How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Children?


Getting into a new routine can be challenging, but as your kids get older, you will need to set more boundaries with them. This can be a difficult process because even though you do not want to push them too hard, you also want them to be respectful as they become adults. Still, strong boundaries can improve your relationship with them.

setting boundaries for children

Avoid Giving Them Money

Money is one of the most common things to come between parents and their adult children. It’s common for parents to want to be there for their kids, and giving their kids money might not impact their finances that much. However, whether you can afford to give them money, doing so can lead to resentment on your part because you may not feel like your work is being appreciated.  Giving your children money without expecting anything in return can also harm your children because they will not be as motivated to work for it. They should only rely on your funds if they have an emergency, such as unexpected medical bills. This teaches them to work hard for everything they want in life. 

One exception to this may be if your child wants to go to school or get a degree. It is uncommon for a student to be able to pay for school on their own and still graduate in four years. The rising costs of tuition have made it necessary for more college students to take out student loans and look for other sources to pay for their education. While you might not be able to afford to put them through college, you can still assist them by helping them get a student loan. Because it might be hard for your child to qualify for one on their own, you might wonder if you need to be a cosigner and help ensure the debt will be repaid to the lender.

Don’t Intervene All the Time

It is common for parents and their adult children to have disagreements, and if you see them making a poor decision, you might be tempted to jump in and tell them to avoid it. Sometimes parents get frustrated when they see their kids making mistakes, but it is important to remember that you have many more years of experience than they do, and you can often pick up on things sooner than they can. If you jump in and try to save your kids from every poor choice, they will not have an opportunity to gain the experience you have. They will learn more from making those mistakes than being told not to make them.

Create a Contract for Your Adult Child

It is very common for adult children to live at home with their parents, but when adults live near each other, it can be hard to avoid slipping into bad habits. You can encourage your child to respect your home by drawing up a contract that forces them to be a contributor to the household. Your child would pay rent, utilities, and other bills if they got an apartment on their own, and the same should be true if they are living with you. Of course, you don’t have to split things perfectly in half, but you should set things up, so they contribute to some of the expenses. You can come up with an amount that is based on their current income, such as 30 percent of it. If you do not need the entire amount for household expenses, you can set the extra aside in a savings account and give it to them when they buy a home. The goal is to teach them responsibility and encourage them to save.


Explain Your Own Responsibilities

When your kids were younger, they may have thought your entire life revolved around them, and that might have been the case at one point. But as they become older teens and young adults, you should remind them about your own responsibilities. This helps them see if they are taking advantage of you. You wouldn’t expect them to give up something they had already planned to help you with something, and they should not expect you to drop everything and help them with something at their home.

Make Hard Decisions

Being a parent means you often must balance telling your child what they want to hear and being the good person in their lives. When your child becomes more independent, you need to be able to tell them what they need to hear, not what they want you to say. You are not helping set them up for success if you don’t give them the right advice. Your place is not to justify their actions. Instead, you should be a sounding board who can give them a different perspective based on your own experiences. Of course, they may or may not take your advice, but you will have at least done your part.

Encourage Them to Explore New Things

Same as when they were younger and you would encourage your child to play team sports, you need to keep up that gentle push in the teen years and beyond. Teens do very well when they start to experiment with new styles, subcultures, and identities as they become young adults. But you will grow as a parent as well. After your child heads off to college, you can have more time on your hands, and you will be able to explore your own identity. This will help you continue to grow as a person, and it can help you improve your relationship with your child.

Be Prepared for Some Pushback

It’s best to be prepared for the reactions you may face if your child does not like the boundaries you have set for them. They might feel like the way they currently live their life is coming to an end, and if they react in anger, this is likely because they are afraid of what might come next. Having a firm, yet kind, response prepared will help you stick to the boundaries you have created. You might tell them you will be happy to discuss it with them after they have had a chance to process things more.