How to Set Boundaries With Mom

Our relationship with our mothers can be difficult. Even if you have a close relationship with your mom, you might have thoughts such as “I wish she didn’t call every day”, “I don’t like it when she makes me feel guilty about my choices” or “I don’t I love it when my mom interferes in my personal life.”

If you have experienced these feelings before, you are not alone. Even as adults, we often struggle with independence and detachment when it comes to how we interact with our moms. You may still seek her approval, even if you resent him. Or you may find it hard to tell her what you need from her. For example, you may prefer her to listen to you rather than give you advice and criticism, but don’t know how to tell her how you feel.

This is where the creation of boundaries comes in.

“Boundaries are an important life skill needed for healthy relationships. This includes communicating your needs through verbal self-affirmation, as well as various actions to set limits through actions,” says Dr. Amelia Kelly , trauma information therapist and co-author of What I Would Like to Know: Surviving and Thriving After Abuse “. Relations . “An example of a boundary set by an action would be the decision not to pick up the phone during lunch after you had previously indicated that you could not speak at that time.”

When it comes to setting boundaries with your mother, Kelly calls it “hard stuff” but “more important” when you’re trying to establish your own sense of self.

“Children are constantly pushing boundaries with their mother, but in early adulthood, more dramatic boundaries start to set,” she says. “Moving out of home and choosing life goals that are at odds with your mother is an important part of figuring out who you are. Other common cases where boundaries are necessary include choosing a life partner, choosing a career or where you want to live, and choosing your personal values ​​such as spirituality or political affiliation.”

Kelly says that depending on how you mature between you and your mother, some of these choices will match your mother, while others may be drastically different. “If that happens, boundaries are necessary for you to feel respected as the person you have become.”

If your relationship with your mother isn’t as balanced as you’d like and you’d like to start setting boundaries with her, here’s what you need to know, according to the experts.

Benefits of Borders

According to Dr. Carla Manley , California psychologist and author of Joy Out of Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend , there are many benefits to having boundaries on the physical, mental, and emotional levels.

“When we have firm boundaries, we can express our feelings and allow others to express their feelings. In addition, clear boundaries allow us to express our individuality in a healthy way.”

To put it clearly, Manly says that healthy emotional boundaries help others become aware of our needs; setting clear boundaries eliminates confusion and expands personal opportunities. “Good boundaries also provide us with a physical space that makes us feel safe.”

Why is it important to have boundaries with your mother?

According to Manley, it is important to have clear boundaries with the mother in order to have a healthy relationship: “When healthy boundaries are missing, confusion (an unhealthy emotional fusion that prevents individuation) often ensues. When there are no healthy boundaries between mother and child, there can be a lack of separation – emotional and even physical.”

For example, if the mother does not allow the child to have his own thoughts about relationships, he may grow up to model the mother’s relationship patterns rather than develop his own. In some cases, mothers and children do not have healthy boundaries when it comes to shared beliefs, such as political or religious issues. If a mother does not allow her children to explore their own beliefs, the child will be limited to being a mirror image of her mother and not herself.

Another example, according to Manley, is that if a mother believes that her child should please people, and does not allow him to learn and voice his own needs, the child is most likely destined to become a people-pleaser. In addition, some mothers use their financial resources to put pressure on an adult child.

“In such cases,” says Manley, “the mother may intrude on the boundaries of the adult child and use finances as a way to coerce the adult child into certain behaviors.”

In other cases, the mother may become overly involved in parenting practices, becoming aggressive and interfering with how her daughter is raising her own children.

In more severe cases, especially those with adverse childhoods and no healthy bonds with their mothers, Kelly says tighter boundaries are needed to protect themselves from further emotional abuse or manipulation.

“Because someone is your mother doesn’t always mean they are healthy for you,” Kelly says, “and you have the right to ask for distance or even practice radio silence from time to time, ending the relationship completely.”

How to set boundaries with your mother

While setting boundaries with a mother can seem difficult and stressful, Kelly says there are ways to set boundaries that will help maintain positive dynamics and relationships.

“First, start by being honest — she won’t know you’re not telling her,” Kelly says. “Until you express your wants and needs, she cannot change her behavior. Some find it difficult to talk directly to someone whose opinion matters so much, so writing a letter or email can be a helpful way to start a conversation.”

She also recommends expressing gratitude for her contributions, efforts, and what she has provided to you in the past.

“Creating space between mother and child is healthy but can also lead to strong emotions, so expressing gratitude helps remind your mother how much you care about her and your relationship, even if you openly disagree or distance yourself from her.”

When it comes to setting boundaries with your mother or anyone close to you, Manly recommends knowing your needs first. Once you know your needs, you can express them calmly and clearly.

“In general, the best scenarios for establishing boundaries are very simple and straightforward,” she says. “As new boundaries are established, it may take some time for others to respect clear, healthy boundaries.”

Here are some examples of useful scenarios for establishing boundaries.

1. “Please respect my boundaries in this matter. It is important to me and my personal well-being that you respect my needs.”

2. “I understand that you are not used to setting boundaries, but I know that it is important to my well-being that my boundaries are respected. I know that you care about me, so please fulfill my wishes.”

3. “I get very disrespected when my boundaries are ignored. It is important to my personal well-being and the health of our relationship that you respect my needs.”

Also, adding a sincere “I love you” often makes it easier for the mother to set boundaries.

Why Defining Boundaries With Your Mother Can Be So Difficult

It may be easier to set boundaries with a colleague or even a good friend, but when it comes to setting them with your mom, it can seem difficult. Kelly says there is a good reason for this.

“The closer we are to someone, the harder it is to set a boundary,” she says. “It has to do with investing in relationships. The more we invest, the more is at stake if the relationship suffers. While our mothers may be our biggest fans, they can also be our biggest critics. They often know us better than anyone else, and for that reason they tend to have more opinions about how we live.”

That’s why it’s even more important to set boundaries with mom. Because, as Kelly says, when we have healthy boundaries with our mother, “we feel more at ease when we share our personality with her, and the relationship becomes more honest and sincere. When boundaries are not respected, it can be difficult to feel secure in expressing yourself, and many people will find that relationships suffer.”

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