Everyone has his or her own idea of what boundaries are acceptable. It’s when there is a big difference in what is acceptable to different people that problems arise. I am talking about boundaries related to personal space, privacy, topics that are appropriate to discuss, and things of that nature.
For example, I’m certainly not one to snoop through other family members’ belongings or things like their computer history, with the one exception of when it is necessary to keep tabs on my kids. Even then, I don’t exercise that right all that often. I like to respect people’s privacy and personal space because I would like that in return, not that I have anything to hide. Unfortunately, I have not gotten that in return. I know there are plenty of people who think it’s their right to go through their significant other’s phone, computer, and other belongings whenever they feel like it, even if there is no reason to be suspicious of any wrongdoing. It’s just their right. I don’t agree with that.
Even though my soon-to-be ex-husband hasn’t lived in the house for a while now, he still thinks it’s perfectly fine to just walk right in as if he still lives here. He thinks that just because we can get along and work together with regards to the kids, that means he’s welcome to do that. Getting along and invading personal space are two different things.
Boundaries really boil down to respect and trust, so if someone doesn’t respect your boundaries even if they disagree with them, then they really don’t respect you. I think that’s one thing that differentiates “takers” is that they tend to not respect boundaries and feel like they have a right to do whatever they want whenever they want. It’s up to the “givers” to set and enforce the boundaries.
This can be difficult though when you are dealing with someone who not only doesn’t respect boundaries but also reacts very negatively when it is brought to his or her attention. In my opinion, how adults react to boundaries or view them in the first place has a lot to do with whether or not boundaries were set for them as they were children and how well their parents did at maintaining that. Obviously, kids are going to push boundaries and test limits. It’s a part of becoming an individual separate from your parents. I’m all for pushing boundaries when they are along the lines of accomplishing something that has never been done before and things like that, but when kids push boundaries that have to do with curfews, acceptable behavior, responsibilities, personal space, and so on, I think it’s a parent’s responsibility to remind them that there are boundaries and consequences for not adhering to them. And we need to teach them that there can’t be any double standards when it comes to boundaries. If they don’t want a sibling going into their room to borrow a book, then they can’t go borrow one from their room whenever they feel like it.
The bottom line is that it’s perfectly healthy and necessary to set boundaries and expect others to adhere to them. We just need to understand that it might be necessary to make it clear what the boundaries are because not everyone’s are the same. If we don’t make it clear, then we may not have a right to be upset if we are assuming the other person understands our boundaries when perhaps that is not the case. We also need to be respectful of others’ boundaries, even if they are different than ours because if we violate them, it will most likely be interpreted as lack of respect. If there is a question as to what the boundaries are, it is better to err on the side of caution and not make assumptions. The more conscious we can be about boundaries, whether it’s from a parenting perspective or the perspective of interacting with others, the better off we’ll all be.
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