How young adults can set healthy boundaries with their parents

When you were a child or teenager, your parents set rules to protect you and help you gain independence. But now that you’re an adult, there’s been a shift. Roles look different. It takes different boundaries: boundaries set with your parents, not by them.

This is new territory for you and your parents. You learn what it means to be self-sufficient, and your parents find they are no longer in control — to whatever extent they were. Stress and tension can build up quickly. Chances are, you’ve seen traits in your parents that may not be healthy. Or maybe you just chose to do things differently than your parents did. There must be boundaries for your relationship to continue in a healthy way.

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Without healthy boundaries, tension can easily arise from things your parents might be doing, like:

— Frequent unexpected visits.

— Offering unsolicited advice about your relationships, social life, or career choices.

— Purchase items for your home, personal life and/or children without asking.

— Ignore your opinions or decisions and offer what they think is best.

This lack of boundaries can be frustrating. They may have the best of intentions, but you need to help them understand that you are an adult. If you don’t address it, it can create a rift between you and your parents. So now is the time to set boundaries. Addressing problems in the parent-child relationship leads to a higher quality of relationship.

Here are some expert tips from therapists on setting boundaries with your parents.

— Remind yourself of the why of setting boundaries. Being afraid is normal because you love your parents and don’t want to hurt them. However, remember that boundaries are essential to all types of healthy relationships. Without borders there is confusion and frustration. You are allowed to have your needs met, so practice self-compassion and remember that you are doing this because you take care of yourself. And you care about your relationship with your parents.

— If necessary, seek external advice. Approaching a difficult conversation with your parents can be scary. You may even need to seek professional help to prepare for speaking to them. A therapist can help you identify and address toxic behaviors. If you recognize that your parents’ unhealthy behavior has created bad boundaries, a therapist can help you and your parents heal deep wounds in the relationship.

— Try to stay positive. This doesn’t have to be an argument between you and your parents. It may take time for them to accept what you say and adjust their actions. However, if you stay positive, they may be more accepting of what you have to share. Help them understand that you love and respect them, but that roles in the relationship have changed.

— Have an open conversation. We all have a desire to be heard and understood. This also applies to your parents. Approach the conversation with concern about how he is doing. You may be lonely since you moved out. You may be concerned. Express your needs and desires using “I”-statements such as “I feel like you…”. No one likes being blamed or blamed.

– Be clear and concise. Before approaching a conversation about boundaries, ask yourself what is bothering you and why. When you clearly understand your concerns, you are better prepared to communicate them clearly. And when you’re ready to have the conversation, be respectful but direct about what you want.

Instead of saying, “It’s really annoying when you drop by unexpectedly. Stop it,” try saying, “I appreciate you wanting to come and see me, but I get nervous when people show up unannounced. Could you call before you come over?”

– show appreciation. Show your gratitude for the care and concern they have for your life. Express that you recognize they want the best for you. Show them that you value their presence and role in your life. They just want them to look a little different in your life.

— Know your limits. Be clear about where you draw the line. If your main concern is that your parents often drop in unannounced, then figure out what you would like. Maybe you have a busy schedule and social life and would rather just spend time with them on the weekends. If that’s what’s best for you, there’s nothing wrong with setting such limits.

— Be aware of your feelings. You must do what is healthy for you.

Setting boundaries with your parents can be scary, but you can do it. Be clear, kind, and loving. You will be grateful that you addressed this issue and your relationship will improve as a result. Effective boundaries lay the foundation for healthy, positive relationships.

Mitchell Qualls is Vice President of Operations at the family nonprofit First Things First. Email him at [email protected]

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Mitchell Qualls

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