Boundaries are one of the most important things you can model and teach your daughter. Boundaries are vital to healthy relationships and essential to a peaceful life. Setting and maintaining boundaries is a skill, one that we don’t necessarily learn. I certainly did not.
In fact, if your boundaries were not respected as a child, it can be a challenging concept to grasp. I have found that many women, regardless of circumstance, have a tendency to take on the caregiver role in all aspects of their lives. They put the needs of others first and as a result, their personal needs suffer. The good news is, you can work on boundary building and teach your daughter to do the same.
What does having strong boundaries mean?
It means having a clear internal compass of what is personally ok to you and what is not. That empowers you to have the courage to speak up and let others know. In other words, it’s knowing and understanding what your limits are and sticking to them. As an adult, it can be as simple as committing to no work after 6 PM and not straying from that. For your daughter, it can be refusing to engage in an argument via text. Of course, both situations are interchangeable at any age but you get the idea.
We teach others how to treat us
It sounds impossible but it’s true. Of course, you cannot control other people’s behavior but you always have the power to choose what you decide to accept. I have learned a lot of things later in life, due to a lack of adult role models in my childhood (which is one of the biggest reasons Lessons For My Daughters was born). It took me some time to realize that there would be things I both like and dislike about everyone I know, and that is ok but having the awareness that the power of what I do and do not accept always lies with me.
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Essential for self-care
Boundary setting is a top-priority for self-care. It is a skill that you must practice for yourself and teach your daughter to do the same. Life will always feel draining if you don’t fill your cup first. Making your needs a priority does not always come natural, but when you do – it is very empowering. It’s all about learning to be your own advocate, your own superhero, and having the courage to speak your truth. Always reminding ourselves (and our girls) that we are capable of meeting our own needs first and foremost. This is so essential in choosing healthy relationships. If I know what I deserve and give that to myself, I will look for others who can do the same and add to my life – not take away.
One thing I love to do for me is to disconnect from technology on the daily. This allows me to be more present and less distracted. I make all my calls in the morning because I do not like to be on the phone when I am home with my family. This doesn’t always work for all of my friends – because not everyone is a morning person but when a relationship is of value you find ways around that.
Some may not like it
People are not used to others setting limits, especially if they don’t have healthy boundaries themselves. The most important thing to remember is, when you honor yourself those that respect your needs will be the ones that will hang around. It is also possible that someone resisting a boundary you are setting is someone who benefitted from your lack of setting limits in the past. This is sad but true. It can be especially challenging when boundary setting involves family members or those you interact with more frequently. It is important to know that sharing your needs does not have to cause friction or confrontation on your part but it may come with some resistance. But doing something like asking a family member to refrain from offering unsolicited advice is very freeing and can alleviate the anxiety that arises as family gatherings approach. For your daughter, this may look like telling a friend she’s not interested in engaging in gossip.
Give yourself permission. Don’t feel guilty about doing what is right for you, and don’t allow your daughter to feel guilty when she is learning to do what feels good to her – even if the person she is setting boundaries with is YOU. Boundaries are a healthy sign of self-respect, so give your daughter and yourself permission to create boundaries and work to preserve them.
Know where you stand – this may take practice if it is something you are not accustomed to doing. Turn inward and focus on how you feel. Get clear and honor that. Ask yourself, what is important for your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being. This would be a wonderful activity to try with your daughter. Does something you are engaging in feel uncomfortable or make you resentful? That would be a clear-cut sign that a boundary you may not even be aware of is being violated.
Healthy boundaries are so important. It is important for us as mothers and so essential for our daughters navigating the challenges of teenhood. Setting boundaries will allow them to choose the right internship, college, job opportunity, partner and the list goes on and on.
Now over to you: What does raising girls with strong boundaries mean to you? Are you doing your best to embrace the boundaries of your teen girls?