The parent-child relationship is a strong, unique, and influential connection. It nurtures the physical, emotional, and social growth of the child. But sometimes parents struggle with the balance between being a parent and allowing their adult children to have their own lives. And things start to get complicated.
They may be overprotective, which usually comes from a place of love, or toxic, manipulative, or even abusive, and you just need to take a stand. A lack of healthy limits may create stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, hindering relationships with your parents. Creating appropriate boundaries is crucial for your mental and emotional health.
Why are healthy boundaries with your parents as an adult important?
It is important for numerous reasons. It protects you from raising resentment toward them. It advances healthy, enjoyable interconnections, and what is most important is that it helps you establish your identity outside of your relationship with them.
Without limits, most parents may believe that it is correct to impose their beliefs and lifestyles on their adult children.
Healthy boundaries are necessary for developing a healthy relationship with your parents. They are one of the most important things you can do for your well-being. They will lead to a decrease in anxiety and improve your ability to manage conflicts and solve daily problems.
Setting boundaries with parents as adults is not just crucial for your mental health, it is also important for your relationships with your partner, coworkers, and friends. It affects almost every part of your life. It can help you outgrow the family system you were born into and create conscious, purposeful boundary standards for yourself and your own family.
Lack of healthy boundaries leads to emotional imbalance and the buildup of resentment. You should always rework resentment, as it’s vital for a healthy relationship. Open communication is the best way to deal with it.
Healthy limits are needed to maintain your autonomy and dignity in relationships. They also create emotional welfare, which allows you to feel happy and relaxed. Boundaries help you feel confident, improve your self-esteem, and let you know your worth.
Personally, establishing boundaries with parents, expressing them, and honoring each other’s limits is the key to happiness.
Examples of boundaries with parents
There is always a difference of opinion, beliefs, and priorities between you and your parents. And that is OK. Problems start when they do not recognize and accept you for who you are as an adult. Parents should respect your personality and your limits, otherwise, you will have a toxic relationship that can include hostility and aggression. Establish your boundaries clearly and respectfully, and stick to them.
Let’s look at common boundaries we all should set with our parents:
- Respecting your life choices and decisions
- Not giving unsolicited relationship or marriage advice
- Knowing your priorities
- No commentary about your body
- Putting limits on conversation about your money
- No pressuring about your career
- No gossiping about your partner, friends, or other family members.
- Giving you a physical space, especially if you live together.
- Having them call you before visiting
Some parents may be willing to listen and respect boundaries. In that case, boundaries are simple guidelines. Other times, they may need to have hard, inflexible boundaries. In both situations, it’s important to persist. Never negotiate!
7 Tips for Establishing Boundaries with Parents
Setting boundaries with parents can be challenging and very difficult, especially if you have a controlling and overprotective mother and father. Here are 7 steps to establish healthy boundaries:
1. Know your limits.
Before you set boundaries, it is good to acknowledge your limits. It`s always better to be proactive than reactive. You must know what boundaries you will need to protect your well-being.
2. Let go of guilt over having limits.
You have the right to be an independent, healthy, happy person who has her own needs and priorities. Having guilt about knowing what is best for you isn`t helpful or good at all.
3. Frame limits as a sign of cherishing.
Let your parents know how much you appreciate their handling of boundaries. They will definitely give you more space and less room to cross your boundaries.
4. Be direct.
It is not easy, but being direct about your feelings can go a long way. Your parents cannot read your mind. Always be honest and clear. Healthy communication is necessary for establishing healthy limits.
5. Recognize when you need more space.
Communicating when you need space or alone time is essential for establishing your boundaries. Don`t feel guilty about that. Just let them know how to get in touch with you if something important happens.
6. Have self-compassion and avoid conflicts.
When dealing with toxic situations, it is crucial to have self-love and give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. Try to avoid conflict and always protect your ability to rebuild your relationship with your parents. Protect your peace.
7. Stick to your boundaries.
Make sure your parents know there will be consequences if they violate your limits. Setting clear and firm limitations is important. Sticking to them is vital.
Setting boundaries with parents after marriage
Setting boundaries with your parents after you get married can be challenging. Your parents will be more interested in your new life than ever. Especially if they are going through rocky times in their relationship. You must call out their predictions and calculations.
First, set new expectations for family time. Before your marriage, your parents may have dropped out at any time, but it definitely won’t be healthy if you spend too much time as a couple with them.
You must address unhelpful comments. They may witness one of you being stressed, but they must know this is not a representation of your whole relationship. If they always give you advice you didn’t ask for, it may be harmful and irritating.
You should shut down unsolicited advice in general. There may be familial or cultural differences between you and your partner, and that’s okay; there is no judgment. Make sure your parents accept individual and non-identical opinions, beliefs, or habits.
Prioritize the needs of the marriage above what your parents may expect.
Setting boundaries with parents after having children
Establishing limits after you have children can be demanding, as your parents are now grandparents. They may want to share their parenting ideas with you and apply them to your children.
The fact is, they have experience, but you must figure out the needs of your children and set clear boundaries.
Openly explain to them how they should follow your parenting style. It’s important they understand your children are cared for in the family dynamic in a way you see as well and appropriate.
One of the most remarkable topics around your boundaries is abusive language and negative talk about others, especially about one’s appearance. You should talk about that in private, away from your children.
Some grandparents may challenge your parenting or engage in your decisions. You should address their challenge to your authority. Set that boundary immediately. They should respect your parenting style as long as they protect your children’s safety and health.
Examples of parents not respecting boundaries
Most parents will try to parent you even though you are an adult capable of making your own decisions. They will offer advice and guidance about your habits, choices, and lifestyle, even if you don’t ask for it. Parental over-involvement usually comes from a place of love, but it can still be very annoying. Plenty of parents stick to the belief that they know what is best for their adult kids.
When parents repeatedly ignore your limits or challenge them, it can suggest an unhealthy relationship. There are some instances of poor boundaries:
- Unsolicited comments about your partner and your parenting
- Having unexpected visits from them
- Buying presents for you or your home without asking you
- Comments about your body, habits, and lifestyle
- Interfering in your personal or career life
This is maybe the worst thing that happens in your relationship with your parents. If they constantly dispute or deny your experiences, feelings, or actions, you should walk away or ignore the gaslighting as much as possible.
Tips for when parents are overstepping boundaries
Some parents may seem controlling, undercutting, manipulative, dominating, or critical. They can make you feel unskillful, unconfident, or small. They may even not know they overstep and cross the boundaries.
Announce your limits clearly and openly, and communicate them often.
Before you establish your boundaries, first build your own sense of worth. Once you do that, start drawing border lines.
You can also build a support network. If you have friends, relatives, or a therapist outside your family to be on your side, you will feel better and more confident. It’s important to have people who support you.
Journaling is a significant way to understand your feelings. You should keep a record of what happened. You will avoid manipulation and misunderstanding. And what is most important is that you will have specific examples of why your boundaries are needed.
If your parents continue to violate your boundaries, cutting them out can be an appropriate way to protect your mental and emotional health.
Pro tip: Examples of boundaries with in-laws and how to set them
Having a healthy relationship with your in-laws is important for your partner and your marriage. Setting boundaries with them may be more challenging than setting them with your own parents. Your in-laws are people who have different beliefs, habits, and opinions from those you have. Establishing limits will lead to respectful, sane, and healthy relationships.
Here are some examples of boundaries with in-laws:
- Respecting each other’s beliefs, opinions, needs, and habits
- Communicating emotional needs and wants
- Saying no when needed
- Protecting your own lifestyle, decisions, and choices
- Never compromise your mental health while interacting with other people.
- Offering a flexible approach in your personal life
By establishing borders, you can limit how they interfere with your life and maintain a healthy distance. You should ask your partner to talk to their family members about your feelings. It can help them understand the matter in question.
Setting boundaries with parents can be difficult and full of obstacles, especially if you have an older mother and father. But do not forget that it’s crucial for your mental health and well-being. It does not mean you will abandon or betray them. Try to explain that you just honor your limitations. You should be patient and always talk or act in a respectful manner. Always be assertive and compassionate, and respect their boundaries. This will help you maintain good harmony and set boundaries properly.
Keep in mind that boundaries with parents as adults are healthy for everyone involved.