How to Set Personal Boundaries with Young Adults

struggling young adult

Setting boundaries with young adults can feel like trying to navigate a maze, especially when attempts to control their behavior result in pushback. As parents, it’s essential to approach this challenge with a different perspective. Instead of focusing on restricting their actions, let’s delve into the art of setting personal boundaries – the non-negotiables to establish a framework for mutual respect and understanding.

When you try to set boundaries around their behavior at this stage of parenting, you will be home by two o’clock in the morning.

Attempting to dictate specific behaviors often leads to resistance and rebellion. Curfews, car restrictions, and other behavior-centric rules strain the parent-child relationship and create an atmosphere of tension. Recognizing the limitations of such approaches is the first step toward adopting a more effective strategy.

A crucial shift in perspective is viewing boundaries as personal, non-negotiable standards rather than rules imposed on their behavior. This reframe empowers parents to establish clear guidelines for themselves, creating a foundation for healthy interactions and mutual respect.


Examples of Personal Boundaries:


Communication Respect: “I sleep between 11 at night and six in the morning because I go to work every day. If you know you’re going to be out late or not coming home at all, you need to communicate that by 11.”


Financial Independence: “After January, I’m no longer paying your car insurance.”

“I’m here to support you,and I will no longer be your punching bag.”

Responsibility: “I’ll buy one tank of gas a week for your commute to community college, but I won’t provide any more than that.”

Respectful Behavior: “I won’t be awakened at four in the morning when you come home drunk. If that continues, you’ll have to find somewhere else to live.”


Setting personal boundaries begin with I statements.


Using “I statements” fosters a more collaborative and less confrontational atmosphere. It shifts the focus from blaming their behavior to expressing your own needs and expectations. This approach encourages open communication and helps avoid defensive reactions.

An important sidenote: Do not set a personal boundary that you will not keep.

Consistency is key when it comes to personal boundaries. Establishing limits that align with your values and capacities is crucial, but equally important is sticking to those boundaries. If you don’t it will undermine the effectiveness of the boundaries you’ve set. Not to mention your personal credibility.

Obviously, setting personal boundaries is going to go better if you have a decent relationship with your young adult. If the connection is strained or fragmented, it would be a good idea to address relationship dynamics before diving into boundary-setting. A healthy relationship lays the groundwork for effective communication and mutual understanding.


Summary Points:


In the complex dance of parenting young adults, setting personal boundaries emerges as a powerful tool for maintaining respect and fostering independence. By focusing on non-negotiables rather than attempting to control their specific behaviors, parents can establish a framework for healthier interactions. Remember, the key lies in maintaining consistency, using “I statements,” and recognizing the interplay between relationship dynamics and boundary-setting.

So, the next time you find yourself caught in the maze of setting boundaries, consider the power of personal, non-negotiable standards. Through open communication and a commitment to mutual respect, you can navigate this challenging terrain and build a stronger foundation for a more harmonious parent-child relationship.