Healthy Boundaries: Tips for Families
Katie, a deeply caring single-parent mom, sought my advice as a child psychologist because her twelve-year-old son refused to go to school. Talking it over, she began to realize how over involved she was with her son. She confessed that she could even feel the pain in her gums when he went to the orthodontist and got his braces tightened! If you are a parent, you can probably relate to this story. But do you find it funny?
Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself about your own family:
- Does your family demonstrate too much closeness or too much distance or just the right dose of each?
- Are your kids capable of spending time alone or constantly trying to involve you in everything they do?
- Do you, as parents, get any alone time or time away with friends?
- Are children able to respect the right of parents to be alone and make certain decisions behind closed doors?
One of the most important keys to a happy, healthy family is finding a balance between two competing needs—one for closeness and the other for distance. Don MacMannis, Ph.D. is a psychologist who has treated children and families for the past forty years. Award-winning PBS songwriter, he has produced a series of research-based songs and activities for social and emotional learning at kidseps.com. He has also co-written a book about healthy families, and free family assessments can be found at howsyourfamily.com.