Setting Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are the invisible lines we draw to separate ourselves from others’ behaviors. We get to make delineated boundaries about what we are willing to tolerate and not tolerate, for ourselves. We can only be pushed so far, do so much, or take so much abuse. Lacking in boundaries can result in codependency, exhaustion and resentment which leads to drama, conflict, confusion and pain.
Setting healthy boundaries doesn’t mean walking around with lines or maps to let others know what our boundaries are. We have to learn to articulate and communicate our boundaries, as well as define our boundaries through action. For example, our teens give us attitude that’s undeserved or get aggressive by throwing objects at us out of frustration. While we empathize with their struggle and can have compassion for their overwhelming emotions, we also need to set a healthy boundary that says this behavior is unacceptable for me. Instead of telling the child they are bad or wrong, we say, “I’m not okay with this behavior and if you want to communicate, you’re going to have to do it differently”.
Boundaries help us maintain our dignity, integrity and respect for ourselves, for our teens, and for others. Without boundaries we live without limitations of what we are able to tolerate, exhausting our resources for tolerating what is beyond our limit. Instead of reacting to our teens we can start responding to our teens. Once we are able to recognize our boundaries and determine when they have been crossed, we can more effectively decide what actions we want to take to enforce our boundaries and the consequences for our boundaries being crossed.
Three Steps For Setting Healthy Boundaries
The first step in solving any problem is admitting that there is a problem. In order to start setting healthy boundaries, you first need to define where boundaries need to be set, what those boundaries need to be, and how flexible with your boundaries you are willing to be in each area. Boundaries are not ultimatums, though they can be if necessary. This first step might focus more on defining your boundaries from people invading your personal values and space. The next step will focus on the boundaries you have to set for yourself in regards to other people.
Second, you need to examine your behaviors which lack boundaries in the way that you might overstep your place in other people’s lives, like your teen’s. It isn’t uncommon for parents to develop codependent behaviors which they believe will keep their children safe from drugs and alcohol.
Lastly, it is critical for parents to work with their own therapist in addition to doing family therapy with their teen in treatment. Together with your therapist you can examine your behaviors in your relationship with your child and create a healthy system of boundaries to enforce for yourself and your family.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center emphasizes family healing by bringing the family in for therapy and workshops. Through our long term residential treatment program for substance abuse, adolescents and teens have an opportunity to create a new foundation in life. For information or to verify your insurance, call us today: 662-598-4214