4 Ways Setting Boundaries Can Help at Home
We all want to lead that perfect family life — no conflicts, plenty of communication, and well-defined personal space. Unfortunately, this is not always the universal configuration we find ourselves in. Living as a family unit can be a challenge in and of itself, but add a senior loved one to the mix — someone who may need significant care and attention — and things may become more complex. Don’t get me wrong, multigenerational households do have their benefits whether it’s through more adult supervision, lesser financial burdens, or just a greater sense of family. What’s important is learning how to keep everyone happy, respected, and cooperative — and that comes in large part by setting boundaries.
It’s an odd thing when we can grow more connected by establishing privacy and limits on our personal space, but that’s setting boundaries for you!
Finding Senior-Family Solutions
Finding the best solutions to living with a senior loved one requires a lot of planning and adaption to the situation. To start, it’s important to name your conditions across the multiple levels of interpersonal communication and spatial awareness necessary to maintain a healthy home environment. You can’t always learn what people prefer by guesswork or observation, so sometimes it just takes a good old family meeting to work out the kinks!
1. Name your limits
Setting boundaries relies on knowing where one person’s preferences end and another’s begin. Whether on an emotional, social, or physical level, you’ll want to make it clear that designated spaces or topics are off limits, or at very least avoided. Really, this could mean setting up spaces in the refrigerator for everyone’s respective food items, having adequate sleeping quarters and areas for privacy, or even just knowing what things might cause conflicts in order to navigate around them. Whatever the variable, it’s important to make these things clear and begin establishing these boundaries verbally with mutual understanding.
2. Be aware of your feelings
Sometimes living in a large household can become hectic, frustrating, or even confusing. At times it may seem like there is an overarching sense of dysfunction without any single, obvious cause. A good place to start is within your own self, taking the time to address what it is you’ve been experiencing specifically from the situation and coming to an objective conclusion. Sure, human emotion and social cues are often vague and easily misread, yet each person in the household is a contributor to an other’s state of being. Reverse engineering your own emotions about the situation is one way to trace your way to empathy — and ideally — an understanding of why conflicts may be arising in the first place.
3. Know when to Engage / Disengage
Once you’ve spent the time setting boundaries, respecting these specific preferences is what makes the entire process worth the trouble. Since it’s not guaranteed that everyone will perfectly uphold your preferences, giving yourself permission to enforce your boundaries is important but can be delicate. People may still carry on with their habits despite new rules, so showing restraint when reminding others of your boundaries is a safe approach. You won’t want to be permissible of actions violating your privacy or preferences, it’s just that most people respond better to constructive feedback rather than aggressive reminders. Inversely, failure to respond to gentle reiterations may call for a more stern approach given the situation. Successful social mediation is rarely achieved through amplifying hostile emotions.
4. Valuing Compromise
Inevitably, each family member’s preferences will have overlapping aspects, which can lead to conflicts. It’s not that everyone shouldn’t stick up for what makes them comfortable, but rather it’s about finding a way to create as many comfortable situations as possible within a current familial configuration. Here, compromise is the key to keeping things running smoothly. Maybe that means organizing schedules for time spent on certain activities, or even holding discussions on ways conflicts have arisen and their possible solutions. There are many ways people can disagree, but for each opposing viewpoint exists a logical compromise found by examining the desires of both sides. Verbalizing a disagreement can quickly erupt in defensiveness and selective listening, so perhaps try writing down an issue in order to develop your concerns before attempting to resolve them.
No matter how difficult it can seem to find an ideal household environment for people of all ages, it is not impossible once you realize that cooperation is inherently better than conflict. On a very basic level, setting boundaries is a way to establish the best fit for multiple people, and really it’s about helping each other lead happier lives under the same roof. Yes, life can become muddled by disjointed interactions and emotional difficulties, although there comes a time when what’s required is a taking a step back and starting from the beginning to reach a legitimately positive result.