Follow These Tips to Set Healthy Family Boundaries:

1. Be empathetic as you learn to set boundaries.

Consider that your family might interpret new boundaries as being pushed away. Describe boundaries as a way to learn more about you and your needs. Check in with their emotions and invite them to learn about setting boundaries along with you.

  • Consider starting the boundary with a “thank you.”

  • Check in with the other person and ask what they need.

2. Make the boundary about you and your needs.

When you state a boundary, focus on you. This will help others feel comfortable and less defensive.

  • “In order to continue this discussion, I need us to …”

  • “I notice we don’t get very far when we talk about politics. Can we change the topic to something else?”

  • “I would love to join your family for dinner, but I can only stay for an hour.”

3. Explore what you need.

Healthy boundaries are set by knowing your needs. Practice journaling as a way to explore what you need from different situations.

  • Do you need to prioritize yourself?

  • What makes you feel uncomfortable?

  • What is important for you?

  • How can you make situations more enjoyable?

4. Be clear about your needs and communicate them.

If you feel resentment, it’s possible that you’re not clearly communicating your needs. If you need space or prefer one activity over another, communicate that with your family. Try not to just appease others at the expense of your own enjoyment.

5. Anticipate your triggers.

Prepare for stressful family situations and plan ahead for how you will handle them.

  • If you have an uncle who talks endlessly about politics, prepare what you will say.

  • Prepare to set the boundary more than once. When we grow up around families our entire lives, it’s easy to fall into habits with how we relate. It might take a few reminders for a family member to get used to the new boundary.

  • Reassure your family member that this boundary can strengthen your relationship and bring you closer.

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