Setting healthy boundaries with anyone is important, but when it comes to parents, that can be very hard to do since the connection you have with them is quite strong. However, when we grow up and we become parents ourselves, we may see that this connection is rooted in toxicity and control.
Adult children may feel guilty about standing up to toxic parents or just their parents in general, but setting boundaries is essential for a healthy relationship and good mental health. Creating healthy boundaries with parents is not something to shy away from, we need to let our parents know that we are adults now and respect for that is important.
If you do not set boundaries with your parents and you continuously let them invade your personal space and feel guilty whenever you stand up to them, you will always remain in this cycle which will not do you any good. Read on to learn how to set boundaries with parents and keep it going.
Why Do We Need Boundaries?
Boundaries are always important in any relationship, they keep a balance between two people and contribute to a healthy relationship. Boundaries are not there to push people away but to bring people closer so that they can understand how the other is feeling and what to do at that moment. Conflict can be reduced when emotional boundaries and personal boundaries are established early on.
What About a Parent Child Relationship?
A parent is there for you from day one, they bathe you, clothe you, and bring you up. Because of this, a parent may feel like they have this ‘control’ over you in a sense.
Not every parent feels this way, and quite a few understand that when you turn from young children into adult children you have your own life and own boundaries, but some parents feel like you are still their child, incapable of making the best decisions for yourself, and this can turn into toxic parenting.
If you feel like they are commenting negatively on your life or they use emotional blackmail to stomp your personal growth, maybe they have expressed negative feelings toward your love life and other relationships? Then now is the time to set healthy boundaries to protect your relationship with them as well as your mental health.
What Boundaries Should You Set With Your Parents?
If you are unsure about the right type of boundaries with your parents that you need to set and keep in place no matter what, then now is the time to look at a handful that is classed as setting the correct boundaries, so that you are aware of what to do next time.
- Have them not comment negatively on your life choices including work, relationships, and how you do things. If you ask for their advice then fine, but if they just come out with it randomly, a boundary needs to be set.
- Tell them to not share your personal details with anyone else, that includes other family members as well as their close friends.
- Asking them to call you before dropping by, or to understand that you cannot always take their call as you do have your own life and are busy.
These are just a few things to think about when setting boundaries with parents, so you know what to do if an issue comes up and you are not sure how to tell them that it’s crossing the line.
It Will Be Tough
You may be their child but you are an ‘adult child’ now and they need to respect your personal life so that you can keep healthy relationships going. Jot down any other incidents that you have noticed over the years and think of the reasons behind them. Setting boundaries with parents is never easy but difficult conversations need to be had for your sake as well as theirs.
How to Establish Boundaries With Your Parents
Now that you are aware of their unhealthy patterns, it’s time for you to actually think about setting boundaries with them to help you both out. Whether you just need to establish yourself as an independent person with them that needs their own space, or you seek online therapy to discuss your issues with boundaries, it is crucial that you feel seen and heard.
Think About Your Limits
Before diving into speaking with your parents about good boundaries and what you expect from them, you need to know what limits you have, and what you can and can’t tolerate so that your well being is safe.
Write It Down
Write down what you would like to have as a healthy boundary and why it matters so much to you. If you can explain clearly and have an open conversation as to why you feel like these boundaries are important they can hopefully see it from your side.
Toxic parents may try and guilt trip you or make you feel worse, but stick to your guns and let them know how you feel.
Consider Professional Help
If you know that you will find it hard to communicate and speak to your parents directly about new boundaries, then you may want to think about speaking to a therapist to help you make that next step. You may feel intimidated or worry that you will push your parent away from you, which is why a therapist will be able to help you put what you need to say into words.
What Do The Experts Say?
Judith Aronowitz, a licensed clinical social worker discusses how setting healthy boundaries in a parent child relationship will help out both parties to prevent resentment as well as create healthier attachments. Therapy can help with self esteem issues and help people with moving forward so they don’t feel stuck.
This may be tough to start with, but setting even one boundary will put you on the road to stronger mental health and better relationships.
Be Positive About What You Are Saying
It’s a delicate subject and can cause tension and upset, but frame it to them as a positive. You are not pushing them out of your life, and you do care about them, but you need these boundaries so that you can function too. It is your personal life, and no matter how much you love them and respect them, you still need to run it yourself.
Don’t Give In To Anger
Don’t lash out and get angry, if you feel your anger rising and want to yell or swear, take a deep breath and explain to them that you need to remove yourself at the moment to calm down. If they start talking back at you or yelling, it may be best to just get up and walk out. Explain that you will be back, you just need a moment.
Don’t Let Guilt Rule You
If you see that your parents feel hurt or they look like they are about to get upset, it is normal to feel guilt and to have the urge to back down. Just think about what would happen if you did that. All your hard work and self-acceptance gone out of the window because you feel guilty about setting normal and appropriate boundaries.
Guilt can stop you, but if this is what you truly want then you need to move past that feeling and show them that you are doing this to help everyone out.
Stand Your Ground
Finally, standing your ground is incredibly important to make sure that these boundaries stick and that you are able to spend time with them without feeling like you are compromising your mental health.
You may want to avoid conflict and just carry on, but if you do not set these boundaries and stick with them, you will feel miserable and may push people away.
Setting boundaries is not a bad thing. That can be said multiple times and in different ways and it will always be true. We need boundaries with parents. We are not their little children anymore who rely on them for every small thing.
Growing up is a fact of life and they need to release the apron strings to let you make your own choices, good and bad.
Hopefully, this article has been able to let you know how to set boundaries with parents and what to do if they push back. Just because they are your parents doesn’t mean you can’t stand up to them. A toxic parent or not, setting boundaries is healthy and the right thing to do.