Do you remain in a conversation with your stepchild while he/she displays disrespectful behavior? Do you continue to pick up your children’s clothes even though you’ve asked them to do it themselves? Do you allow your ex-spouse to make repeated changes to the kids’ visitation schedule without consequences? If so, it’s likely you have a boundary problem.
We teach others how to treat us through our actions, inactions, communication and silence. Healthy relationships require constant boundary setting. Without it, we invite confusion, frustration and resentment into our heart and home.
Boundaries can be paralleled to our physical home in which we allow some people in but keep others out. Much like a fence around our home, boundaries can be trampled on and torn down. They can also be moved and rebuilt. As owners of our fence, we decide how to manage our boundaries.
As stepparents, we make endless sacrifices for our stepchildren with few rewards, particularly in the beginning. It’s our responsibility to determine what limits we should put in place to foster thriving relationships.
If we allow our stepchildren to constantly trample over our requests, we set ourselves up for an embittered relationship and create self-centered adults in the process. But if we put boundaries in place to define our expectations and follow through with consequences when our limits are not respected, we open the door to a greater likelihood of healthy, loving relationships without feeling manipulated or disrespected.
I didn’t learn to set boundaries until well into my adult years. I wasted a lot of time always doing what others expected of me instead of considering my own needs. I was unhappy with my circumstances but afraid to do things differently.
Setting boundaries doesn’t mean we become selfish or unconcerned with other’s needs. It means we take care of ourselves first, giving us the capability to then take care of others.
I like the way Sue Thoele discusses boundaries in The Courage to be a Stepmom:. “With practice and commitment, taking care of ourselves and setting self-nurturing limits can become second nature. Cultivating the ability to say “no” to unreasonable responsibilities and expectations makes it easier for us to say “yes” to love and laughter.”
Do you need to put some self-nurturing boundaries in place?
Picture by farconville