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Make boundaries your superpower

19 Apr 2023

Do you have a creeping sense of dread about being peppered with baby questions this Christmas?

We hear you.

The secret to coping is to protect yourself by managing the conversation from the outset. Read on for our suggestions.

How To Draw Healthy Boundaries

Drawing boundaries always feels uncomfortable. With your nearest and dearest, it’s even harder. The thing is, if you’re fed up with being hounded by relatives, it’s your only choice. Other than staying away altogether of course. (Winter sun, anyone?)

So as our gift to you this December, we’re sharing a few ready-made openers.

Think “kind but firm”, and have one of these at the tip of your tongue soon after you step through the door:

  • “I know you probably want to ask me about baby plans. I understand where you’re coming from but sadly I’m just not there yet. Please respect my wish not to talk about it any further.”
  • “I’m aware that some people my age have kids already. I’ve thought carefully about it and I have my reasons for taking my time. I can share them with you if you’re interested, but I’m afraid it’s not open to debate.”
  • “I would appreciate it if we can leave the topic of me having kids off the table, so we can enjoy these few days together without any drama.”

Planning Ahead With A Partner? Set Joint Boundaries

Imagine you’re at the dinner table. Out of the blue, your partner tells everyone that you’ve both been thinking about upsizing to a place with a room for a nursery…

If your palms are sweating right now, this is a sign that you need to have a chat to align on the information you do or don’t want to share with relatives.

It can also drive you nuts if your partner is trying too hard to be supportive. Maybe all you need from them is unconditional love and support and a cuddle, and they need you to tell them that.

If a sheep jumps the fence: say it again!

Someone will probably violate your boundaries after you’ve set them. That’s just the way it goes. What should you do in that situation?

Easy. You just repeat what you said before. And if it happens again, you repeat yourself again. And so on.

Known as the “stuck record”, this is a technique from Manuel J. Smith’s book When I Say No I Feel Guilty (a treasure trove on drawing boundaries).

Have someone you *can* talk with

It’s perfectly fine to keep quiet about this stuff. Just take care not to become too isolated. Think about who you could turn to, whether a friend in the same boat or an online support group.

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