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How to Start Setting Boundaries with Family

Relationships, Family, Boundaries
3 min read

What is a Boundary?

A boundary is the space; whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, between you and another person. A boundary is typically set to protect you from being harmed by others. When you do not have boundaries, you open yourself up to be harmed, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by another person.

Boundaries within a Family

Boundaries can and ought to exist within a family. Sometimes, there is a thought that there shouldn’t be any boundaries between family members. This simply isn’t true. When boundaries are set between family members, they can serve to strengthen the bond between those family members. This is because boundaries allow each member of the family to know how to treat one another; think of boundaries as an operating manual.

How to Set Boundaries

  • Take a moment to ask yourself the following question – “In an ideal world, what would my relationship with my family member(s) look like?” Take note of what comes to mind, as this will be what you use to form the boundaries that you will be setting.
  • Write down the boundaries that will help you come as close as possible to having that ideal relationship with your family member. Be realistic when writing down the boundaries as you are more likely to be able to follow through with realistic boundaries.
  • Inform your family member(s) of the new boundaries you are putting into place; don’t assume they’ll know your boundaries at first, tell them. If you’d like, you can explain the reason(s) for the new boundaries, but remember you are under no obligation to do so!
  • When necessary, reiterate and enforce your boundaries with your family member(s). Enforcement of boundaries may seem scary but doing so lets your family member(s) know that you are serious about them.


Setting boundaries can be difficult to do; especially, with a family member. It may feel as though you are going against the norm in your family to do so. Honestly, you just might be going against the norms within your family and that is okay. As you go about setting boundaries with your family member(s) remember that you are doing this for your overall well being.


About the Author: Joyce Miles Jacquote, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. Joyce owns her own private practice, Overcoming Miles Counseling, PLLC virtually serving Colorado, Texas, and Utah. In her private practice, she focuses on serving the Black and Brown Communities and the Queer communities. To learn more about her approach, and explore additional content she has authored, view her Frame profile here.