How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Family, Friends, and Professionals as a Mom Raising Kids with DisabilitiesApr 21, 2023
As a mom raising kids with a disability, it's common to get to a point where family, friends, and professionals are too involved in your life. Maybe you feel overwhelmed because a family member is questioning your parenting decisions or a friend is offering unsolicited advice. Or maybe a professional is overstepping their boundaries and not respecting your choices.
Boundaries are the guidelines we set with others about our expectations, availability, and energy. Because they communicate how we feel, boundaries prevent us from feeling stressed, overcommitted, or resentful.
If you feel disrespected or exhausted by family, friends, or professionals, use these tips to learn how to set healthy boundaries. You can set boundaries where they can feel comfortable to share ideas, thoughts, and feelings while still respecting your needs.
It's essential to set healthy boundaries with family, friends, and professionals. While it can be challenging, establishing clear guidelines can help prevent burnout and ensure that everyone involved in your child's care is on the same page.
Types of boundaries to consider:
- Physical Boundaries: When setting up your personal boundaries, it is important to consider how much physical space and time you need for rest or self-care. What are your boundaries around personal space? Maybe you need a certain amount of physical time to rest or recharge, especially after a long day of taking care of your kids with a disability.
- Time boundaries: Identify the amount of time you have to spend with family, friends, and professionals. Having time boundaries can help you avoid overcommitting and ensure that you bring positive energy to the events you attend. How much time do you have to spend with your family, friends, or professionals? Do you have other commitments such as therapy appointments or medical treatments?
- Emotional boundaries: Establishing emotional boundaries can help you maintain your peace of mind and protect you from unnecessary stress, as it will discourage people from frequently venting their frustrations to you or questioning the validity of your emotions. Do you have a family member who questions your parenting decisions? Or maybe you want to set an emotional boundary with a professional who seems dismissive of your concerns.
- Intellectual boundaries: Establish intellectual boundaries around sensitive topics such as politics or religion, and discussion of your child's disability. You can set intellectual boundaries such as discussing your child's disability or sharing outdated research. Intellectual boundaries can prevent tension during meetings or appointments.
Tips for setting healthy boundaries:
- Be empathetic: Consider that others may interpret your new boundaries as being pushed away. Describe boundaries as a way to learn more about you and your child's needs. Check in with their emotions and invite them to learn about setting boundaries along with you.
- Be clear about your needs: Communicate your needs clearly and focus on yourself. Use "I" statements to help others feel comfortable and less defensive. Healthy boundaries are set by knowing your needs. Practice journaling as a way to explore what you need from different situations. Do you need to prioritize your child's care? What makes you feel uncomfortable or frustrated? What is important for your child's development and happiness? How can you make situations more enjoyable and beneficial for your child? Be clear about your needs and communicate them.
- Anticipate your triggers: Prepare for stressful situations and plan ahead for how you will handle them. If you have a friend who offers unsolicited advice, prepare what you will say and be prepared to set the boundary more than once.
- Reassure others that boundaries can strengthen your relationship and bring you closer. When you state a boundary, focus on your child's needs. This will help others understand your perspective and goals for your child.
Some Examples of Boundary Statements
“I appreciate your concern, but we've decided to try a different approach with my child's therapy.”
“I understand that you have experience working with children with disabilities, but we prefer to follow our doctor's recommendations.”
“I would love to attend the event, but my child needs rest and we need to prioritize their well-being.”
When dealing with family, friends, or professionals, it might take a few reminders for them to understand and respect your boundaries. Reassure them that healthy boundaries can deepen your connections with them and ensure that everyone involved in your child's care is on the same page. By prioritizing your needs and communicating them clearly, you can prevent burnout and build a stronger support system for your family.
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