With multiple variants of the coronavirus emerging and rapidly changing advice related to booster shots, social distancing, and other ways of preventing yourself and others from getting sick, it’s no secret that this is a challenging time where many people are being forced to make tough choices. As a result, you might be in a place where you need to set new boundaries with those around you – including your family. Due to the nature of family dynamics, this can be tough, but it is possible to set boundaries with family and succeed. So, what do you do?
Why Is It So Hard To Set Boundaries With Family?
First, why is it extra difficult to set boundaries with family? There are a number of different reasons why it might be harder to set boundaries with your family as opposed to other people in your life. It could be that your family guilt trips you, that you worry about offending family with your boundaries, that they’re more apt to try to cross your boundaries than the other people in your life are, that you worry it could start an argument, or something else.
Family knows how to push our buttons in a way that other people don’t, and historically, you may have put up with more pushback from your family or changed your boundaries for your family because of your relation to them. However, it is possible to stop that cycle, and it’s vital when it comes to your health and safety.
Setting Boundaries With Family During The COVID-19 Pandemic
Here are some things you can do to set boundaries with family during the covid-19 pandemic:
Remember the reasons for your boundaries.
Since setting boundaries can be tough, especially with family, it can be helpful to remind yourself why you’re doing it. Whether it’s a matter of protecting yourself and those who live with you from the virus or taking care of yourself and your mental health, your boundaries are there for a reason. If boundary setting is relatively new to you, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re creating healthier patterns for yourself, and you’re doing what you need to do.
Communicate calmly and firmly.
When you communicate your boundary to your family, be direct and keep the tone of your voice calm. Reiterate your boundary as many times as you need to, and think in advance about what you will do if they are upset or fight back. If you have already expressed your boundary, especially if it’s been multiple times, you can let them know that your boundary remains and that it isn’t up for further discussion.
Propose an alternative.
You don’t have to cross your boundaries to show your family love or spend time with them. More often than not, there’s a way to meet in the middle. Your family isn’t vaccinated, but they want to see you and your kids? Suggest a phone call or video chat session. They know you’re working from home due to COVID-19 and want to talk during work hours? Let them know that you’ll call them later, or simply do not pick up and call them back when you are free.
Stick to your word.
Once you set your boundary, stick to it. Let’s say that you propose an alternative like the ones above, and your family fights back, makes a snide comment, starts to raise their voice, or shows another similar response. Staying level and firm, reiterate your boundary as many times as you need to. If a family member fights you on it or starts to raise their voice, you have every right to say something like, “I have set my boundary, and it is not up for further discussion. I love you and will talk to you at a calmer time.”
Setting boundaries and having tough conversations with family members as a whole can be emotionally taxing. Make sure that you have a support system and coping skills to turn to. Talking to a friend, significant other, support group, or therapist who understands can help. If you’re struggling with boundary setting, need a place to talk about what’s on your mind, want to learn new coping skills, or have anything else to discuss, adding a therapist or counselor to your support system can be a game-changer.
Find A Therapist
Whether you’re facing concerns related to family, stress related to the pandemic and other areas of life, a mental health condition, or something else that’s on your mind, a therapist or counselor can help. To find a therapist, you can search the web, contact your insurance company to see which providers they cover near you, ask your doctor for a referral, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform with licensed providers like BetterHelp. Online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance, and it’s a great way to access a broad range of providers who are licensed in your state. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to get the support you need. Don’t hesitate to take the first step and reach out or sign up today.
Author Marie Miguel Biography:
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.