When we are children our parents (or other caregivers) are responsible for us. We must listen to what they say, as they keep us safe.
However, when this constant watching over you continues when you are an adult it can be very annoying – right?
You don’t want to continue to be treated like a child and have your boundaries crossed.
Are you experiencing any of the following from your parents?
- Judgemental comments about your diet and body
- Loads of phone calls wanting to know your every move
- Being told you need to meet someone and get married
- Constant uninvited advice about how you’re looking after your children
Here are 4 tips to help you set some boundaries with your parents.
1. Think about your responses
It’s likely your parents might not even realise they are crossing a boundary and making you upset. Try to resist the urge to explode as this is unlikely to get you anywhere.
Instead, you might want to think about how you could find a way of letting them know how you feel when they say/do the things they do. Try to get them onside for working out a plan for what might work better going forward.
2. It’s OK to say “no”
You have likely learned, as a lot of people do, that it’s hard to say “no”. Maybe you think saying “no” is rude and feels uncomfortable to do.
Learning to say “no” when you don’t want to do something can be very helpful as it lets the other person (in this case, your parents) know that what they are asking for is something you don’t want to do.
It might help to think about ways of lightening the way you say “no”. For example, instead of saying “no way” or “absolutely not”, you might want to say, “I’ll think about it”, “maybe later” or “I don’t think that’s going to work for me”.
Try to find a compromise that works for you all.
For example, if you parents call you three times a day and you find that too much, explain to them why frequent calls don’t work for you. But also listen to why they want to call you so often. Listen to each other.
Explore how often you would like to speak and try to find a compromise.
4. Your needs are important too
It can be tempting to avoid talking about boundaries as you may worry that you hurt your parents’ feelings. However, if you don’t do or say anything it’s likely that you will continue to let them hurt your feelings.
Setting boundaries doesn’t have to be about choosing whose feelings matter; instead, it should be about you valuing your own needs and feelings, and sharing these with your parents to help them appreciate that as an adult you need to make your own life choices and decisions.
Setting boundaries can be hard and uncomfortable but hopefully it will be worth it.
Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.
Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.