What experts say about setting boundaries with family during holiday season

‘No is a complete sentence, you don’t have to explain’

Relationships with family can be tricky around the holidays which is why experts are saying that setting boundaries is important.

We can’t choose our family members, and sometimes, those relationships can be hard to navigate especially if they’re unhealthy or cause drama.

Local 4 sat down with an expert to find out the best way to set boundaries with family members during the holiday season.

Dr. Rose Moten, a clinical psychologist, teaches her patients a three-step strategy for setting boundaries with family, friends, co-workers and bosses.

“I like to tell my patients there are three C’s to setting boundaries. You have to, first of all, communicate it to the person. You cannot expect individuals to automatically know something that they figure is not triggering for you, and not an issue for you, is an issue,” She says. “So you have to communicate. You have to be clear in your communication about what specifically is a no, no for you, and you have to be consistent with it. When you set boundaries, you want to be very consistent and reinforce them.”

It took Tenita Johnson almost a decade to learn how to figure out how to put firm boundaries in place with her family. She admits it’s not always easy.

“We have realized that over the years, as the matriarchs and the patriarchs of the family have passed on, that our family doesn’t want to do the usual traditions that we’ve done for years and years and years,” Johnson explains.

This year, Tenita is changing things up to try to avoid any family drama.

“This year, we’re actually taking a trip. For Thanksgiving we took a trip, for Christmas we took a trip, the kids will have their gifts in the luggage,” she says. “But one of the things we also do is, we turn our phones off. You know, those cell phones we have? They have a power button. I’m not talking about do not disturb or silence, we actually power it off. Which means I’m unavailable on our trips.”

Not giving in to family pressure and sticking to that set boundary can be tough, but Tenita says, “No is a complete sentence. You don’t have to explain. Just say, ‘no I’m unavailable, I can’t do that right now, I choose not to do that right now,’ you have the right to decline.”

Dr. Moten says to plan ahead and make decisions that you think will work best for you, without worrying about what others might think.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is setting boundaries with family members is disrespectful, when in fact, Dr. Moten says it’s the opposite, it’s a form of self-care.

Watch the full story in the video player above.


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