Measuring the Success of Boundaries: Avoiding Common Mistakes

Setting and maintaining boundaries is a crucial aspect of healthy relationships and personal well-being.

It’s important to understand that the effectiveness of boundaries is not solely determined by the immediate behavioral changes in others.

Two common pitfalls in measuring the success of boundaries are expecting others to change and having unrealistic expectations for the boundaries you set.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into these issues and provide insights on how to evaluate the success of your boundaries more accurately.

1. Boundaries Aren’t About Changing People

One significant misconception when it comes to boundaries is the belief that their success hinges on their child following the boundary.

Boundaries don’t control people.

They respect individuals’ free will and set limits that define what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior to you.

Your child gets to decide if they follow the boundary or deal with the consequences of not following it.

For example, let’s consider a parent who sets a boundary stating that if their child is using substances, they can’t drive the car.

If the child chooses to violate this boundary by trying to drive while they’re intoxicated, it doesn’t mean that the boundary itself failed.

The true measure of success lies in the consistency of the parent enforcing the consequences and taking the keys.

Boundaries should be viewed as a means of creating a safe and respectful environment, not as tools for coercion or control.

2. Unrealistic Expectations for Boundaries

Another common issue in evaluating the success of boundaries is the tendency to set unrealistic expectations for them.

One boundary will not cover every possible scenario, and striving to create an all-encompassing set of rules can be both exhausting and counterproductive.

Instead, it’s crucial to keep your boundaries simple and manageable.

Returning to our earlier example of the car and substance use boundary, it’s important to recognize that you can’t control every aspect of someone’s life.

If your child borrows a friend’s car to get around the restriction, the boundary you set still works because they aren’t using the car you have control over.

Here are some practical tips for measuring the success of boundaries:

A. Consistency is Key: Focus on your ability to follow through on the consequences of boundary violations. A boundary is only as effective as your commitment to enforcing it.

B. Realistic Boundaries: Keep your boundaries simple and relevant to the specific issue at hand. Attempting to control every aspect of someone’s life is neither practical nor healthy.

C. Adaptability: Recognize that circumstances change, and people may find ways to work around certain boundaries. Be open to adjusting your boundaries as necessary to address new situations effectively. Figuring out effective healthy boundaries isn’t an exact science it’s an ongoing learning process.

D. Communication: Collaborate, discuss, and review boundaries with your child to ensure everyone’s needs and expectations are considered.

The success of boundaries should not be determined by immediate changes in others but rather by your commitment to enforcing them and maintaining a respectful and safe environment.

Unrealistic expectations for boundaries can lead to frustration and a sense of failure.

By keeping your boundaries simple and adaptable, you can achieve healthier relationships, more connections, and a greater sense of personal well-being.

Remember, boundaries are about creating a framework for respectful interactions, not about controlling or changing your child.

If you want to learn more about boundaries, I have two podcast episodes for that:

EP #59 What to do BEFORE you set a Boundary

EP #11 Boundaries