Boundaries are an integral part of relationship psychology, and they permeate every aspect of our lives. We learn boundaries from the time we’re children, and this is part of what makes setting boundaries within our family so tricky. Often the boundaries we learned from our family are not always healthy, but we’re so accustomed to them we don’t think to question or reset them.

If you realize the boundaries you have with your family are contributing to your stress, it’s time to set new, healthy boundaries with your family. Here’s our guide to healthier family boundaries:

  1. Prepare for the Pushback: No matter what you do in your efforts to set healthy boundaries with anyone, remember that there will almost always be some pushback. People are used to engaging with us based upon our previous boundaries so that a change can yield some confusion. With family, the pushback will be 10x harder because they’ve spent years engaging with you through the unhealthy boundaries you’re trying to change. Prepare for the inevitable pushback and don’t take the difficulty as a sign of failure, but a sign that these boundaries are even more necessary.
  2. Ask Yourself:Before you can even set new boundaries with anyone, you must know what those boundaries look like. Everyone has different limits. Some people are comfortable speaking about personal subjects with strangers. Others don’t talk about personal topics, even with family. Sit down and think about what makes you feel good and what makes you feel uncomfortable. These are your boundaries.
  3. Communicate: One of the hardest aspects of setting healthy boundaries will get others to respect those boundaries. The most important part of setting boundaries is communicating with others about your boundaries. Most people will take the setting of a barrier as a personal attack, leading them to feel upset and possibly become argumentative. Particularly if a person does not have healthy boundaries themselves, setting your own boundaries can set them off. Practice communicating your boundaries; it will help to clarify that your boundary setting has nothing to do with the person and is for your benefit because it meets your needs.

Setting boundaries can be a messy and challenging process, but most of the important things we do are. By setting healthy boundaries with family, you’re ultimately creating an environment where you will feel safer and more at peace when with family.