Balancing Boundaries and Respect

Coming from a christian family personal boundaries are often crossed. “Honoring” your parents was just another way of saying be obedient and never disagree. Which just doesn’t work for independent thoughtful people. So I learned how to both disagree and be respectful. How to say no without picking fights. How to be honest and kind. I feel that it’s important to be gentle with others while still being true to yourself. But it can be a thin line.

First and hardest rule is if you say “no” you have to mean it. If there is a line that you don’t want others to cross you have to stay firm in your choice. Which is why I tell parents to be careful when they say no because there’s no turning back once you draw the line. Because if you do go back and let them cross that line then “no” has no meaning and it won’t be respected after that. This is with adults too. So be careful when you state an absolute because it determines respect.

Now not everything has to be an absolute. Some boundaries are just ‘not right now” boundaries. Which can be just as assertive and powerful. You don’t know if you want to go on a date with that person but your not sure. Just tell them you want to get to know them better, It’s not “no” it’s just “not right now”. Your child wants to watch TV but they haven’t finished their homework. So you tell them they can watch TV afterward. It’s not “no” it’s just “not right now”. Your parents want you to go shopping with them but you already had plans to catch up on shows. So you ask if they want to go later.

Parent and children relationships are a little harder especially the older the children get. Sometimes things can get out of hand. Parents sometimes have this expectation that children are suppose to do what their told immediately. And children have this expectation that once they turn a certain age the rules magically disappear and so do the responsibilities. Neither of which are true or helpful thoughts. If you want people to respect you the rule of thumb is you need to respect others and yourself. Stand firm in your beliefs and passions but also allow other people to do the same. If your children are arguing with you it’s probably not because there jerks that just want to rebel. Everyone has their own thought and opinions that are bursting inside wanting to get out. You can’t force others or yourself to pretend to feel right about something they disagree with.

So if you have a bad feeling about something. If there’s something you don’t want to do. Say so. But think about how you’re saying it. Picking fight just to be right doesn’t help anyone. Most people will respects the lines you’ve asked them not to cross. If you don’t drink and your friends do there’s nothing wrong with asking them to share an activity with you that doesn’t involve drinking. But if you don’t ask then you can’t expect others to know what your boundaries are. They can’t respect your boundaries if you don’t lay any down.

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