It is so healthy to set boundaries, whether at home, work, in our romantic relationship, as parents, or simply for yourself. It sounds like something obvious and simple, but in reality it is not an easy task to implement. We should set boundaries for ourselves for our own expectations or goals day to day. Sometimes this begins with rehearsing our boundaries to ourselves in the morning: I will only eat one cupcake at the office party. I will assert myself with that colleague. Or sometimes it is helpful to set the boundary at night: I will go to the gym tomorrow morning. I will not watch TV past 9:30.
We should set boundaries in our relationships as it relates to respect, communication, expectations, or boundaries of intimacy. In marriage, these boundaries should be made together, especially as it relates to extended family/in laws, friends, and/or children. This will prevent conflicts related to misunderstandings in the future, as well as promote attunement with your partner – I would like to leave the party no later than 11. Can we make it a tradition to have Christmas mornings to just our immediate family? When we are having a disagreement, let’s agree to listen to the other and not be defensive or raise our voices.
As parents, it is important to instill the concept of boundaries in children by beginning this process in their early childhood. Children crave limits, and need to know that parents are in control, so that the child doesn’t have to be. Setting limits for children should be concrete and clear, rather than something vague such as, “be good.” Let them know what the expectations are ahead of time, as well as know what the consequence will be before the behavior occurs – If you choose not to put the iPad away, then you will not be able to use it this weekend. Eventually these boundaries will become known/natural, with few reminders necessary.
When we are consistent in our boundaries they become habits and standards that we don’t even think twice about after a while. This generally leads to healthier relationships with others and yourself. Setting boundaries and maintaining them feels good, because we are respecting ourselves and it can help us achieve small goals that assist with healthier living and removes obstacles toward larger goals.