Ok, truth be told we were discussing her mother-in-law not having any.
Lots of stories were told. I nodded, I sympathized.
Many of us have sent-from-heaven mother-in-laws and can truly consider ourselves lucky and blessed. You know who you are, happy in-law people!
I can't relate to in-law issues specifically, but that doesn't mean I haven't struggled with a family member, or a friend who had trouble crossing every line I ever drew.
Oh, I have. For years.
In fact, I dyed my hair, changed my major, changed my nail polish, I got married, had a baby, moved out of town, had another baby, cooked a new recipe and every time I made a significant or insignificant decision or had an opinion on how things should be, someone I loved decided they knew better.
It also doesn't mean I don't struggle right now.
We all have that person, a family member, friend, even co-worker who thinks they know better and you didn't reeeeeally mean it when you said you'd prefer if she/he didn't do xyz.
The problem is not what others think of your choices. It's when they decide to act, based on what they feel your choices SHOULD be.
I have always struggled with this. Simply because I don't want to hurt their feelings even at the expense of hurting my own.
Have you felt that way?
Boundaries 101. Did I miss that class?
I must have.
So I don't have a long list and I won't pretend to have the answers and dole out advice. We're being real and this is coming to you honest.
I've got 3 main things to say.
Here's what's been key and most effective for me (again, if you took the class, please chime in).
1. Boundaries are reciprocal.
I found that it was important to stress to that boundary-challenged person the ways in which I am respectful of so many different aspects of their life, their choices, their likes and dislikes.
Even though, those may not necessarily be what I would choose for them, there are boundaries I respect.
Now if that doesn't work... Next, I just go with "Look, if you feel you can 'accidently' look through my email and my online bills and my personal journals again next time I leave you alone in my house, I will have to go buy you all new lipsticks that are what I feel a more appropriate color for someone your age and toss all of your old ones out."
See? That's what I mean by "reciprocal"!
[no, no, that was supposed to be the if-all-else-fails funny part]
2. Ultimately, boundaries are for you.
You can't control or monitor how others feel or think. [Did I just type that?]
But when they're about to act and ignore the limits of what you feel comfortable with, clashing with their ideas is the least of your concerns!
It may be difficult at first, and even every time after that.
Disagreements keep me up at night, I get it. But this is crucial, especially for the people-pleasers.
It is also very possible to have nurturing, lasting and loving relationships even after boundaries have been crossed.
Giving others grace and moving past the "bad episodes" is the best way to assert yourself and stand with confidence.
3. As moms, I also feel this is important for our children to see and model.
This has been the tricky (ok, really really hard) part for me:
Putting others first and being kind does not equate to allowing others to impose or abuse us. It does not equate to having no boundaries.
In the same way we teach our kids to say encouraging and loving words, we also teach them to say "I don't like it when you do that."
It is part of building self-awareness and self-esteem and practice for a later time in their lives when they may have to stand their ground in the face of resistance!
What do you think? What do you find helpful in setting boundaries with that certain person in your life?
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