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How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Parents in Adulthood

Many parents can be a little overprotective and controlling of their children when they’re growing up. This is a simple result of the deep care they have for their child and their desire for their child to grow into a productive, successful and independent person. However, when their child becomes an adult, the parent may have a hard time backing off and allowing them to live their own life. This can lead to tension within the family and resentment toward the parent. This is why it is so important for adults to set healthy boundaries with their parents and make it clear what they are and are not comfortable with.

Why Setting Boundaries With Parents is Appropriate

  • It allows the individual to have their own space that is respected
  • It will enable the individual to form and uphold their own beliefs and morals
  • It allows for privacy within the individual’s relationships or marriage
  • It can bring down stress and anxiety levels
  • It can improve the individual’s self-esteem 
  • It can allow the individual to learn how to be responsible, independent, and manage conflict on their own

Signs that Boundaries Need to Be Put in Place

Some people might not realize that there is something wrong with how they are going about their relationship with their parents as an adult and that they need to put some boundaries in place. Some examples of poor boundaries between a parent and their adult child include:

  • Parents stopping by their children’s house frequently without calling ahead of being invited
  • Parents sharing their opinion about their child’s partner without being asked for it
  • Parents interfering with their child’s personal life or occupation
  • Parents tearing down their children by commenting negatively on their weight, appearance, or social status
  • Parents using emotional blackmail to get their children to behave as they want
  • Parents comparing their child to the success of others
  • Parents attempting to control their child’s decisions
  • Parents calling or texting too often

Putting Boundaries into Place

#1. Plan out what you’re going to say. Before confronting your parents, it’s crucial to think about what problems exist within your relationship with them and what boundaries you can put into place to remedy the problem in a productive way. For example, if you have a parent who is constantly texting and calling you throughout the day, consider setting a time window when they should not expect a response from you. This time frame could include when you are at work or after a certain hour at night when you are resting or spending time with your partner. This will allow you to have a greater sense of privacy without feeling guilty for not responding right away.

#2. Be as clear and concise as possible about how you feel and what changes you want to see made. Instead of simply saying, “I wish you wouldn’t stop by my home unannounced,” consider saying, “I feel uncomfortable when you stop by my house unannounced. From now on, please call ahead or wait for an invitation.”

#3. Try to be compassionate but firm. You can explain to your parents that just because you’re putting these boundaries in place doesn’t mean that you care for them any less; you simply need these boundaries to have a more functional relationship moving forward. You can also emphasize that you understand where they are coming from and why they may be acting the way they are.

#4. Make it clear that you are serious about these boundaries being upheld and expect them to be respected. You may have to repeat yourself more than once to make sure the message is clear.

#5. Don’t back down. If your parent crosses one of the boundaries that you put into place, reiterate to them why it is so important to you that these boundaries are upheld. If you don’t acknowledge that a boundary has been broken, your parent won’t see the seriousness of what they did, and it will likely happen again.

#6. Express your appreciation when boundaries are respected. Make it clear to your parents that you are grateful that they value you enough to respect the limits you have put into place.

#7. Don’t feel guilty about putting boundaries in place. While it can feel a little awkward and scary at first, you’ll be grateful for setting them in the future. They can help protect your relationship with your parents by preventing arguments and tension. In fact, these boundaries may even cause you to develop a closer overall relationship with your parents.

Some parents have trouble accepting the fact that their child has become an adult. They may want to continue to try to control them and interfere in their lives. This can lead to tension and strained relationships. Some examples of situations in which poor boundaries exist between an adult child and their parent include parents stopping by unannounced, excessive calling or texting, emotional manipulation, or unwanted and unsolicited advice. When setting boundaries, be clear and concise about what changes you want to be made and why. Try to be firm but compassionate and emphasize that these boundaries exist in order to preserve the relationship and prevent arguments. Please don’t feel guilty for putting these boundaries into place, as they are part of maintaining a healthy relationship. Setting important boundaries in relationships can be stressful. If you’re struggling, our team at Achieve Concierge can help. Call (858) 221-0344 today to learn more