We are expected to have good boundaries and follow social rules when invited into another person's home. We ring the doorbell, wait to be invited in, and then sit where we are told to sit. We don’t open the cupboards or wander around, and we usually find a way to give a compliment related to the home’s décor. Yet, when children are part of this picture and an adult is left in charge in your home, boundaries can quickly become blurred if good communication and clear expectations are not in place. Many people wonder about how they can best communicate and share family values and maintain boundaries with grandparents, babysitters, other caregivers, and neighbors.
Whether you are wanting to set boundaries related to discipline approaches, expectations for your children’s diet, or areas of your home that are “off limits,” it is essential to have a plan for communicating these desires with the adult in charge. We all know it’s easy for kids to say, “It’s okay, my parents wouldn’t mind” and test the boundaries. This type of situation leaves the well-intended adult in a tricky situation, and they end up using their own values to make a decision, which may not be aligned with your hopes or expectations.
Here are some tips for setting boundaries with other caregivers in your home:
When you listen to people in newly formed relationships, you hear them say things like, “We have so much in common,” and, “I can talk to them for hours and hours.” Regular date nights, fun activities, and spending time together are a natural part of the dating experience as partners get to know each other. We all know that it takes time and effort to maintain this. As time passes, it becomes easy to find yourself engaging in separate activities at home with your partner and feeling alone in your relationship. Having some separate interests and activities are indeed important for maintaining your individuality in a relationship. However, it’s also vital to make sure there is regular time for you and your partner to come together. Working, raising a family, and engagement in other activities often taken priority over date nights and intimate conversations with your partner. While it feels like this quality time with your partner is a luxury and not as important as other daily tasks, I argue that shared meaningful activities and conversations are essential to continue to fuel your marriage.
You will have an easier time connecting with your partner on an emotional level, understanding their thoughts and beliefs, and working through conflict in your relationship when you regularly have positive, quality interactions with each other. Think of having a good friendship in your marriage as essential for having a solid foundation. When you have playfulness and connection in your relationship, you’re more likely to interpret your partner’s eye roll or snarky comment as them having a rough day rather than a personal attack on you because that foundation of positive experiences and connection is solid. You’re also more likely to offer the response your partner needs in these tough moments and you’ll be more prepared to help your partner calm down before the minor situation leads to a major blow up.
When working with couples in therapy, I often hear about how they would love to carve out more time for each other but just don’t have the time to make it work. Weekly date nights sound fantastic, and we know they are probably not realistic for busy families. It’s more important to set a goal that you can sustain and incorporate into your routine. Start small and talk with your partner about what would be fun for them. Schedule a few minutes with your spouse after you put the kids to bed. Don’t wait around for your partner to make the first move with enhancing quality time. It’s okay for you to take the lead, and know that it will take practice and persistence. You can search online for dozens of date night ideas, but what matters most is finding an activity that is meaningful to both you and your partner. It’s also important to have meaningful conversations about each of your hopes and dreams for the future. Schedule time to play a game together, take a walk, or engage in a hobby together. You will be surprised to learn something new about your sweetheart and it will feel good to re-experience the connection you had early in your relationship.
Sara Kind-Michels, MS, LPC, LMFT
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