If you don’t set boundaries, you invite disrespect.
I have so many friends, and people I work with both in my guard unit and in my civilian job who talk to me about their various relationships, (i.e. husband/wife, mother/child, in-laws and siblings) and how they feel disrespected. After asking questions about certain aspects of the conflicts I realized that many people are not effectively communicating with the individuals they are in conflict with. Before I go further I want to introduce 2 concepts and or vocabulary words to you, the first is ethnocentric. Loosely defined, ethnocentric means to evaluate people and or cultures according to your own culture’s standards. The second term I want to introduce you to is mind reading as it pertains to communication. In this sense, mind reading can be defined as assuming you know what a person is thinking and or assuming that a person should know how you feel about something or someone.
So let’s tackle this a little at a time. If someone is doing something to you that you find offensive and you do not voice this offense, then you cannot hold them accountable for it. People cannot read your mind. Now lets be completely honest here, in some instances people are wronging you and they know they are, and they don’t care. It happens, but that’s not what we are talking about here. We are talking about annoying habits that can in some instances be disrespectful. For instance, a girlfriend of mines complained that her mother in law (MIL) would come over unannounced and usually after they have put their baby down for the night. She would come in the home and wake their child, hang out for an hour or so and then leave them with trying to put the baby to sleep. She complained and complained and complained to me so much and finally I asked, “Have you ever spoken to your MIL and tell her that her unannounced visits were disrupting your household”? Unsurprisingly, she said no. She said that the way she was raised people called before they came over, and she can’t believe that this woman consistiently came to her home uninvited and unannounced. I explained to her that at this point, her MIL wasn’t in the wrong, because she was never made aware that what she was doing was wrong. Had my girlfriend spoken to her after the first unannounced visit occurred she wouldn’t be so upset. This particular friend is VERY passive aggressive and so I have no doubt that she may have attempted to drop hints but true to her nature she avoids conflicts at all costs, to include her sanity.
Her failure to set that boundary, invited the constant disrespect she felt when her MIL came to her home. It also built resentment that caused their relationship to begin to decay. I explained to her that her MIL is not a mind reader. If every time she comes over unannounced she’s allowed in your home and you welcome her, what did you expect to happen? Furthermore, while the culture of your family, and or your family values requires you to call someone before darkening their doorstep, GREAT!!!! But maybe, her family culture tells her that formalities are not required to visit. I explained that she was projecting her family values on others as if that is the norm, and or the standard that all families should follow. Her ethnocentric tendancie was causing her to harshly and unfairly judge her husband’s entire family, (she was saying to me that it’s obvious that they were raised with no consideration and or manners).
How do you set boundaries???
Well you don’t have to provide everyone with a list of rules. You can however, address issues as they come up. For example, the first time my friend’s MIL came by, she should have let her know that it was inappropriate. It does have to get ugly either. Here’s a good an example….
“Mom thank you for coming by, but I’m sorry the baby is asleep, and we are getting ready to turn in for the night. Next time give me a call, and I’ll let you know if it’s okay to come by”.
That’s not so bad! There is nothing rude with boundaries unless someone insists on crossing them, and then well………..
Anyway, this has gotten a bit long so I’m out! Comment, share, and or email me your thoughts!