Hope For Parents With Struggling Teens

Boundaries II

November 29, 2022 Brandon Joffe, LCSW
Hope For Parents With Struggling Teens
Boundaries II
Show Notes

This episode it all about boundary setting.

The topic of setting healthy boundaries is a significant part of my practice. When done correctly, it can be a game changer in many challenging parenting dynamics.

Many parents have heard of and tried setting boundaries, but it’s common to begin the boundaries journey with some misconceptions about what they do and why they’re important. 

It’s normal for a parent to desire to change a teen’s behavior - especially if that behavior is destructive - but setting boundaries actually isn’t about controlling another person or modifying someone else’s behavior. 

It’s about protecting OURSELVES so we can be the best parent/spouse/person possible and live out of a place of peace and health instead of exhaustion, anger, and frustration.

I encourage parents to ask themselves these five questions around boundary setting: What am I protecting, what do I have control over, what am I able to follow through with, what am I willing to follow through with, and what might get in the way when I begin to implement this boundary?

Answering these five questions will give you clarity about exactly what you’re going to do and why. Make it concrete and specific, for instance: when you cuss at me I’m going to leave the room, and it’s going to make me not want to do you any favors like drive you to your friend’s house.

As you reflect on these questions, you may spot an area of life where you’re enabling, for instance, protecting your teen from the natural consequences of their decisions. It may be time to calmly explain that you’re going to stop guarding them against real life in those ways and then begin to follow through and create a new normal for yourself. 

It’s also really important to remove ourselves from what I like to call “insane conversations.” These are the arguments that get heated and go nowhere - and often repeat again and again. When we spot a recurring “insane conversation,” it’s time to change the game plan to something that will have a better chance of diffusing. This can have better long-term effects on the atmosphere in your home. 

Sometimes, boundary setting does change the behavior of your teen, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it teaches them something they’ll finally act on later on, and sometimes it simply serves to keep a calmer dynamic so that adjacent subjects and issues can have a greater chance of improvement.