundaries.
But is that honestly a reasonable consequence for something as minor as forgetting to take out the trash? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to ask them again to take out the trash? Most likely, they forgot in the first place and needed an extra reminder.
Try Not to Take It Personally
With boundaries, it’s essential not to take things personally when your child breaks them. Chances are, they will break boundaries every day. Whether they are seven years old or in their teens, all children break their parents’ boundaries. It helps to prepare for that eventuality mentally.
Also, realize that when your child does break a rule, it’s not generally malicious. It’s merely part of what it means to be a kid. Another tip is that it helps to separate yourself from the boundary.
Instead of making the boundary something personal, try to have some distance from it. The boundary should stand by itself and not be an issue you are emotionally attached to. This approach helps to avoid the anger and resentment that occurs when a child breaks a boundary.
What to Do If You Struggle
If you have trouble establishing and maintaining boundaries and notice that your family relationships are slipping, ask for help.
Talk to a therapist or counselor who specializes in these issues. They will coach you on techniques to better establish and maintain boundaries. You can review with them what worked and what didn’t. Consider this as a process that will take time and energy to refine.
Boundaries are always going to be a point of contention in families with children. What helps is knowing how to establish and adjust them if need be. However, if you struggle with boundary-setting and you’re interested in learning more or are considering therapy, please reach out for a consultation.