Boundaries in Families

June 26, 2017

Jesus is my favorite guy.  He was bold and wasn’t worried if anyone was offended by what He said.  He wasn’t worried about what they thought of Him.  He boldly spoke, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you,” John 6:53.  What?  Eat a dude’s flesh?  What is this weirdo talking about?  I’m outta hear.  Jesus didn’t care.  He continued. “And many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him,” John 6:66.

And if they walk away, did they really love me to begin with?

He was bold.  He spoke his mind.  He didn’t worry about what others thought.

I don’t mind confrontation.  In fact, I think it’s healthy and good to “engage the funk” as my previous pastor used to say.  It’s not good to hold things inside.  It rots away at your soul.

My husband and I have a rule when it comes to our families.  You deal with yours and I deal with mine.  But boundaries are difficult to put in place.

If I could give my children one piece of advice, as a mother who loves Jesus, though often fails to act like a Jesus follower, I would say, “Kiddos, I love you all.  I love you so much that when you get married, I want you to move as far away from me and daddy and your in-laws as possible.”  At least for the first 5-10 years.  We promise to come visit you and your beautiful babies when we are invited.

I say that out of love.  Not that I wouldn’t want them right down the road from me, I would.  Not that I wouldn’t love them to come over for Sunday dinners, I would.  But as a newly married couple, they need to learn life together, without the interference of parents.

I wish we moved away further.  I wish we moved so that my family and I could live out our first 5-10 years becoming solid in our family routines, figuring out finances, child-rearing, marriage.  The only person I want “interfering” in my life, to give me guidance and counsel is the Holy Spirit, John 14:26.

I am not saying that parents and in-laws aren’t invaluable to our family.  They are.  They have lived longer than we have.  They have experienced things we haven’t… and hopefully never will.  They know things we don’t know… but so do we.  They are wise… not always.

Boundaries are needed.  They are essential to a healthy marriage.  Set them up early.

This is where we failed.  And now, it’s hard.

I sit back and watch and listen and wait but confrontation is hard for some.  It doesn’t come naturally.  It’s a skill that must be practiced and worked on.  But in order to confront, one must at least try.  Say something, anything.

“I don’t appreciate the way you spoke to my wife last week.”

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak like that in front of my children.”

“I kindly ask that you respect our boundaries.  We won’t be having weekly get-togethers.  We need our own family time, and by family, I mean, me, my husband and my kids.”

These words don’t come easily.  The receiving side takes offense.  They take it personally.  They don’t understand that this is about us.  We are doing this for us.

But like Jesus, we shouldn’t care what they think.  We shouldn’t care if they secretly curse us in the dark and think us to be unfit parents because of our choice of lifestyles.  That’s their problem.

If parents and in-laws are rude, offensive, unkind, disrespectful, inappropriate, it is necessary to take a leap back to protect your family.  And guess what, that’s good!  That’s needed!  But hopefully, they come around and see your strength and respect you all the more for it.  Hopefully, they love you enough to respect your boundaries.

How do you speak up?  What do you say?  How do you engage the funk?

  • Be calm.
  • Speak your words.
  • Remain in control of your words.  Do not allow anger to creep in.
  • Use less words.
  • Listen to response.
  • You do not need to respond to questions and comments unless you want to.
  • Repeat your wishes.
  • If your words fall on deaf ears, build the fence, make the boundary.  “You cannot spend time with the children, until you stop…”
  • More comments and questions come at you.
  • Repeat yourself one more time.
  • Thank them for “listening”.
  • Walk away.  Or hang up.

Be bold and courageous, Joshua 1:9.



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