How To Gracefully Set Boundaries With Intrusive Family Members

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash.com

 

Most of us moms have experienced the frustration – and even anger of another adult telling you how to parent your own child.

From frowning upon your decision to serve them certain food, to insisting that you are doing things “wrong” – many weary moms often end up feeling deflated after being criticized as a mom.

And while it can be somewhat easier to shrug off the unsolicited advice from a stranger – it can be much more difficult when the words come from a family member – which is why setting boundaries is so important – and here are a few tips to get you started.

Set The Boundary

Maybe your mother-in-law is horrified you let your child play outside without shoes…

… or your “educated” sister insists your 3-year-old should wear a mask – or else insists you’re a bad parent.

Whatever the issue is – when someone tries to tell you how to parent your own child – it’s completely appropriate to set a boundary.

You don’t have to be mean or rude – but you should be clear – and direct.

Saying something like “Actually we’ve made the decision not to force our children to wear a mask, thank you for your input but this is what we’ve deemed best for our family.”

A healthy adult would get it – and stop pestering you…

… but most of us have interactions with non-healthy adults all the time.

So then what?

Reaffirm the Boundary – Or Cut Off Contact

If the person keeps overstepping their boundaries – you can reaffirm your boundary – and even use stronger language such as “please don’t bring this up again”, or “I have nothing more to say about this topic, I’d like you to not push this issue.”

But even with direct communication, some people simply just don’t care, and still think they know best – or they simply may not even respect your choices.

This can be hard to digest – especially when it’s a family member – but it can be true.

If someone continues to violate your boundaries – whether it’s feeding your child items you don’t allow your children to have- cursing around them – giving unsolicited advice – or whatever the case is – you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.

Perhaps it could be limiting the amount of time around this family member.

Or it could be more drastic as “taking a break” from the relationship until your boundaries are respected.

You teach people how to treat you.

If you let someone walk all over you – they will.

And your children depend on you to protect them – so you mustn’t cave on your parenting values no matter how aggressive or manipulative the other person is.

Remember Your Role

Finally, remember what’s true.

YOU are your child’s mother – and it is YOU and (of course your husband) who decide how to raise your child.

Do not let another adult take away your power, or let someone make you feel bad for having an unconventional way of parenting.

Be confident in your decisions – and set boundaries for those who try and overstep their role.

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