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Boundaries part 3

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Boundary issues stemming from family - Taken from part 2 of the book


Hello everyone - I hope you are enjoying the overview of this book and finding it helpful. Just a reminder this is the third update of the overview of the boundaries book by Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend - most of the information is taken directly from the book with a few parts paraphrased. There will just be one more update from this book and will be an overview of part 3 of the book developing healthy boundaries. I originally only planned to do a two part overview but there is so much in this book I really struggled what to leave out in the first section of the book. It also made sense then to do an overview of each section of the book.


One of the big issues in boundary creating is the boundaries within families of origin, becoming an adult mean becoming independent, emotionally financially and in life management. Parents want more for their children than they had, this means letting go and letting children make their own decisions – you only become financially responsible by learning the limitations that your finances restrain you to. If parents are constantly topping up funds you never learn to live within your finance constraints.

If a 30 something is spending lots of time at home letting the family of origin perform certain life management functions. - They hang out together, they holiday together, and one of the parents is their closest confident. They bring their washing to be done, and they eat many meals there. This may not look like a problem but adult/child relationship has never developed into an adult/adult relationship. This affects other relationships and may cause an inability to commit to relationships or career. Also, people with this boundary issue my have financial issues because they never think of the future.

Dysfunctional families are renounced for having a certain type of boundary issue called triangulation person A is angry with person B so rather than talking to person B they talk to person C who relishes being the confidant of person A. Person B then calls person C because Person A isn’t talking to them and person C becomes the confident of Person A and B and knows everything – In the meantime the conflict between A and B still isn’t resolved. Triangulation is a failure to resolve conflict and draws a third person to be used for comfort or validation. It’s a case of not owning the anger that and not sharing the issue with the person you are angry with rather hat person hearing from a third person what was said about them. It draws someone into a conflict that should be there and affects their relationship with the person that is being discussed causing opinions to be created without the person who is being spoken about being able to defend themselves.


Some people are born to take care of their parents. They did not sign up for this duty; they inherited it. They learn early in life that they are responsible for their parents, who are stuck in a pattern of childish irresponsibility. When they become adults, they struggle setting boundaries between themselves and their parents. Every time they try to separate, they feel selfish.

As you grow it is right and proper that your first responsibility is to your immediate family then to your parents/grandparents. It is good to feel grateful to our parents and repay them for what they have done but this type of need from parents generally causes two problems the first parent might not really be in need they may be irresponsible, demanding or acting like martyrs. – they need to take responsibility for their own lives (you can become exhausted responding to their demands)

Secondly when they are really in need you may not have clear boundaries to determine what you can and can’t give – you may not be able to limit your giving. This can dominate your family and can ruin marriages and hurt children. It also causes resentment. Good boundaries prevent resentment and allows the proper resources to be given that’s appropriate.


What causes these boundary issues to persist?

One reason is we have never learnt to initiate boundaries – we’ve not seen them in action and therefore not been able to create them ourselves of they have been stopped in development and been advised they are not good.

The second is there has not been a full transition into adulthood.

To change you need to become aware and recognise that there is a lack of or incorrect boundary and the results of that lack of or incorrect boundary.

Once we pass the coming of age, we are no longer children and need to put away childish things. We need to take responsibility for our own journey’s. Our own actions, decisions and we need to own our own emotions. We need to be honest with ourselves and set our own limits, standards and values. To help with this we can ask two questions. Have we really become adults in relation to our family of origin? Do any of our relationships keep us from doing the right thing in any situation? If we are noy subject to guardians and trustees as adults, we can make truly adult decisions.

Establishing boundaries with families of origin is a tough task but comes with great rewards.


Look at your own life and discover where boundary problems exist. Ask basic questions like where have you lost control of your property? Identify the areas and look for their connection to your childhood. Discover the dynamic being played out what law of boundary is being violated. Look or the need that drives the conflict. No-one acts inappropriately for no reason. There is always an unmet need that underlies it. It’s not enough to recognise the need it still needs to be met – look at how this can be done. Reach out to your support system. Open up share your findings – learn to respond and receive.


Building boundaries is difficult and takes practice – when you first start to put them in place they can’t be used in difficult situations, practice them first with people who support and respect you. Build them up – you wouldn’t walk into a gym having never been in one and start using the heaviest weights. One you’ve had a serious injury you don’t just get back into life you need physio to build the muscles back up. This is the same principle.


Avoid the harmful situations – while you build up your boundaries avoid the situations where you know they will be needed at their strongest. You can re-establish relationships once your boundaries are strong enough not to be pulled back in to harmful situations – abusing or controlling relationships. Nothing clarifies boundaries more than forgiveness – when you refuse to forgive someone, you still want something from them – it keeps you tied to that person. – Forgiveness brakes the bond that ties you, it cancels the debt they owe you. Respond don’t react, reacting gives control to the other person diminishing your boundary. When you respond you remain in control of yourself with options and choices. If you feel yourself reacting step away and regain control of yourself. This way you can be force to do or say something that violates your separateness.


The best boundaries are loving ones. They bring freedom to make choices to give and sacrifice in love not guilt or duty. Practice purposeful giving to increase your freedom. Doing good for someone when you freely choose is boundary enhancing.

Boundaries cover all our relationships and interactions from family and friends to co-workers and bosses to our digital interactions. Lack of boundaries can lead us to feel undervalued, overworked and burnt out. It can also feed addictions.


Boundaries are designed to keep the good in and let the bad out. They help us learn that missing out on somethings mean we don’t miss out on the best things. They protect our most valuable assets – relationships and help us realise that intimacy isn’t a luxury but a necessity. They help us in our communication with each other. If you are struggling to find time to spend time with the ones you love – diarise time to spend on important relationships – make it unchangeable – once in the diary nothing can change it. Be the initiator of physical meetings – going out for a meal. Meeting up sitting round the table to talk. Ensuring that mobile and other digital devices are put away.


It’s important to have internal boundaries, it protects our time, helps us to be disciplined with our actions, boundaries help with resolving addictions, and impulses freeing us from the bondage they keep us in. it helps with completing tasks within allotted time scales.

Examples of poor internal boundaries are having a resistance to structure because it cramps your style this is a lack of submitting to discipline even self-directed discipline.

Fear of success – being over concerned that others will criticise them or envy them – better to shoot themselves down first rather than loose friendships.


Lack of follow through – having an aversion to the boring “nuts and bolts” of a project. They are much more excited by the birthing of ideas then passing it over to others to execute.

Distractibility – An inability to focus having not developed competent concentration skills.

Inability to delay gratification – they want to go directly to the pleasure without working through the project /situation to experience the satisfaction of a job well done.

Inability to say no to other pressures – an inability to say no to others and are then able to complete their own project.


Words – talking in circles rather than being concise and to the point means people loose the point you are trying to make they zone out and stop listening to you. Talking in this way can be a defence stopping people getting too close, or enables someone to dominate a conversation. Words can be used to intimidate and express hostility, seduce or manipulate. With holding words can be used as a punishment to others. This can be a really difficult boundary issue to recognise and my only come to light when someone else points it out.

Sometimes we struggle more with internal boundaries than external ones. We find it difficult to say no to ourselves. This is partly due to the fact an external problem is easier to deal with than an internal one. When we change the focus of setting limits on others to ourselves it’s a major shift of responsibility. Previously we were responsible to, not for. We are responsible for ourselves. You can limit your exposure to another persons behaviour, you can walk away. But when that behaviour is yours and in your head, you have to respond to it. WE withdraw from relationship when we most need it. It’s a private problem – yet the most helpful thing we can do is talk to someone we trust. Secrecy fuels the issue but our shame and insecurity stops us sharing things we need help with to those who are closest to us causing and instant barrier in the relationship.


Whether our boundary issue is food, money, time, task completion, words sexuality, or substance abuse, we can’t solve it in a vacuum. If we could we would. But the more we isolate ourselves, the harder the struggle becomes. The truth is, willpower alone is useless against self-boundary struggles.


Developing strength and maturity is self-boundaries is not easy. Many obstacles hinder our progress. We need to surround ourselves with people with will support us in this journey.

We need to train ourselves to accept limits, to pay the consequences of our actions and delay gratification. We need to learn that out-of-control behaviour does not bring relationship. We need to look at some of our relational actions that should be part of a healthy relationship have been distorted in activities like pornography addictions. Are our actions pushing people away because we are afraid of intimacy or do they relate to unmet needs. It’s time to take ownership of our feelings and actions. WE need to embrace failure instead of trying to avoid it. Those who spend their lives trying to avoid failure are also eluding maturity. Listen to empathetic feedback from others, as we fail in our setting of boundaries on ourselves, we need others who will let us know in a caring way. Quite often we are unaware of our failures and are unaware of the damage our lack of boundaries causes in the lives of those we care about. The people who love us and we trust can provide perspective and support. If we want our boundaries to be respected then we must also respect others.


Surround yourself with people who are loving and supportive. As you hear feedback and suffer consequences, maintain close contact with your support network. Your difficulties are too much to bear alone. You need others who will be loving and supportive, but who will not rescue.


If you are finding the overview to this book then please purchase it so you can gain the full benefit from it. The book is written by 2 Christians and has a lot of it's information connected to the bible, if you do not wish to read a book with biblical references there are similar books Set boundaries and find peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab - I have skimmed this book and it has similar information in it. the other book is Boundaries - Where you end and I begin by Anne Katherine - I haven't read this book yet.


I hope you have a good week and I'll update the last part of this overview in the next couple of weeks before moving on to other topics


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Boundaries part 2

Hi Everyone - I'm going to start with an apology for this update being so long after my original part 1. I took a temporary job that took a lot more energy than I expected and left me none for writing

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