How to Create Healthy Boundaries with Family

  • May 06, 2021
  • 6 min Reads
How to Create Healthy Boundaries with Family

Family members have mutual respect and support for each other in tough times. However, it might not be the same for everyone. Sometimes you may notice family members are using their actions or words to hurt one another or becoming enraged with one another. This will result in continuous arguments and lasting resentment.

The family system can be complicated and there will be arguments between the family members. However, there has to be a general sense of love and compassion amongst the family members.

This will prevent an argument or conflict from getting out of hand and family members can resolve any conflict productively and maturely. Therefore, it is essential to set boundaries for each member of a family in order to reduce the emotional intensity.

However, this is easier said than done, as standing up to your parents or other family members may be difficult. You will get better at it over time once you start practising it. This will likely improve your relationship with the family members and here are some ways to set boundaries.

Tips on How To Set Boundaries With Family

  1. Value Yourself
  2. Find a Neutral Ground
  3. Learn to Say NO
  4. Do What is Best for You
  5. Mention Consequences for Violating Boundaries
  6. Know What Triggers You
  7. Don’t Take Other People’s Reactions Personally
  8. Make a List of Coping Strategies

1. Value Yourself

It is prudent to spend time with the people who adore you and value you. However, this may not be possible at all times. You have to believe that you are important and deserve to be treated well if you want to be valued by others.

You have to choose the people you want to spend time with. Nobody will value your time if you fail to spend it with the right people or do the right activities.

Hence, it is essential to spend time with the people who appreciate and motivate you instead of humiliating you or paying no value to your words. It is very important to respect yourself.

2. Find a Neutral Ground

Anger is the natural reaction when someone belittles you or fails to appreciate you. You may want to lash out or may stop talking or may limit your interaction with the person who behaves in this manner.

However, it is unhealthy for your mental well-being to hold onto a grudge or to be angry with someone for a long period of time. On the other hand, being nice to a person who does not value your emotions is equally unhealthy for mental well-being.

It is essential to find neutral ground in this scenario before taking any type of action based on what makes you feel good instead of thinking about how it makes others feel.

3. Learn to Say NO

If you want others to consider your feelings, wishes or demands, then you have to learn to say ‘NO’ to others when something seems inappropriate, wrong or derogatory. 

If you believe that saying ‘NO’ to others is impolite, then you may mention the reason behind this action.

For example, you may say “No! This is inappropriate”, “No! I am leaving” or “No! I will not do this” etc. 

4. Do What is Best for You

You cannot keep others happy when you are unhappy. Thus, it is important to do what is best for you without feeling guilty. For example, you may not like to travel with your family due to a lack of trust or amiability.

In this scenario, it is prudent to travel alone or with people whose company is enjoyable. You have to remember that you are the biggest supporter and advocate of yourself.

Thus, it is important to spend limited time with the people who are toxic to your mental well-being and to set boundaries for the family members during holidays (if it is necessary) without worrying about how others may react.

5. Mention Consequences for Violating Boundaries

Alongside setting boundaries, it is important to inform others about the consequences of violating the boundaries, such as hanging up the phone or leaving a room.

If your family members keep violating the boundaries despite the consequences, then you have to stop all communication for a particular period of time.

This is likely to send a message to your family members and will make them understand that respecting your boundaries is vital in order to stay in touch with you.

6. Know What Triggers You

Any situation, event or behaviour that makes you uncomfortable or angry is regarded as a “trigger”. They differ from person to person. It is important to be aware of the situations or behaviour that is capable of triggering your emotions before spending time with any of your family members or relatives. You have to know – 

  • What they are
  • Emotions influenced by the triggers
  • How to take care of yourself
  • What is the right way to respond

You may even practice with a friend how to respond to a particular situation that is likely to take place when spending time with family members or relatives.

It enables you to respond using the least inflammatory tone or language if the anticipated scenario takes place.

7. Don’t Take Other People’s Reactions Personally

The boundaries set by you may not be appreciated by everyone. However, it is important to remember that these reactions (shaming, blaming or criticizing) result from their own feelings, thoughts or experiences.

They may not be used to having boundaries between family members or relatives or may not want to respect the boundary. Thus, you have to remember that you have done nothing wrong by setting boundaries for family members or others close to you.

8. Make a List of Coping Strategies

Spending time with your family members or relatives during holidays may fuel anger or may cause frustration if you do not share an amicable relationship with them.

On the other hand, you may decide to stay alone during holidays instead of spending time with your family members and may feel lonely due to this reason. In both scenarios, you need to have a coping strategy in order to have control over your emotions.

For example, you may go for a walk, listen to your favourite songs or tunes, vent out your emotion to a reliable and caring friend, join an online support group or consult with a therapist etc.

There are different ways to cope with the scenarios capable of challenging your mental well-being when you are in the company of people who do not make you feel comfortable, loved or appreciated.


It is not easy to set boundaries for your family members or relatives. You may fail at it or may succeed. However, it will be a beneficial experience in both scenarios.

If you fail, then you will learn to have a refined strategy for the next time. If you succeed, then it will be easier for you to spend time with your family members. Setting boundaries is a skill that you have to master over time. 

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