Why. Why is this SO hard? You’re successful. You are an independent, strong, and brilliant woman! For goodness sake….you are a grown-up! What in the world happens when we are with our families that throws us into this “time machine” of a boundary mess? Sometimes, the family systems we’ve grown up with simply don’t want to let us change.
Healthy Boundaries with Family Could Be New to You
I would be surprised if you were raised with excellent boundaries. Specifically, raised to understand, develop and maintain healthy boundaries for yourself and your relationships. Not that your parents are toxic, or even oblivious, but because human beings are perfectly imperfect. It’s just not something most families focus on. Plus, if you’re reading this, it’s probably because you want more insight into exactly what you can do to help manage boundaries with your parents now that you are an adult.
Classic example of a boundary violation:
“I’m just trying to help”
…but was that help actually wanted? Was that help invited?
Why is setting healthy boundaries with our parents so hard?
Some parents don’t want you to be grown up. Not because they actively want to hold you back, but because they don’t now know what to do. Who are they, now that you are not their primary focus? When a parent’s primary role is to be a parent, it can be difficult to know how to relate to their grown children as the adults they now are. This is a transition, a developmentally appropriate one.
What do these unhealthy boundaries feel like?
- Judging what you are doing
- Unrealistic expectations
- Fostering fear instead of love
A Note About Setting Boundaries with Toxic Parents
When someone is a skilled emotional manipulator, it can feel like you are on drugs. It’s captivating, disorienting, and sometimes a bit maddening. Gaslighting (messing with your sense of reality…undermining your sense of self and what is true) makes us feel unstable and confused. This is NOT your fault. This is fully their issue and something that only they can truly fix. However, some of the tips in this post, and in the vast array of literature on boundary management can still help you thrive in spite of toxic parents. If this is you, I highly recommend seeking a trained therapist to talk through all of this with at length.
What is NOT helpful when trying to establish healthy boundaries with your parents as an adult?
Getting in your head and obsessing over what you could have or “should” have done differently is just going to make you feel like you can never do anything right. Instead, just take the next right action. (Cue “The Next Right Thing” from Frozen 2)
What can you do to help establish healthy boundaries with your parents as an adult?
Honestly, this advice is simple: Begin lovingly drawing boundaries with ease and grace, in a way that does not allow for the boundary to be crossed.
For example, if your parents are trying to establish a friendship or to forever be the “cool mom”, it is okay to say something like, “I am making a simple request that you not call my friends or request to be friends with them on Facebook without talking with me about it first.”
Perhaps you’re the “hero child”, and that label has followed you into adulthood. You are the one who is automatically expected to keep the peace, outshine the rest of your peers, clean up your siblings’ messes, and tolerate your parents’ every whim. But, this has started to affect your life (let’s be honest…it “started to interfere” a LONG time ago) and you need something to change. Congratulations on recognizing this! That is huge. This label feels GOOD. It’s the epitome of praise and often a high priority for my clients who struggle with perfectionism. So, this one takes little steps. When you find yourself being put in the middle of an argument or disagreement, gracefully step right back out with an “I’m going to let you both talk privately about this so I am not in the middle.” If your sibling has a mess to clean up, you can lovingly say, “Oh no, that sounds really tough. What are you going to do first to fix it?”. You are still a part of the family, but do not have to be the “glue” holding everything together. That is a huge weight to bear. Take a break, my friend. That will feel really great, too.
Some other common examples of boundary violations from parents can include:
- Not calling before coming over.
- Calling/texting constantly and not understanding why you say no.
- Auto-advice giving.
- Judging child-rearing.
- Interfering with a spouse or personal life.
- Judgment and shame.
Overall, the message here is to remember who the adults are here. ALL of you. You are a full-grown adult human being. One who is perfectly capable and responsible for your life. You get to set boundaries that are not to be crossed, and the opinions of your parents are theirs to own. The people who love you the most may have a hard time adjusting at first, but they will get used to it. Hold strong. You can do this.
“You can exercise control over your actions alone, never on the outcome of your actions. Do not be anxious about the outcome of your actions. Do not develop a habit of inaction either.” – Ram K. Pipariya
So, how do YOU want to live? What do you want to cultivate more of? Where are you feeling drained? Like the Boundary Boss herself, Terri Cole, says: “You have a right to be self-determined in this life.”
Begin Codependency Treatment for Women in Miramar, FL or Start Online Therapy in Florida
You may benefit from reading some of our other boundaries posts or codependency treatment page, including healthy sexual boundaries and professional boundaries. If you are looking for a therapist who specializes in helping women like you set loving boundaries with grace, look no further. Enid is here to support your mental health journey in all of its forms. To begin therapy for women in Broward County in-person or for online therapy in Florida, follow these three steps:
Contact Counseling Solutions of Boward to schedule your free 20-minute consultation on a video platform,
Meet with Enid and get to know her!
Live life with more balance and healthy boundaries!
Other Therapy Services Offered at Counseling Solutions of Broward
In addition to providing codependency treatment for women in Florida, Enid De Jesus offers a variety of mental health services at her counseling clinic in Broward County, FL. Her goal is to create lasting transformative change and growth in your life. So, she offers anxiety treatment, depression treatment, counseling for imposter syndrome, after divorce counseling, and relationship counseling for one. For more information on counseling, please check out the what to expect page or contact our South Florida counseling office.