Dear Enchantress, 

 Dear Enchantress, 

By By Shane Kulman

I live at home, I’m in my 20s. I have an apartment in the basement, so I have my own space. What I am writing to you about is how do I deal with my family when they are constantly fighting with each other to be right? I have been leaving the room, or going to my apartment, but they have noticed, and they make me feel wrong for leaving, and they start teasing me about it while we’re eating dinner, and I feel like they gang up on me. I love them, and I don’t want to move, but it’s really frustrating. 

Help! Thank you. 

Dear Francine Frustration,

Creating boundaries with family can be challenging, but it is important for your mental and emotional well-being and to keep the relationships healthy. Here are some steps you can take to create boundaries with your family. You might want to write them out for yourself, because it’s work for you to do with yourself and drop the expectations for your family to change. First, identify your boundaries: Before you can set boundaries, you need to be clear on what they are. Think about what behaviors or actions from your family members are unacceptable to you, and what you would like them to do instead. Again, this is just for you to write out. Second, is there ONE family member that can be your ally? That person being someone who regardless of how they act, can reason and listen to you? To that person, ask if they have time to connect with you. Make a specific time to connect with them.  It will feel better to have an ally that can help diffuse the situation, but you may have to suggest or come up with a way that your ally can help you. It might be enough that this person knows how you feel, and they don’t have to say or do anything and also make sure you ask for confidentiality with them. Third: be open to negotiation. It is possible that your family members may not agree with your boundaries at first. Be open to negotiation and compromise, but also be firm in your own needs and values.

Remember, creating boundaries with family members can be a process, and it may take time for everyone to adjust. Be patient and consistent in your approach and prioritize your own well-being. Know that they may never change, but if you wish to feel relaxed while around them, you will eventually get to accept them, and see them as “that’s the way they are.” That acceptance with family is NOT easy, but what will happen if your actions stay consistent, they will see less of you, because actions are always LOUDER than words.

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