How to Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Family

Mental illness and familial dysfunction are common in the United States. The most recent statistics reveal that over 45 million American adults have some form of mental illness, with 11 million of those people suffering severe mental illness. 

Many people grow up in difficult and dysfunctional homes where communication is poor. Family members can be too intrusive. 

Setting boundaries with family is a key area in learning how to live your best, most authentic life. Boundary setting is a necessary act of self-care that’s also an act of compassion for others within your relationships. 

Did you grow up in a difficult home situation? You may have problems setting boundaries with parents and other family members. This can carry over into all your relationships.  The inability to set boundaries is often intertwined with co-dependency. You deserve healthy relationships, and setting boundaries is key.

Setting Boundaries with Family

When children are young, a parent’s involvement is natural. The parent takes care of the child and provides for their needs. 

As a child grows, a healthy parent steps back and gives their child room to develop their own thoughts and opinions. 

An unhealthy parent stays overly involved in a child’s life. The parent may demand that children share their opinions and behave in accordance with their will. 

There’s a lot of subtle manipulation in many parent-child relationships. When teens are exploring their own identity, they need support, space, and guidance.  Far too many families exert undue influence and demands, making it difficult for young adults to discover their true selves. 

Boundary Setting

As adults, setting boundaries with family and friends is imperative for healthy relationships. Without the ability to set healthy boundaries, you’re easily manipulated by others. How do you set boundaries?

Understand Your Own Needs First

Within the family unit, your needs and feelings are as important as everyone else’s. It’s not your job to make anyone else happy. Get clear on your own needs first. 

Find Those Who Value You

Seek out family and friends who value your thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Ask them for help setting boundaries with a difficult family member. 

If possible, see a counselor. A counselor can offer great support and teach you about co-dependency and boundaries. 

Be Kind and Stand Firm

The intrusive family member may accuse you of being mean or hurting his or her feelings, but your feelings matter too. Set boundaries in a compassionate manner. If family events are too stressful, let them know you’re taking a break for a while. 

Again, remain firm. If family members bully you through emails, calls, and texts, it’s okay to block them. Explain why you’re blocking them and that when they can engage in calm discussion, you’ll stop blocking them. 

Don’t ghost people. It’s unkind and leaves too much ambiguity. Use calm language and let them know why you’re doing what you’re doing. 

Setting Boundaries Builds Better Relationships

Setting boundaries with family and friends leads to better, healthier relationships. As an adult, you want to lead an authentic life, true to yourself. If others are manipulating you or making decisions for you, you can’t flourish. 

Understand your own needs and find those who value you. Be kind but stand firm with those who don’t respect your wants and needs. 

Need help understanding and setting boundaries? Give us a call!