I seem to be asking a lot of questions lately–hard questions that don’t have easy answers, like the post about whether books need romance or at the very least, realistic teen romance. Why is realistic romance important? Now, I’m on to boundaries. This is actually a topic near and dear to my heart because I AM TERRIBLE AT SETTING BOUNDARIES.
I set a boundary. Someone will break it, and I say, “That’s okay. I forgive you. Let me set another one and another and another and another.” This happens for several reasons, I’m sure, but mostly I think it’s because:
1. I think it’s important to be forgiving.
2. I can understand why the boundary was broken.
3. I don’t like confrontation.
Now the big question is: Am I like this because I am a female? Do females have trouble setting boundaries?
Let’s just do an example that we can all relate to at any age, whether we are male or female. Very few people enjoy friends or family who just “stop by” unannounced. So, let’s say you have a family member who constantly stops by unannounced because she is lonely and also battling cancer. (BTW, this is not going on in my life–really just an example) You are close enough that you have mentioned to this person that you do not like unexpected guests and that if she could even call a couple hours before, you could USUALLY accommodate her visit. She nods her head like she understands and then finishes her visit. The next time she visits, there is no phone call. Boundary broken.
So, you set a boundary. She acted like she understood, and then she came anyway. It’s hard to get angry due to the relationship with her and her current situation, but be honest–wouldn’t you feel anger? Yes! Is that okay? Yes! What do we do about this? This is where I run into the problem–what could you do? Do you think it differs for a man or for a woman? Do you let guilt get in the way of setting your boundary?
Most of my boundary problems come when I say: I’m not going to let this particular situation happen again, but then I often don’t follow through or even tell the person about the problem. It’s hard to set a boundary if I don’t speak up. In retrospect, there have been times when I’ve spoken up about issues before with multiple people, and it didn’t seem to matter–the boundaries are still broken. SO, does this mean that people who usually drive you to discuss your boundaries with them are incapable of keeping boundaries anyway? Or does this mean I’m too wishy-washy?
I think it’s especially hard for teenagers today to have boundaries because it is so easy for friends to be on 24/7 with technology. And with some social media platforms, it seems there are NO boundaries.
So what’s your take on setting boundaries? Do you struggle? If you’re good at it, what are some tips for the rest of us?
Margo Dill, also known as the Sandwich Lady because she has a 4-year-old daughter and 70-something-year-old parents, is the author of three books: Caught Between Two Curses (YA), Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg (MG), and Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies. Find out more at http://margodill.com/blog/ .