By David Joel Miller
Your failure to set reasonable boundaries can be harming your children.
Many parents have weak, almost invisible boundaries. It is easy to confuse having boundaries with being rigid and inflexible. Being lenient with your children and having no boundaries is not the same thing by a long shot.
Consider that we often teach others how to treat us. Not having boundaries or not having appropriate boundaries with other adults in our lives teaches our children that boundaries are not important.
A family without boundaries.
Some families have little or no boundaries. The people in these families do whatever they want. Kids come and go as they please. Adults behave in inappropriate ways.
If you grew up in a family like that you may have gotten the message that your parents were not able to control you. If they couldn’t control you then maybe you can’t be controlled.
Weak boundaries impair self-control.
The result of growing up with weak boundaries was that you found it progressively more difficult to control yourself. Good boundaries for adults and children help kids to learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not. It helps them learn self-control.
Weak boundaries can make you part of someone else.
Some families develop a more enmeshed pattern of interaction. Children are expected to think, feel, and act just as their parents do. This results in becoming disconnected from your feelings. When asked how you feel you may respond by telling others how you should feel rather than being able to find a genuine emotion inside you.
If you never had boundaries growing up you can be in for some real problems when you get into an adult relationship.
Not learning appropriate boundaries as a child puts you at risk to get into relationships with people who will not respect your boundaries. The cycle repeats itself.
The other issue that we often see is parents who just can’t let go. Their children, now adults, find it hard to set boundaries with their family of origin.
There is a lot of truth to those old in-law jokes. New couples find it hard to tell their parents no and set boundaries to keep those in-laws out of their new relationship. This can result in unhappy romantic relationships or blow up’s with the families you came from.
Learning boundaries as an adult.
It is hard learning to set appropriate boundaries when you are an adult. Children should learn what is OK and what is not and then as they grow they begin to establish for themselves what things are boundaries for them and what things they find OK.
Remember that as relationships and your life changes you need to strengthen and reinforce your boundaries.
Boundaries with ex’s.
Another boundary that is problematic is the one you draw with ex’s. Not keeping good boundaries with your ex’s can ruin your new relationship. Yes some of you have baby’s fathers and baby’s mothers. You will always have a relationship with them through your children. But don’t let them cross your boundaries and try to continue an unhealthy relationship with you.
Never being who you are and the person who is in charge creates confusion for children and can make your life miserable.
Keep working on setting realistic appropriate boundaries with people in your life and your children will learn from you. Good fences make for good neighbors and good boundaries make for a happy life and a good recovery.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
- Could you use some help? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- When you mind magnifies your problems (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Mental Health Monsters – Depression and Anxiety (counselorssoapbox.com)
- More on how to be happy (counselorssoapbox.com)
- The voices in your head – depression, anxiety and fear – they lie (counselorssoapbox.com)