When family members start making impossible demands on you, it’s time to set firm boundaries.
Every family dynamic is different, depending on the personalities of parents and children. During early adolescence, parents create a unique set of expectations for their children. Until you move out, your family may implement a list of daily responsibilities to ensure you contribute to the household.
Sometimes you feel that parents or siblings expect too much of you. When you express your dissatisfaction, they respond with anger or disappointment, pointing out that they hold the authority in the relationship. However, with persistence and honesty, you can learn to set healthy boundaries with your family, allowing your voice to be heard.
1. Practice Mutual Respect
As you grow older, the dynamic between you and your family shifts drastically. You begin to adopt a more independent lifestyle and as a result of your availability to spend time together decreases. Explain to your family that they need to respect your space and understand you cannot be there 24/7 to cater towards their needs.
However, respect goes both ways. In order for them to treat you as an adult, they need to believe you will not respond to their requests by immediately lashing out. Anger and defensive words from any person, including yourself, will not encourage respect in the relationship.
2. Communicate in Person
Cell phones make it incredibly easy to send a two-sentence text, commanding someone to complete a chore. This method of communication allows a person to avoid arguments and feelings of shame for requesting large favors from others.
If someone asks you to do something over text, or if you want to discuss an issue you’re having with a family member, refrain from communicating exclusively through a phone. Talk to them in person, use eye contact and keep a steady voice to let them know how you are feeling.
3. Discuss Time Expectations
Sit down with family members and ask them to explain what they expect from you on a weekly basis. Clarify that you do understand the necessity of responsibilities, but feel that unanticipated requests set unfair expectations.
Find a middle ground that both sides agree is a healthy amount of responsibilities. Consider making a chart or list to keep in the house that includes all of the discussed expectations. Next time an argument occurs, reference the list to see if the request falls under one of the predetermined responsibilities.
4. Empathize With One Another
Try to see each other’s point of view. Your family members may hold different expectations based on what their parents expected of them, or the time period they grew up in. Remember that your parents love you and want what is best, although it may not always seem that way. Remind your family that the age gap makes it difficult to agree, but you should always try to understand where the other person is coming from.
5. Cut Yourself Some Slack
You can only take on so many responsibilities at once. It’s difficult to avoid feelings of guilt when the people you care about express disappointment towards you. Remember that your purpose is not to cater to the needs of others at all times. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t push the emotions aside out of shame. Help others when you have availability, and maintain your responsibilities, but remember to take care of yourself.
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