The Importance of Boundaries for Good Mental Health (4)

In our last article in this series, we looked at how Marcus could have better solved his boundary problems he was experiencing with his overbearing father.

But what of Jane? What could she have done in her situation with her mother? Remember that Jane spent months verbally telling her mother firmly that she did not want her baby to have a pacifier. Jane’s mother Noreen would not give up, to the point where she secretly went off and purchased a pacifier and waited till Jane was out of the room before placing it in her granddaughter’s mouth. As we read in this previous article, a tremendous argument ensued because Jane was feeling powerless against her unrelenting mother.

The pacifier was never used after this incident but it upset Jane all those months. So how could she have handled the situation better? After one or two firm “no’s” Jane would have been in a better position if she had said to her mother: “Mom. I don’t want a pacifier for my baby. She doesn’t need one. If you mention it again, I’m going to ask you to leave my house. If I am at your house when you say it, I will immediately leave. I’m sorry it has come to this, but you are not respecting my wishes and I am not going to keep arguing with you over this issue. If you mention it again, then our visit ends at that point.”

Obviously, Noreen will not react well to this assertive statement. She may yell, argue, play the victim, cry, or do any number of activities designed to sway Jane back into line. But as all this happened after many months anyway, it’s best to stop this sort of behavior right from the start. The “victim” of this sort of behavior is going to get “the treatment” anyway, so may as well get it over with sooner rather than later. The benefit in doing this is that Jane controls the situation right from the word go and does not experience the unnecessary suffering that she did.

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