How to Set Boundaries With Family Over the Holidays

Three Ways to Set Your Boundaries Over the Holidays I’ve had several male patients in my office who let the people in their life walk all over them. And they all do it in the name of keeping their reputation as a “Nice Guy.” My first questions are always the same. I say, Where is it written that Nice Guys can’t say no? Is there a law that to be a Nice Guy, you have to put up with abusive comments and invasive questions? Does the dictionary define Nice Guy as, “A man who allows others to take advantage of him”? The answers? No. No. And No.  The critical factor here is they need to learn how to set boundaries with family. I’ve had so many Nice Guys in my office and heard so many stories about the pain they’re feeling. My message for Nice Guys everywhere: It is possible to set and maintain your boundaries with friends and family without turning into a jerk. Three tactics on How to Set Boundaries with Family and Friends this Holiday Seasons While it’s impossible to control what people say to or expect of us during the holidays, there is a lot we can do to manage our behavior while we’re with them. I tell my patients to practice three boundary setting tactics: Stop inappropriate behavior in its tracks Preemptively set boundaries Change the subject when faced with inappropriate comments One: Stop inappropriate behavior in its tracks Finally, one of the most anxiety-producing holiday situations my patients experience is the feeling of being “stuck” with people whose behavior makes them uncomfortable. This can be physical, such as relatives who don’t share the same boundaries around hugging or kissing, etc., or it can also be environmental, such as the relative who loves to bring up touchy subjects like politics. No matter what form the inappropriate behavior takes, you don’t have to spend the holidays “stuck” in its net. For example, one of my patients doesn’t enjoy copious amounts of physical contact with anyone except his wife. His wife’s family, however, is very physical, and he used to dread spending time with them because they had no inhibitions about snuggling up to him on the couch or touching his arms or legs while in conversation. Now, instead of feeling uncomfortable and “stuck,” he promptly moves his hand or foot, etc. out of physical contact and …

Is your teens behavior normal teenage behavior?

What is normal teenage behavior? Parents: Let’s talk about YOU and your emotional well-being. Some parents are overly concerned or continue to be worried about their teenager not being perfect. Despite being told by others that their teen has normal teenage behavior. Or despite being told by a therapist that their teenager is normal; they continue being worried. We call this a defense. Sometimes, people get wrapped up in other people’s problems or concerns as a way to avoid what’s going on within themselves. Typically, this is an emotional issue. Some examples: If you are having trouble grieving the loss of your baby (teen), which is what a teenager highlights for you- the child that you had that is no longer around, it does set up grief within us. Some parents may become overly concerned about their child’s normal teenage behavior. Grief involves sadness and anger. A lot of people have trouble with these emotions. If you’re one of them, then you will be delaying going through that grief. You’ll delay it by getting overly wrapped up in the details of your child. Of course, this isn’t good with the relationship for your child and can set your child up to have emotional or relational problems. That typically happens in people who are raised in families who did not deal with grief well. If your primary relationship with your spouse is damaged, it’s possible you are unconsciously avoiding that by getting wrapped up in what your child is doing while not realizing your child’s behavior is normal teenage behavior. Typically, I see this when there was a problem in the relationship before the children. The children became this great distraction. Especially if you are on the same page as your spouse on how to raise the children, it’s like a shared experience. When that ends, the relationship falls apart or hasn’t gotten any better so, it may be that you are having problems with your spouse that you need to address. If you’re using your kids to fix something between you, that’s certainly not going to work. Turning emotions on yourself. Turning emotions on yourself is another way for people who cannot express emotions well. An example of this include: chronic worrying or being overly concerned about their child’s normal teenage behavior. We’re all concerned about our kids but, if it goes on to the point where you aren’t doing …

Worried About Your Teenagers’ Disrespectful Behavior?

What do you do with your teenagers’ disrespectful behavior? This disrespectful behavior may not be a sign of sociopath or narcissist behavior because it’s a way of separating, and it’s normal teenage behavior. But, you may be wondering how do you keep the behavior from spinning out of control; that way, they don’t become a narcissist or sociopath. The answer is: YOU HAVE TO CHANGE. My patients who are parents often make the same mistake, which is they try to change their child. “You can’t talk that way; you’re being nasty, you can’t be rude.” The problem with this is, it’s just telling them how to behave. How do we all respond to that? We don’t like to be told what to do, and neither does your teenager, it’s not going to work. Remember, the emotional goal for your teenager to not be a sociopath or narcissist is to be able to express their emotions well — especially anger, sadness, and neediness. What I mean by changing yourself is you have to express anger, sadness, and neediness and be a role model, instead of telling your child what to do. Examples: Let’s say your child is name-calling. Stop them immediately and say, “It’s hurtful when you use name-calling when you’re talking to me, I can’t even hear what you are saying. I’m going off to the garage, if you can tell me this later without the name-calling, I’d be glad to listen.” Let’s say your child is shouting. You can say, “It really irritates me when you’re shouting at me. It makes it very hard for me to hear what you are saying. I’m going off to the kitchen if you can say this without shouting I’d be glad to listen.” I was talking to a parent, and he was doing a favor by picking up his child from the bus that way, his child did not have to take the dreaded bus. His child was using provocative language, and he felt like the child was trying to get under his skin by saying things that were personally offensive to him. So, the next time he could say, “I’m not going to pick you up from school anymore because it is very upsetting to me. I need to have a car ride home that does not involve this provocative language, So I will not be picking you up from school …

How to Recognize Good Emotional Boundaries

How to Recognize a Good Boundary When You See It Maintaining good personal emotional boundaries is a very important element of positive mental health. Emotional boundaries protect us from manipulation and from being taken advantage of. They help minimize hurt and frustration. They build our self-confidence and even help improve our relationships. But what are they, and why are they so tricky? In my experience, most patients believe they have better personal boundaries than they do. They say, “I’d never tolerate [x]” or “I’ll never put up with [y] again.” But when it comes time to exercise those boundaries, they don’t. They loan them money or swallow the insults or ignore the behavior they swore they’d never overlook again. And the cycle continues to repeats itself. Since this is such a common cycle, I’d like to examine the basic elements of healthy emotional boundaries. To illustrate, let me tell you about the story of my patient, Gary. Gary couldn’t say no. Gary was a successful real estate broker who couldn’t say no to his adult daughter. Every time she needed money — whether two hundred dollars or two thousand dollars — he gave it to her. Then when she spent it on expensive clothes or indulgent nights out, he’d despair that she’d essentially thrown his money away. He made comments about her being irresponsible. He told her he wasn’t going to give her any money unless he knew precisely how she was going to spend it. Then they’d argue, and she’d cry, and he’d feel terrible and he’d end up writing his daughter a check. I asked him why he couldn’t say no to his daughter’s requests. He explained that he and his wife divorced when his daughter was young. “It was so hard on her,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt her any more than I already have.” Then he added, “Plus, I have the money. I’ve done well for myself. Why wouldn’t I share it with my daughter?” The answer to that question is where Gary and I began our work together. Emotional Boundaries are rarely black and white Gary had a partial understanding of personal boundaries. He saw them as absolutes, as lines in the sand. “I would never give her money for drugs,” for example. Boundaries, however, are rarely so black and white. Instead, they’re more effectively viewed as limits, as the threshold between when …

Is my Child a Sociopath?

 Do you ever ask yourself, “Is my child a sociopath?” Or wonder how someone becomes a sociopath? How to know or get an idea of whether your child is on the path toward a personality disorder. First, we must understand that emotional health is about being able to express our emotions. We must especially be able to express the negative emotions; anger, neediness, and sadness. The ultimate emotional wellbeing is someone who can express their emotions. This is very important for relationship purposes because that is how we relate to people. By talking about our emotions, not acting out on them- that’s a younger child thing, not a teenager, young adult, or adult. People need to talk about their emotions in relationships and dissipate emotions. Emotions dissipate by talking about them. Relationships and Emotions If you take those two factors to find out if your child is on the wrong path in terms of developing their relationships, you’ll want to look at their relationships. You’ll want to look outside of their family relationships because how they treat the family can be very different and often is because they’re trying to separate from you. You can go to the teachers and ask how your child is relating to peers and other teachers. Ask your child’s friend’s parents how your child is doing with their family, as well as their pets. You can learn a lot about a child’s empathy by how they deal with pets. Also, you can go to the child’s coaches and ask how the child is dealing with other coaches and teammates. Asking the people outside of your family about how your child is doing, is a way to see how your child’s relationships are forming in general. If those are all pretty good, then your child is on the right track. If your child is having trouble with expressing their emotions, those are most likely damaged or not very healthy. Expressing Emotions If your child is not able to express their emotions and their emotions are not dissipating correctly, you’ll often see the child turning the emotions inward. In this case, you’ll want to look for any on-going self-harm. Such as cutting, chronic overeating or obesity, or addiction. Of course, kids experiment, but if you find something such as a fifth of vodka under their bed, that is a long-standing form of hurting themselves.  These are …