Setting boundaries with your child when they are abusing drugs and alcohol

Boundaries create clear lines between you and the world. 

People often have fears about how others will feel about their boundaries and worry they will cause distance, but properly set boundaries lead to closer relationships. 

People with naturally strong boundaries can be compassionate because they don’t feel taken advantage of. 

If you feel taken advantage of, it is because you are not setting boundaries, doing things you don’t want to do, then getting mad at someone else because you chose to do something you didn’t want to do. 

This leads to resentment and distance.  

Another reason people avoid setting boundaries is because they are misunderstood and misused. 

When they are used to control others behaviors, as ultimatums, punishment, or manipulation they are being used improperly and create distance in the relationship. 

Boundaries should be set with love and respect. 

The boundary must be clear and direct.

Anything less is confusing. 

Your reaction to the boundary violation must be clear, and you must follow through on it. 

Proper way to set a boundary:

The Request – If you do this ____________

The Consequence- Then I will do this ____________

Example of a request with your teen – If you keep coming home past your curfew

Example of a consequence with your teen – I will take away your car for one week

Your teen comes home past curfew again. 

You follow through by calmly taking the car keys and communicating that your teen can not use the car for one week. 

Your teen gets upset but you don’t have to engage or try to control their reaction. 

No one has to yell, call names, lecture, or get angry. 

Proper boundaries also allow choice. 

Your teen gets to choose their behavior. 

They can follow the boundary or they violate the boundary and deal with the consequence. 

There is no control of the other person, just control of you and your reaction to the boundary violation. 

You can hold boundaries with love if you work through your fears and discomfort about it ahead of time. 

Ask yourself these four questions and be honest with yourself:

  1. Is a boundary appropriate in this situation or should I consider compromise?
  2. What is my fear of setting this boundary?
  3. What is the benefit of setting this boundary?
  4. Am I coming from a place of love and clear communication or am I trying to control, manipulate, or punish?

If you are still struggling, think about instances where clear boundaries make life easier and you appreciate them. 

Imagine if at work you really didn’t know what your boss expected of you. 

If it was unclear you would be confused. 

Knowing what is expected makes life and relationships so much easier!