They say family is forever, and society tends to place these individuals above all others. However, you don’t need to ignore your own needs in favor of anyone else’s. This includes family. Setting boundaries with family members is as important for your emotional well-being as any other individual. It may require a different strategy than other types of boundary setting, but it can be done. Your family isn’t entitled to your emotions, time, or effort any more than anyone else is. The following tips for setting boundaries with your family will help you learn to preserve your interests without guilt.
Consider Your Strategy
You may know your family members better than others in your life. This knowledge actually gives you an advantage in setting boundaries with them. Consider which type of approach might work best with individual family members. For example, killing your cousin with kindness might be the least stressful way to get your point across and achieve the results you desire, while your pushy mother might require a more direct approach. Being strategic with family members can save you time, energy, and frustration.
Cushion the Blow
An approach that can be quite effective with family members and others you’re close to is the use of “I” statements. This technique involves putting the focus on yourself rather than on the other person to cushion the blow. For example, you could tell your mom, “I feel hurt when you don’t acknowledge my efforts.” instead of saying, “You never notice when I do things.” This approach can lessen defense mechanisms and allow for a better understanding to occur.
Take Time to Process
Setting boundaries with family members can seem more difficult. That’s okay. Successfully doing this will take time and practice. Things can seem more emotionally charged with your family members, so keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine to take time to process things before acting. You don’t need to set a boundary immediately. Taking time to think it over will help you choose the most strategic approach and give you the space you need to deal with your emotions before proceeding.
Remember Your Needs
Choosing a particular strategy can make boundary setting easier with family members, but it’s crucial to remember your own needs, too. You’re allowed to be assertive and to say no without any other explanation. Just because someone is related does not give them added entitlement to your resources.
Setting and sticking to boundaries with your family members can be challenging, but it is a part of maintaining your emotional health. Give these tips a try, and don’t get discouraged. The process will take time and practice.