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  • Writer's pictureChristina Rhyser

How to WITHHOLD Ourselves and Set Healthy Boundaries

a peaceful fence to represent healthy boundaries

Dear Christy,

My kids do not have any diagnosable conditions that I'm aware of, they're just really hard for me to deal with. I love them to bits and feel bad saying it, but this is my reality. I know all kids have their moments but the whining, crying, demanding, arguing and complaining never seems to stop with these three. I'm at my wits end with their behaviour and I do not know what to do anymore. I do everything for them and they're still ungrateful. It seems like the more I give, the more they want and it's never enough. They're not babies anymore and I think they should know better by now.

How do I teach my kids to be more grateful for what they have and how do I take care of myself too when all my energy is spent taking care of them?

Thanks for your help,



Dear Isabela,

Have you already spoken with your family health care provider to rule out any possible diagnosable conditions? If not, please go ahead and do that first, just to be sure.

Aside from that, my advice is somewhat controversial on this one. It shouldn't be really, but I do still get some pushback on this point. Either way, here it is: If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed as a parent, and your kids are old enough to talk, this advice is for you. It is perfectly ok and often beneficial to withhold our time and energy from parenting duties sometimes. (Are you still reading?)

We cannot be and do everything for everyone all the time. It's not good for us and it's not good for our kids. The goal is to raise healthy, productive, capable children who will become healthy, productive, capable adults. Yet so often, we over-involve ourselves in everyday tasks that we lose sight of the harm we may be doing to ourselves and our families.

For example:

If your four-year-old daughter whines and cries every time you put her socks on her feet (instead of thanking you for helping her to get dressed)... it's time to let her do it herself.

If your nine-year old son complains every day that you pour too much milk into his bowl of cereal (instead of thanking you for making breakfast)... it's time to let him pour his own cereal.

If your fourteen-year-old son demands that you let him sleep in Saturdays (instead of thanking you for waking him up on time for soccer practice)... it's time to let his coach bench him for a game or two after showing up late.

Does that make sense? Keep in mind that these examples of withholding ourselves from our children are done in age-appropriate ways - always remember to have grace for their struggles, and to honour their abilities.

By setting healthy boundaries to protect our own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs - while empowering our children to take ownership of their own decisions is the secret formula for personal and family wellness.

Here is a short article explaining how to set healthy boundaries. Give it a try and let me know what happens!




In the hustle and bustle of family life, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the demands and expectations placed upon us. As parents, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities, from work and household chores to caring for our children and nurturing our relationships - especially if our children require extra attention for physical, mental, emotional or behavioural needs. Setting healthy boundaries becomes essential for maintaining our well-being and preserving our sanity. By learning how to establish clear and effective boundaries, we can reduce our load in a way that our family will actually thank us for, creating a harmonious and balanced environment where everyone can thrive.

Drawing inspiration from Melissa Urban's book, "The Book of Boundaries", let's explore the art of boundary-setting and discover how it can lead to greater balance, fulfillment and harmony in our lives.

Understanding Boundaries

Boundaries are the limits that we establish to protect our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. They define the parameters of acceptable behavior and interactions within our relationships and help us maintain a sense of autonomy and self-respect. Setting boundaries is essential for maintaining healthy relationships, managing stress, and fostering self-care.

The Importance of Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is not about being selfish or controlling; it's about prioritizing our own needs and well-being so that we can show up as our best selves for our loved ones. When we fail to set boundaries, we run the risk of becoming overwhelmed, resentful, and burnt out, which ultimately affects our ability to care for ourselves and others effectively. By setting healthy boundaries, we create a framework for respectful and balanced relationships, where everyone's needs are acknowledged and honored.

How to Set a Boundary

Setting a boundary involves clearly communicating your limits and expectations to others in a respectful and assertive manner. Here are some steps to help you set boundaries effectively:

  1. Identify Your Needs: Take some time to reflect on your own needs, values, and priorities. What behaviors or interactions are acceptable to you, and which ones are not? Clarify what you need in order to feel safe, respected, and valued in your relationships.

  2. Communicate Clearly: Once you've identified your boundaries, communicate them to others in a clear and assertive manner. Use "I" statements to express your feelings and needs, and be specific about the behaviors or actions that you find unacceptable.

  3. Set Consequences: Clearly outline the consequences for violating your boundaries, and be prepared to follow through on them if necessary. Consequences should be proportional to the behavior and designed to encourage respectful and cooperative interactions.

  4. Enforce Boundaries: Consistently enforce your boundaries by standing firm in your convictions and refusing to tolerate behavior that violates your limits. Be prepared to assert yourself and protect your boundaries, even if it means facing resistance or conflict from others.

Examples of Boundaries

Boundaries can take many forms, encompassing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our lives. Here are some examples of each type of boundary:

Physical Boundaries:

  • Setting limits on how much physical contact you're comfortable with, such as hugs or handshakes.

  • Establishing guidelines for personal space and privacy within your home, such as knocking before entering someone's room.

Emotional Boundaries:

  • Expressing your feelings and needs openly and honestly, without fear of judgment or criticism.

  • Establishing boundaries around how you will respond to others' emotions, such as offering support without taking on their emotional burden.

Mental Boundaries:

  • Communicating your need for alone time or quiet space to recharge and reflect.

  • Setting limits on the amount of information or input you're willing to take in from others, such as news or social media.

Spiritual Boundaries:

  • Setting aside time for spiritual practices or rituals that nourish your soul and deepen your connection to something greater than yourself.

  • Establishing boundaries around religious or spiritual beliefs, and respecting the diversity of perspectives within your family or community.

Embracing Grace and Honor

Setting boundaries is an act of self-care and self-respect, not only for ourselves but also for our loved ones. It allows us to create a healthy and balanced environment where everyone's needs are acknowledged and honored. By setting clear and consistent boundaries, we empower ourselves to prioritize our well-being and create more fulfilling and harmonious relationships with our family and others.


In conclusion, setting healthy boundaries is essential for maintaining our well-being and preserving our sanity in the midst of life's demands and challenges. By learning how to set boundaries effectively, we can reduce our load in a way that our family will actually thank us for, creating a more balanced and harmonious environment where everyone can thrive. Remember that setting boundaries is not about being selfish or controlling; it's about prioritizing our own needs and well-being so that we can show up as our best selves for our loved ones. With clear communication, consistency, and a commitment to self-care, you can create healthier and happier relationships with your family and cultivate a greater sense of peace and fulfillment in your life.


Need some help to withhold yourself and set healthy boundaries?

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