Healthy boundaries are essential to living together harmoniously as a family. Good boundaries are like fences defining the edges of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Being sensitive to everyone’s boundaries is essential for smooth sailing.
How do you know when you’ve crossed a boundary? If you are paying attention to the other person’s reaction, they’ll often let you know. For example, children being tickled may be laughing but then it becomes too much for them and they say “stop”. They’ve gone from feeling comfortable to uncomfortable. When you stop tickling, you honor their boundary.
Noticing Personal Boundaries
Before you can honor someone’s boundaries, you must notice them. Megan realized her son Alex was sensitive to various scents when he started complaining about smells. The smell of the laundry detergent bothered Alex so they switched to unscented laundry detergent and dryer sheets. Megan stopped wearing perfume or using hair spray - all way too smelly! She also changed to using unscented candles.
While the rest of the family was fine with these scents, Alex’s boundary for acceptable smells was much narrower. All these little adjustments helped Alex stay in his comfortable zone.
Different people have different boundaries and tolerances for stretching those boundaries. One mom realized their family’s schedule felt too crazy when the kids had more than one extracurricular activity at a time. They decided to limit their kids to one activity at a time.
In the spring their son wanted to join both baseball and the school play which overlapped by a couple weeks. They carefully considered the impact this would have and decided that although it crossed the boundary it would be doable. Other families may have decided it would have stretched them too thin.
Recognizing a Boundary Breach
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