In our daily dealings or relationships with people, there may be one or two instances where we feel people have overstepped their places or gone beyond lines of which we thought intuitively, they should have been aware. In other instances, they may have said more than we expect them to, tried to project their ideals on us and all of the other uncomfortable things which make us look on with internalized or visible resentment.
This may be a result of not stating clearly what we will and will not tolerate or accommodate. To avoid any type of strained relationship growing up, it is important to set uncompromising boundaries. Doing so may seem simple when it has to do with casual friends, coworkers, other family members, and the like. However, setting boundaries become complicated when it is our parents in the picture. Many parents can be a little invasive, intruding, overprotective, and controlling of their children when they’re growing up. This may be attributable to the profound care they have for their child and their earnest desire for their child to have a meaningful life and grow into a productive, successful, and independent person. However, when their child becomes an adult, the parent may have a hard time loosening their influence or backing off and allowing them to live their own life. This can lead to tension within the family and resentment towards 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.
Setting healthy boundaries with parents though difficult, is a step in the right direction as adults. This step is especially crucial when our parent’s perception of us may differ significantly from how we have evolved and assimilated ideals or how our experiences have shaped us. Developing new relationships with these boundaries keeps us from becoming angry or resentful towards our parents as we transition into our overwhelming adult lives.
It is appropriate to set boundaries with parents because it permits you to have your own, respected area, it allows you to create and uphold your own ideals and beliefs, it allows for privacy in your relationships or marriage, it reduces the tension and anxiety that comes with having to accommodate people unplanned and overall, it teaches the individual how to be responsible, independent, and deal with problems on their own.
Establishing healthy boundaries with parents is important because it prevents you from housing resentment towards your parents and creates healthy, joyful relations while also affording you the chance to establish an identity separate from your relationship with your parents. Without clear limits, parents may assume and feel that imposing their views and ways of life on their adult child is acceptable.
Instances of inappropriate or poor boundaries with parents include having them pay unexpected and regular visits, unsolicited feedback about your partner or your relationships, unsolicited advice on how you raise your children, comparing others’ success with you, passing derogatory comments regarding your diet or body on a regular basis and interfering in your private life. All these have the potential to create an unhealthy relationship between one and their parent.
To avoid any awkward relationship with one’s parents, examples of common and appropriate boundaries to set with parents as an adult include; Instead of dropping in at any moment, ask them to phone you first, politely prohibiting unsolicited relationship or marital advice from them, have them respect your life choices, ideals or views and not criticize them simply because they disagree with them, make them understand that if you are unable to speak when they call, it is possible that you have other matters to attend to, If you share a home, it is only right to ask them to give you a physical area to be yourself without invading your privacy and more importantly, asking them not to disclose personal information about you to their friends. While these are or may come across as challenging talks to have, they are crucial for developing a healthy relationship with them, with yourself, and will form the standard for more meaningful future relations with people who in ways may influence or share a part in your life.
How do you go about setting these uneasy but necessary boundaries then? It starts with knowing your limits. It is the first step towards establishing boundaries with your parents. if you know what boundaries you will require and you are well aware that your parents may breach them, it is only right to be proactive rather than reactive. Understanding what you can tolerate might help your parents adjust and inspire them to rethink their own. After defining your limits, go ahead and be clear and concise with your limits. Being clear and concise involves being politely direct and communicating exactly what you require from them unapologetically. Be sure that your request is specific, logical, and measurable. In your bid to mount boundaries with your parents, Demonstrate assertiveness and empathetic compassion. This demands that you tell your parents exactly how you feel about them overstepping their place in your life and how you would rather wish they act while simultaneously relaying how you understand their point of view and the uneasiness that comes with letting you loose in your quest to grow. When establishing boundaries with your parents, express gratitude or appreciation. it may be helpful to express gratitude for what they think is good for you, as well as the intent behind their behaviour. For example, if your parent is always interfering in your relationship, you can say that you appreciate their concern for you or sincerely acknowledge that they want what’s best for you, but you would wish they stop trying to become involved in your romances because you’re capable of making your own decisions. Appreciating your parents shows them that you still respect their presence in your life. You just want them to afford you that chance to have things your way and differently. Lastly, release any guilt over creating boundaries with your parents. After setting the uncomfortable but necessary boundaries, feelings of fear, doubt, remorse, and the like will start to streak in. These are normal human emotions which do not necessarily mean your assertions were wrong. They do not in any way invalidate your desire to have boundaries with your parents and the only way to let go of this guilt is by being compassionate towards yourself. This comes with knowing that you are human and you deserve to express yourself, you deserve to have a say in what is good for you and you are worthy of having your needs met.
Having boundaries is important in every relationship. It is however a complex thing to do in the African setting. You would most certainly agree with me that uttering a simple, “please do not enter my room without knocking” to your African parent can have you sleep outside, your teeth displaced or your jaw dislocated but setting boundaries with parents and everyone else, in general, is essential in cultivating and preserving relationships and building a meaningful sense of self. Until we start to have those otherwise difficult conversations with our God-entrusted creators, there can be no change and we will only continue to wallow in discomfort as they decide every step we take. So, get out and set your boundaries, the worse thing that can happen is you would get back to your room with a swollen eye or a palm print on your right cheek but you have communicated your boundaries anyway.