The holidays are a time for love, family, and relationships. But with these wonderful experiences, many people struggle with setting boundaries. Setting boundaries is important, because it is a way to make sure that both your needs, and the needs of others are protected. When boundaries are set clearly, you tend to experience a better quality of life. However, for many people, boundaries get blurred. Having blurred boundaries often creates situations where other people feel gratitude and comfort at your expenses, or at the expenses of our family and friends. Lack of boundaries are not healthy for us individually, and they’re certainly not good on our family. If you have trouble setting boundaries, these tips will help you learn to set boundaries just in time for the holidays.
Become more aware of your families needs. After all, it would be very difficult to set boundaries around your family’s needs, if you do not know what they are. Therefore, I suggest that you know, with absolute clarity, what the needs of your family members are. For instance, if your spouse feels uncomfortable being around your mother, there is a huge likelihood that that need would need to be protected. Especially, if you also have had negative encounters with your mother for similar reasons as your spouse. It’s important to keep these things in mind, because when boundaries are not protected, people feel disrespected and invalidated and it could lead to other problems.
Honor your families needs. Once you have identified the needs of your family, you should honor their needs. This is hard to do when your family members have different needs, but it’s important to take into consideration, as much of it as possible. Let’s refer to the previous example of your spouse not liking your mother. Instead of forcing your spouse to spend the entire Thanksgiving holiday with her, you might want to suggest that your mother visit you for the holidays. This would provide a foundation, at least for your spouse, to feel more in control of his or her own environment. If the holiday must occur at your mothers house, you may want to suggest a short amount of time (i.e. 2 – 3 hours) and be willing to stick to it no matter what objections your mother might make. That way, you can accommodate both your mom’s needs and your spouses needs while taking into consideration the importance of having healthy boundaries.
Set boundaries with your extended family members and/or friends. Sometimes, friends and/or family members require a little extra attention in order to establish clear boundaries. This is often necessary when friends and families don’t respect your decisions. Let’s say your grandmother insists on buying your son a skateboard, but you don’t think that the skateboard is safe. By confronting your grandmother you run the risk of offending her. By not confronting your grandmother, your child runs the risk of getting hurt, leaving you responsible as the primary caregiver. These conversations need to be had in a way that your expectation is very clear. An example of how to address something like this is as follows: “ thank you very much for the thought, however, we have decided that Travis, is not allowed to skate on a skateboard until he’s 12 years old for safety reasons. We would be happy to accept the gift now, and hold it for him until he is of age.” This way, you are accepting your grandmother‘s gift, but within the boundaries of your household decision.
Last, but certainly not least, be calm and clear when setting boundaries. The last thing that you want to do is be uncertain about your boundaries, because if you are, they will come across as unclear. This may not seem like a big problem initially, but chances are, it will be a big problem for you later on. For this reason, I would steer clear of words like “always,” “never,” and “definitely.” Instead, I would say things like “likely,” “hopefully,” or “probably not.”
Hopefully, these tips will help you to get right where you need to be in terms of setting a boundaries just in time for the holidays. For additional help with setting these boundaries,