Setting healthy boundaries within the family


Setting boundaries in a family between family members is a concept which many people can really struggle with.

KNOW WHEN TO STOP: Boundaries are important for both parents and children
Picture: PIXABAY

Are we allowed to say no or keep some of our things all for ourselves? Is that too selfish?

Sometimes, as parents, we feel as if we have to say yes to every request from our children or family members.

But boundary rules are in place to protect.

Your children look to you as their guide in how to and whether they are allowed to set boundaries for themselves too.

It is important for them to understand that they are allowed to do this. It forms an important part of having healthy adult relationships too.

If we as parents learn it is OK to have our morals and things which we find acceptable or unacceptable, then we teach our children that they can do that too.

For example, if we make a rule in the house that we are allowed to disagree with each other but are not allowed to swear at each other and must speak with respect (this applies to adults in the house too because children watch everything!), our children learn how to talk to others with respect, as well as to expect to be spoken to with respect.

Some examples of things that are not acceptable between family members are solving problems with violence, taking out your anger on others, using mom or dad’s phone without permission, breaking other children’s toys, not respecting privacy (like barging into the bathroom when someone is on the toilet).

We and our children are also allowed to decide who we allow contact with in the family.

If someone does not feel comfortable hugging a certain family member or spending time with them, for example, they need to be allowed this choice – it teaches them that they are allowed to decide who they let in their space and can serve to protect them against future abuse.

If you feel a certain family member wants to spend time with your children but you are not comfortable with that, you can say no.

How do you respond if your child wants another sweet but you know that they have had three already and one more will make them too active and possibly ending up doing something that will get them into trouble?

One way you can respond would be to say: “I can’t allow you to have another sweet now. Would you like a banana instead?”

If they are swearing at you during a tantrum, you could say: “I can’t allow you to talk to me like this. I am going to help you by taking you to your room for a little while.

“When you decide that you are ready to talk to me with respect, you can call me and I will come and talk with you.”

If we model respect for ourselves and others in our family system, we teach our children valuable life lessons.

Kate Currin is a counsellor at Masithethe Counselling Services as well as a counsellor in Private Practice (Facebook: @KateCurrinCounsellor, Contact: 061-543-3082).

Masithethe Counselling Services (formerly LifeLine East London) has been offering confidential and free counselling to residents of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality since 1985 (36 years).

Contact Masithethe on: 043-722-2000 or WhatsApp 084-091-5410. Email:


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