Navigating Family Dynamics: How to Set Boundaries During the Holidays for Personal Well-being

An uno meme that says "respect each other's boundaries" or draw 25 cards, and a man representing your family holding 25 cards

Boundaries are guidelines to help us do just that, ensure our own needs are taken care of before we make space to help others. Families and boundaries do not always go hand in hand, very often families are built on systems and rules that go against individual boundaries. To make things even more complicated, sometimes those who benefit from us not having firm boundaries have a difficult time adjusting to them being set. That doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, it just may take some time to create a new normal!  Sometimes when boundaries are too rigid, it can begin to feel like we have built walls between us and the people we love. Instead, I like to envision setting boundaries as more of a garage  door with you holding the remote door opener. You get to decide when and where the door opens up, who comes inside, and how long it stays open for.

Boundary setting does not need to be harsh, it can and should be communicated tactfully and with kindness. Having these in place should actually allow us to feel more comfortable being close and connected with our loved ones. 

In the holiday environment especially, tension and expectations with family tends to run high. 

Here’s a few things to consider in setting boundaries:

Time boundaries: 

Space boundaries: 

Time & Space boundaries: 

All in all it’s helpful to remember that it’s always easier to loosen boundaries than it is to tighten them. This means it can be helpful to start out on the firm side and loosen as we go. Boundaries are meant to ultimately be permeable and you’re allowed to shift them as needed. It can be hard to find your footing at first, feel out what feels comfortable to you in each relationship and situation and give yourself grace to make changes as needed! 

If you find yourself struggling to set boundaries or feeling triggered by the boundaries of others, it might be helpful to explore that in therapy. If you’re interested in speaking more about boundaries, schedule a consultation here.

November 23, 2022
December 17, 2023
 Published by: 
Shannon Williams