In a world of Tik Tok and Instagram teens are more distracted and occupied with all sorts of
Social Media and access to the what technology has to offer. This in turn, making parenting an
even greater challenge. The teen years are a significant period of growth and identity
development. Setting boundaries is an essential function to help them develop their own beliefs,
values and a sense of self. Teens need boundaries to help them develop self-respect,
confidence, judgment, responsibility and appropriate decision-making skills. According to
Psychologist E. Erickson’s stages of development, adolescence/teens need to develop a sense
of self and personal identity. When they succeed, it leads to an ability to stay true to themselves
while failure leads to role confusion and weak sense of self. They need to learn to cope with
social and academic demands. When they succeed, it leads to competence while failure leads
to inferiority. Rules help and keep teens headed in the right direction. Rules need to be based
on the boundaries set at home. Boundaries aren’t the rules, they are the fence posts placed
around behaviors. They are the delineation of how a family’s beliefs are to be lived out.
Boundaries define what a teen will and won’t accept and should come from what a parent
believes is right for the teen at this stage in their life.
Parents can feel empowered by a Social media support to help take on the challenge of
parenting and boundary setting as they are also equipped with tools social media has to offer.
As New York Times best-selling author, mother, podcast host, and “That Boundary Lady on
Instagram,” Melissa Urban offers her latest gift to parents in her book, The Book of Boundaries.
Melissa points out in her book that, “boundaries mark the limits of behavior that are acceptable
to you, where words or actions beyond that limit cause you harm or make you feel unsafe.
Boundaries are not used to tell your teen what they can and cannot do, as that would be
controlling. Boundaries are established to help you plan and communicate your response to
what your teen says or does.
Boundaries are the action steps to help us keep the world and our home safe, for ourselves and
our teens. When parents set boundaries they set a tone of what behaviors will and will not be
accepted in order to grow and nurture the parent child relationship. Melissa teaches step by
step language in HOW to set and keep boundaries an area that parents tend to struggle with.
Setting the boundary might come easier than following though with holding the boundary. Here’s
a brief how to guide….
Set the boundary using clear and kind language.
There are three levels of boundaries using the analogy of a traffic light.
“Green is the gentlest, kindest language. You are assuming that the person (teen) didn’t know
you had a limit and wants to be respectful and healthy in your relationship. You’ll share this
green language and see where it goes.
Yellow is okay, this person/teen is either forgetting or unwilling or reluctant to respect my
boundary, now my language needs to be a bit more direct. It’s still kind, but it’s more direct and
impactful. I may share a consequence here, like if we can’t change the tone of this discussion,
then I’ll be leaving the room for five minutes so we can take a break.
The red level boundary is if the behavior continues to escalate, this is the boundary, this is the
consequence, this is the action that I am going to take to keep myself safe and healthy, which is
I’m going to interrupt you. The way you are speaking to me right now does not feel okay to me.
I’m going to leave for an hour and when I come back we can resume. That’s your red.”
Hold the boundary.
Boundaries can be difficult but Melissa’s script format offers a conversation with ease. Parenting
is challenging enough, setting boundaries although initially can be a dread, doesn’t have to be.
Sharon Volner, LMFT #47484
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.