Family relationships can be so complicated you almost wonder if God (or whoever is in charge) gave them to us so we’d have to practice diplomacy, patience, and compassion our entire lives. Because those are traits you need to have to keep the peace with your family — most of the time.
There’s no other relationship like that with your family. With coworkers, it’s normal to set up hard boundaries and keep things totally professional. You can’t do that with family. You can try but, you know they won’t let you keep that up for long. With a romantic partner, you can put all of your guards down. If you find the person who is best for you, then that is someone with whom you should feel safe sharing everything – your secrets, your desires, your insecurities. You can’t quite lean that far into vulnerability with family because, well, sometimes they can’t handle it. They love you, but they aren’t suited to know everything about your private life.
Family exists in this ever-difficult in-between world where there must be boundaries and closeness. That’s why dealing with a family who doesn’t respect your boundaries can be so difficult. You can feel bad doing something about it. We spoke with licensed psychologist Dr. Jessica Jackson (IG: dr_jlauren) about how to deal with a family that has no boundaries.
Intentions vs execution
“Setting boundaries is a skill. We don’t expect everybody to just automatically do it. If that happened, a lot of us would be less stressed than we typically are,” states Dr. Jackson. “In terms of family members, they may mean well. Generally, it’s coming from a good place,” says Dr. Jackson. But, they can’t provide an unbiased opinion in a bubble on your life choices because they know your background. They have a personal investment in you. They know your whole backstory and speak to that – even if you don’t need them to at that moment.