Everyone has a unique relationship with their parents. Some people are best friends with their parents, others have panic attacks every time they see their mother’s phone number pop up on their phone. Even in the best familial relationships, though, there are times that you need to set some boundaries with your parents so you can, ya know, live your life.
That said, setting boundaries with your parents is not easy.
It’s so hard! It’s pretty much human nature to want to have a healthy relationship with the people who raised you, but sometimes they can be hard to manage. But if you find yourself getting nervous to talk to or see your parents, or find that they’re meddling too much, or just straight-up being just awful, it might be time to cut some ties. Think about it: If your friends were acting in a certain way, you would have a talk and set them straight, right? You have to do it with your family, too, even if it hurts a little.
Learning how to ask for what you need or tell other people what’s not working for you is an act of self-care, and all of your relationships will benefit from knowing how to set boundaries that work for you.
Here are some simple ways to approach your family when it’s getting to be too much.
1Set a time for communication.
A lot of times the problems with your parents can be solved if you settle on a certain time to communicate. Instead of being bombarded by calls every day or Facebook notifications from your mom, tell your parents when you can deal. Maybe you and your parents shouldn’t be friends on social media. Maybe you set up a weekly call with them. Think about what will work for you.
2Tell them what’s not allowed.
By now, you know what sparks fights and terrible feelings. Make it stop. Tell your mom she’s not allowed to ask you when you’re getting married anymore. Tell your dad to stop bringing up *that time* you decided to not go home for Thanksgiving. Whatever it is, feel free to tell them, “We’re not talking about THAT anymore.” If they don’t listen or respect the boundary, that’s on them.
3Stick to it!
Really, it’s on them. If you asked them to do something and they don’t respect it, you do not cave. If they call during an off-limits time, you don’t answer. If they bring up that banned conversation topic, you get up and leave the room. It’s not going to be easy the first few times, but it will get better.
4Have a plan.
Since it is going to be hard, you want to have a solid action plan so you don’t get all mixed up. You might want to write down a few prepared responses so you can just repeat them. If you’re going home to visit and things do blow up, have an idea of what you’ll do to diffuse the situation. It’s not going to make things easier, but at least you’ll have it mapped out.
5Give a little back.
If you’re asking for things, it’s likely that your parents might open up, too. If they have legitimate concerns, hear them out. If they ask you to do something that you can handle, go for it. Giving something back is only fair, right?
6Give them the benefit of the doubt.
In most situations, it’s not necessary to just cut your parents out. Give your parents the benefit of the doubt, and talk to them about what’s going on. It’s highly possible that they’ll actually listen to you and change! And then everyone’s happy, right? People, even your parents, may surprise you.
When you approach your parents about this new world order, try to stay positive. You’re allowed to tell them what makes you upset or hurts you, but putting a positive spin on it might help them get the message. If you really do love them, tell them that, and that you know they love you too. Telling your parents that you need some space, or that you need to cut things off, is not easy. But it’s totally necessary sometimes.