Most people generally struggle with setting healthy boundaries in their old or current relationships, whether with friends, colleagues, partners or relatives. We let things go, sweep recurring conflicts under the rug, and more. However, we find it the most difficult when setting boundaries with our parents or close family members because people in Indian society are expected to trust their parents or elders and respect their decisions. But sometimes, these decisions may negatively affect our lives or make us uncomfortable. This is why drawing healthy boundaries become necessary. Because healthy boundaries teach people how they can or cannot treat you and fosters mutual respect. However, they should not control or change others. Besides, in any relationship, communicating your needs by overcoming uncomfortable feelings is a healthy sign.
So, to help you find out how to establish healthy boundaries with your parents or close family members, we decided to reach out to an expert. A clinical psychologist from Delhi, Dr Parul Adlakha, told Hindustan Times six ways one can healthily practice the same. (Also Read: Green flags to look for in romantic relationship, according to psychologist)
Elaborating on healthy boundaries, Dr Parul said, “Healthy boundaries in any relationship are necessary. They encourage mutual respect, foster a better understanding and improve communication.” She added, “Though it can seem incredibly difficult to establish healthy boundaries with your parents, they can help you maintain a healthy and a positive relationship. Additionally, it is in no way disrespectful to do the same. When you are setting the boundaries politely, you’re helping both sides grow.”
Dr Parul further elaborated, “Sometimes it may be the case that your parents are unaware of the issues, so it is a good idea to have a discussion and open conversation stating the issue politely and discussing the same non judgementally.” Read on to know her suggestions.
Notice Unhealthy Boundaries
According to Dr Parul, it is necessary to “identify the areas where your relationship with parents or family needs work and be specific in defining how each boundary-defying interaction makes you feel.” She added that it should be done without judgment.
Focus On One Healthy Boundary At A Time
Dr Parul said, “Do not overwhelm yourself or the family members by picking up several issues at the same time. Focus on one healthy and easy boundary at first. For instance, address issues like being guilt tripped into not attending or rescheduling a family dinner.”
Give Each Other Time to Accept the Boundaries
“Don’t be surprised or upset if your boundary changes are met with resistance at first. Setting boundaries take time. Do not engage in disputes and take time outs,” Dr Parul said. Often changes in our lives are hard to accept, and the same may be true when you are setting out to establish boundaries with your parents or family. It is always okay to give yourself and the other person time.
Discuss What Is Off Limit
It is necessary to be specific while establishing healthy boundaries with your parents, family members or anyone else. Always confirm whether your parents understand what you are trying to communicate. This helps in avoiding misunderstandings in the future. “Be precise and specific to avoid misunderstandings. Be assertive in discussing topics that are off-limits, like not discussing about your weight or your job etc,” Dr Parul said.
Use ‘I’ Statements
Explaining the same, Dr Parul said, “State your needs simple and clearly. Use ‘I’ statements for your conversations. For example, ‘I feel disrespected when this happens’. Keep a non blaming, non defensive approach.”
Be Open to Bargaining
Dr Parul elaborated, “In setting a particular boundary, to avoid resistance and conflict, use a redirecting approach. Offer a realistic alternative that you ‘can do’. Have a pre-determined list of these possible alternatives you are comfortable with.”