Boundaries as a Family Decision
One of the best ways to ensure that all of your family members understand the boundaries you’ve set and the values behind them is to make boundary setting a family activity. If you involve everyone in your household, everyone’s voice will be heard and all members of the family will be held accountable if they violate a boundary.
- Discuss your expectations, rules, and consequences regularly (at least annually). Get the input of the entire family. If your children think a boundary should be changed, allow them to state their reasons for the suggestion, and explain your reasons for accepting or denying the changes.
- Write up a list of your family’s rules, and have every member of your family (including parents) sign it. Post it where everyone can see it, such as on the refrigerator.
- Hold yourself accountable as well. If you violate a boundary your family has set, discuss it with your kids and let them know that rules and consequences also apply to adults.
- As your kids age, make sure to talk to them about how boundaries reflect a family’s values, and encourage them to set boundaries for themselves based on their own values.
- Sometimes your family’s boundaries change (especially as kids get older). When you need to adjust the rules, talk with your kids about it, and let them know that changing boundaries come with increased responsibility.
Setting boundaries isn’t easy. You want to make sure you’re being reasonable while still keeping your kids safe. You want your children to feel that their input matters, but you don’t want to just acquiesce to their requests for looser boundaries. That’s why setting boundaries as a family is important—by getting everyone’s input and having a calm, reasoned discussion, you can make good decisions about boundaries and discipline for your family.
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Strengths to Make It Through: How Families Can Grow Together Through Everyday Challenges . . . and Big Stuff, presented by Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Ph.D., Vice President, Research and Development at Search Institute
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