Tis’ the Season to Set Boundaries with Family During the Holidays

Tis’ the Season to Set Boundaries with Family During the Holidays

Dr. Henry Cloud is my favourite voice on Boundaries and Relationships. So, I wanted to share his piece of advice on Boundaries and Family During the Holidays. Hope you enjoy his wisdom below:

“When you were born, you were placed into a family for a season of time to help you grow into a mature adult. At some point this season ends, and your relationship with your parents changes from child-to-parent to adult-to-adult. The roles change from dependency and authority to mutuality. While you are to respect and care for your mother and father, you are no longer under their protection and tutelage. Children are to obey parents, while adult children are to love and honor them. Therefore, situations will occur where you need to make decisions and set boundaries with family with which they may not agree.

For example, you might decide to spend some traditional holiday time apart from your family. This can often be a cause for a confrontational talk:

You: “Mom, I wanted to let you know as soon as I could that I’ve made plans to go to the mountains with some friends this Christmas. I know this will be the first Christmas I won’t be with you and Dad, so I wanted to talk to you about it.”

Mom: “What are you talking about? You always spend Christmas with us. Your father will be so hurt.”

You: “I’m so sorry you feel that way. I would never want to hurt you. But this year I have a really good group of friends that I want to spend the holidays with. It’s not about not caring about you; it’s about wanting to be involved with these people at a deeper level. I’m looking forward to being with you on your birthday soon.”

Mom: “Can’t you do that at another time? I mean, it will ruin our Christmas.”

You: “I hope it doesn’t ruin things for you. That’s why I’m telling you this several months in advance, so you can make sure you have time to make any other arrangements you need to so your holiday will be good.”

Mom: “Don’t you care about how we feel?”

You: “Yes, Mom, I care very much. And I do like spending time with you. If you think that I don’t care, then maybe we can talk at some other point about your feelings, because I would like to reassure you that I care. But the point of this phone call was simply to give you a heads up so that we can plan and adjust for this change.”

If you had that conversation with your mom, how would it go?”

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