Not every relationship that we sometimes feel obligated to maintain is a healthy one. Sometimes it is necessary to think about setting healthy boundaries and expectations. Setting boundaries allows us to state what we will and will not allow from other people, and then it is up to them to respect that.
Many of you know Stormi’s daddy, Kirt died in September while in the line of duty. It has been seven months since he passed, and we are all still picking up the pieces. Watching my daughter Sidney go through all of this is heartbreaking. There really is nothing worse than watching one of your children struggle while knowing that there is nothing you can do to fix it. She is a twenty year old single mother who is still trying to find her place in this world, and the only person that she had to help her parent her child was taken from this earth! Most children have two parents, even if those parents are divorced. In most cases there are TWO parents making decisions for the child, sharing the responsibility of raising a child. So now she depends on me, not because she isn’t capable of doing it herself, but because she realizes that she needs help from someone who truly loves her unconditionally and who will always help her do the right thing when it comes to raising a child who has lost her father.
Sidney has had to grow up overnight, way earlier than most people do. While I do not always agree with her choices, there is no doubt in my mind that she loves Stormi and is a great mother. I am thankful that she leans on me, but I am sad that she is faced with the reality that she can’t truly lean on other people that she should be able to depend on. Not everyone truly has Sidney or Stormi’s best interest at heart. People are grieving and everyone deals with grief differently. In this case grief has caused some others to be distant and sometimes even downright mean.
Setting boundaries is the only way that we can sometimes deal with people who we feel obligated to maintain a relationship with. Even Sidney and I have had to set boundaries between the two of us. Just because I am her mother and she is my daughter does not mean that there are not boundaries. But she and I are mother and daughter. No matter what happens between us, that will never change. She and I will always be there for each other. But how do you set boundaries with other people who are not always looking out for your best interest?
How To Set Healthy Boundaries
Communicate Thoughts, Feelings, and Needs: Not everyone is going to put your thoughts, feelings, and needs before their own. In many cases people are not even capable of doing so. Loving others more than yourself is something that Christ teaches us to do, but even some Christians struggle with this. One way to set healthy boundaries is to come right out and tell people how you are feeling and what you need or don’t need from them. Anyone who truly loves you will respect this.
Leave Situations That Are Harmful To You: If maintaining a relationship with someone is harmful to your own state of mind, then chances are it is also going to be harmful to your child’s state of mind as well. Walking away from relationships that you care about is sometimes necessary in order for us to continue being healthy ourselves. Conflict is not worth your own state of mind or a bitter heart.
Learn To Say NO: There are some people who choose to lash out and get mean when they do not get their way. Even being passive aggressive can be difficult to deal with. We can sometimes be tempted to give in to other people because we want to just keep the peace. It is sometimes easier to just give them what they want rather than doing what is best for us. Some people will always try to take advantage of you, so it is important to stand up for yourself and learn how to say no to these people.
Do Not Argue: If you bring up something that is concerning you and that person chooses to reflect (meaning that they can’t see why you are upset because they are too busy trying to point out YOUR faults) then walk away. Do not engage in unhealthy conversations that will only bring more drama. Some people do not know how to humble themselves and consider that they may actually have done anything wrong. Instead they will try to lay blame on you and lash out with ridiculous comebacks. That is when it is time to walk away. Do not engage.
Expect Others To Support Your Relationship With Your Child: Regardless of how others may feel about you personally, if they truly care about your child they will always support that child’s relationship with you. If you find that someone is talking negatively about you to your child, in front of your child, or even to other people in your community, that is unhealthy for both of you. It may be time to state your expectations and be willing to walk away if they are not met.
Be Clear About Your Expectations: When stating your expectations it is important to state them clearly and calmly. Do not beat around the bush because some people may not take you seriously. Being firm does not mean being mean.
What To Do When People Continue To Cross Boundaries
Be Clear With Yourself About What You Will Accept: The first step is to make sure that you set boundaries that you will stick with. Decide how you will allow people to behave or to treat you and then decide what action you will take if they abuse your boundaries.
Detach From The Outcome: You can’t control how other people choose to behave or how they treat you. But you can control how much you are willing to allow it to continue. Some relationships, no matter how much you WANT them to be present, will end up being negative to you or your child’s health. Sometimes it is necessary to walk away completely than to continue allowing it into your life. Even people that we desperately want to love can be toxic.
Nobody is perfect. Not even you! But even if you are capable of recognizing your own faults, that does not mean that other people can. Grief comes out in many ways from many different people. Life altering tragedies may require a season of healing, and setting healthy boundaries may be necessary. Anyone who truly loves you will understand this, and if they don’t then maybe it is time to truly reflect on what space you allow them to have in your life.
To the single parents out there who have ever found themselves put in a position to have to make some very difficult decisions for you and your child… I lift you up in prayer every day. Watching my own daughter have to navigate all of these feelings is difficult for this mama bear. And to the other mamas out there who are watching your child deal with grief, I am lifting you up as well. We can support them where they will allow us to, but we can always pray.