Boundaries are everywhere! In sports, the field or court has a boundary you must stay within or you face a penalty. When driving the lanes are clearly defined borders! And in relationships there are lines we must walk.
Boundaries are necessary to establish and maintain any type of a healthy relationship, whether with your parents, coworkers, children, or spouse.
Boundaries are a way that allows you to say no to the things that don’t serve you and yes to those that are in your best interest. If this sounds selfish, consider parenting as a prime example of a way we must create and enforce boundaries over long periods of time.
So let’s talk parenting…
As parents, we have rules our children are expected to follow. When they are young we keep them inside a very small boundary because they aren’t capable of handling too much freedom yet. We create simple tasks like taking out the trash after school, cleaning up their rooms when they’ve been asked or not going past a certain house in the neighborhood on their bikes without an adult. We expect them to do these things or there will be a consequence, right?
As they age, if your teenage son goes to a party at a friend’s house, more than likely you’ve had “the talk” with him about being safe and making good choices like not drinking alcohol or doing drugs. These conversations create healthy boundaries because you want your son to be safe and not get hurt or in trouble. You have set an expectation for him! The expectation would be for him to adhere to the rules and come home when he has been asked to. So, as you can see, the boundary is getting a little bigger for him as he ages.
If your son decides to participate in those types of activities and comes home late and intoxicated, you’ll have a punishment of grounding or taking away his phone in addition to a sit-down talk with him. Without a consequence for overstepping your boundary, this pattern is likely to repeat.
The intention behind creating healthy boundaries with your kids is so they grow up to be strong, productive, healthy, and successful young adults. They cannot do this on their own without guidance, that’s our job as parents.
In a situation with your child, more than likely the boundaries are set and established starting at a young age. Not that you have the whole alcohol conversation with them at their Kindergarten graduation, but it’s just little things like keeping their hands to themselves. That allows your child to learn self-control. The older your child gets, the bigger the boundaries become. The more they stay in bounds, the more you will open them up. Then when they cross the line you close them a little.
By maintaining healthy boundaries in a relationship with your kids, it allows you to be the parent and not play the role of a friend or someone who enables them. The child will benefit from a parent who instills these teachings consistently.
Let’s talk about OUR OWN boundaries as an adult…
Most importantly are the boundaries that you set for yourself. Let me say that one more time for the people in the back! MOST IMPORTANTLY ARE THE BOUNDARIES YOU SET FOR YOURSELF! Maybe this involves the way someone treats you, or boundaries with your body. It’s important that you don’t let someone mistreat you in any case and there are tactful ways to go about addressing this head on.
Many people hate confrontation and would do just about anything to not cause a scene, but keeping some things to yourself is not worth sacrificing your self-worth or sanity. If someone at work is being disrespectful, you need to SPEAK UP. Let them know you don’t appreciate the way they are talking to you and try to find a middle ground to start an actual discussion.
If you’re feeling attacked for any reason, it is your responsibility to stand up and say something.
Nobody else is going to do this for you. You will get what you tolerate or put up with. So, don’t allow people to put you down even if they are “having a bad day”. That doesn’t give someone permission to belittle you.
Another important thing to remember about boundaries is the people closest to you will need them as well.
If you don’t feel like driving an hour to your little cousin’s soccer game because you and your husband finally have some alone time and have a chance to go out without the kids, you can say no. You need to respect yourself enough to fend off any guilt or shame and take the time for your marriage.
If your girlfriends want to go out on the town and make a night out of it, but you’re feeling exhausted from work and all you want to do is snuggle under the covers in your pajamas, say no. If you’re an introvert especially (those who get their energy from being alone) that down time that you’re allowing yourself can put you in a better state of mind to tackle the next day or work week.
Take time for yourself when you need it whether that be getting a massage, taking a yoga class or meeting a friend for coffee. Whatever that looks like for you, just make the space for it, put it into your calendar and do it.
Boundaries allow people to treat you how you want to and deserve to be treated.
So, don’t think of them as a bad thing. I know it may not be the easiest thing, especially with those we love to tell them how you feel, but it is necessary for healthy relationships.
How have you recently created boundaries in a relationship? Have you noticed changes in how you feel or their behavior? I would love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment below.
Personally, I love to listen to podcasts and books in my car or even at home when I am buzzing around doing chores or working out. There is an incredible series I want you to listen to about boundaries on the Mountain Christian Podcast called Pushing The Limits. Click the link for it or search for it wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, a great read for anyone who prefers to hold something in their hands, is Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend.
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