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Release any guilt about having boundaries

Setting boundaries with parents can create feelings of doubt, fear and guilt. Guilt can indicate that we feel like we are doing something wrong.

Know that setting boundaries with your parents are not wrong. It is an integral part of building your sense of self and preserving the relationship.

Setting boundaries with parents

Setting boundaries with parents

Setting boundaries with your parents prevent you from building resentment towards them. It fosters good and enjoyable interactions and helps you build an identity that is separate from your parents.

Without proper boundaries, parents may continue to impose their believes and customs onto their adult children.

Demonstrate appreciation

When setting a boundary with your parent, first show appreciation toward what you are grateful for in the relationship.

For example, suppose your parents continue to interfere in your relationship. In that case, you can state that you appreciate their concern for you and that they want what's best for you, but you would like for them to stop trying to get involved because you need to make your own decisions.

Setting boundaries: Be clear and concise

Ask yourself what is bothering you and why. Be straightforward and state what it is you need from your parents without apologising. Your request should be coherent and measurable.

Instead of saying, "Please don't drop by all the time, it's getting annoying," try, "It's difficult for me when you drop by unexpectedly. Moving forward, can you call first?"

Try the "broken record" technique

Do not engage in arguments or circular argumentation. You repeatedly state your needs clearly and concisely. This shows that you are sticking to your boundaries.

For example, "I am not engaging any further on how I raise my children" and saying it as many times as you need to.

Poor boundaries from a parent

Healthy boundaries with parents mean that they acknowledge you are an adult and have your own opinions and beliefs, and can make your own decisions.

Examples of poor boundaries from a parent:

  • You receive unexpected and frequent visits from them.
  • They give unsolicited advice about your partner and how you're raising your children.
  • They buy things for your home without your input.
  • They frequently comment about your diet and lifestyle.
  • They interfere in your personal life.

Know your limits

Consider where you will draw the line. For example, can you only manage to talk on the phone with your parents once a month? Every day?

If a conversation is not fruitful, know when you need to break or walk away to prevent you from getting angry and intensifying the discussion.

Be assertive and compassionate

Being assertive means saying how you feel and what you need but not hurting your parents. This includes maintaining eye contact, a sense of calm, being open to having a conversation, actively listening, monitoring your tone, an upright posture, and being direct.

However, also be compassionate, meaning you understand where your parents may be coming from and the difficulties they may be experiencing in letting go of the role they had for so long in your life.

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