By: Jordan Montgomery, PhD, LMFT Sometimes in family relationships between adult children and their parents, communication about healthy boundaries is needed to have healthy relationships. Whether it be parents needing to set boundaries with their adult children, adult children needing to set boundaries with their parents, or both, boundaries are necessary to feel healthy. If […]
By: Jordan Montgomery, PhD, LMFT
Sometimes in family relationships between adult children and their parents, communication about healthy boundaries is needed to have healthy relationships. Whether it be parents needing to set boundaries with their adult children, adult children needing to set boundaries with their parents, or both, boundaries are necessary to feel healthy.
If you have ever experienced taking care of a family member with a substance abuse problem, mental health problem, or feel that your physical, emotional, or psychological state is being violated, then boundaries might need to be set.
Many times when working with clients learning how to establish and define what healthy boundaries are to them, it can bring up feelings of guilt, selfishness, worry, anxiety, and uncomfortableness. This is because when you start to set boundaries, family members might feel hurt, betrayed, or angry. Those emotions are for that family member to identify how to cope with, and are not your responsibility. You are not doing anything wrong by setting healthy boundaries for yourself.
When boundaries are not set or maintained, it is possible that you may start to feel codependent with another family member or loved one. Codependence is feeling responsible for, or being taken care of by someone else. Feeling responsible for someone else can make you feel burnt out or resentful. It can also enable a family member’s unhealthy behaviors or decisions. Being taken care of by someone else might make you feel guilty, especially when you are able to take care of yourself. When these types of emotions come up, it is important to keep in mind that as an adult, you are responsible for yourself, and your adult family members are responsible for themselves. The following are helpful tips for learning how to set boundaries:
-Take time for yourself: It is important to make sure that you practice self-care and fill up your cup. Have you ever heard the phrase: you can’t pour from an empty cup? You can’t do well for others if you haven’t taken care of yourself. Self-care can include meditation, yoga, exercise, taking a bath or hot shower, cooking healthy meals, journaling, spending time in nature, and deep breathing exercises. Think of self-care as anything that makes your feel energized and rejuvenated.
-Use assertive language: When communicating boundaries with family members, think of using assertive language. Assertive language means communicating your feelings, emotions, and needs. This can include statements such as, “I’ve been feeling burnt out lately, I need to take some time for myself. I’m not going to be able to make it tomorrow” or “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to help on the day you are needing help, but I am available next week at this specific day and time.” Assertive language means communicating what works for you and the other person. It means communicating your emotions and needs. It does not include being aggressive or passive in your communication. Aggressive communication might be putting someone else down or not being willing to compromise. Passive communication is allowing others to dictate how your time is spent without you having a say in the decision.
-Practice detachment with love: Detachment with love means letting your family member take responsibility for themselves, and you taking responsibility for yourself. It means detaching from the worry and burn out of taking care of someone else who needs to take responsibility for taking care of themselves. It can allow you to feel in control of yourself and letting go of the need to control others’ emotions, decisions, choices, or consequences of their behaviors.
If you need help identifying what healthy boundaries are for you and how to set and maintain them, then you can schedule an appointment with one of our skilled clinicians.
Here are other helpful resources on boundary setting: