How can I avoid family members who stress me out?

My mother takes care of niece whom my sister abandoned. She calls me every day complaining, but I don't want to hear it anymore.

Jason Lynch, MS, LMHC, LCAC, ADS
Jason Lynch, MS, LMHC, LCAC, ADS
Individual & Couples Therapy

It sounds as though there is a need to establish some healthy boundaries with your mother. Simply put, a boundary is a line or space between you and another person. It is also a way of defining what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable. When working with clients, I teach them that there are 4 Rules to Setting Healthy Boundaries. First, the boundary must be clear and definable. Think of a boundary like lines on a football field. The other person needs to know when they are "in bounds" or if they have stepped "out of bounds." Second, the other person must be told about the boundary. It's not fair for me to enforce a consequence if I've never told you about the boundary. Third, there must be a consequence for violating the boundary. This is often the place where people struggle. It's important to identify a consequence that is appropriate and proportionate to the violation. Finally, the fourth (and most important) rule is "If you are not willing to follow rule #3, don't bother with any of this. The reason the fourth rule is so important is that if someone violates my boundary and I refuse to enforce the consequence, I've basically told them that my boundaries mean nothing. 

You are well within your rights to establish a boundary with your mother. You are not her therapist. Remember to communicate your boundary to her in a way that is clear and unambiguous. Also, make sure that you enforce the consequence in the event that she doesn't adhere to your boundaries. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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