Setting Boundaries: Inside the January 2018 Issue

Setting BoundariesDon’t Be a Doormat! A Stepmom’s Guide to Setting Healthy Boundaries BY CLAUDETTE CHENEVERT

What’s worse than feeling invisible, ignored or unappreciated?

Being treated like a doormat. You do your best, as a stepmom. You give up time and money to be available for your stepkids. You listen patiently to your husband’s complaints about his ex. You grit your teeth, while said ex makes unreasonable demands on both you and your family.

Let’s all start the New Year off right, by setting boundaries that’ll stop this unhealthy pattern in its tracks. Boundaries are essential to creating healthy, lasting relationships. They instill trust and confidence in you and others, so that you all feel safe, cared for and respected.

If boundaries are unclear and inconsistent, you’ll notice that a sense of mistrust is shared between you, your stepkids, your spouse and the ex. This leads you to feel resentful, as if you’re a doormat to be walked on—with the dirt and grime of stepfamily life sticking to you like goo.

What is a boundary?

Think of a boundary as a gated fence. You are the gatekeeper. You have control over who and what you let through that gate. As the gatekeeper, it’s your job to let people know what you expect of them, when they come over to visit you, in your own personal space.

When your boundaries are unclear or nonexistent, you’re sending a message to others that it’s OK to treat you badly and unfairly. In other words, you left that gate wide open. Anyone is welcome to come on through and do as they wish. Is that the message you want to send?

Boundaries themselves are based on the values and beliefs you grew up with, which influence what you deem to be acceptable or not. They represent what it is you’re willing to tolerate without having to take any corrective action.

As you merge your values with those of your partner and his former family, there’s big chance you’ll be faced with conflicting views on how your stepfamily should function. Setting boundaries—ones in which you feel safe to share your thoughts, know you’ll be heard and can expect to feel valued—is key to not being viewed as a doormat at all.

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