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Boundaries - Chapter 4
January 7, 2010
3:34 pm
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mamacinnamon
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CHAPTER 4 - HOW BOUNDARIES ARE DEVELOPED

In this chapter we will learn to develop boundary abilities. We will try to figure out where your boundaries started crumbling or where they became set in concrete. We will try to repair these.

Boundary Development - Boundary development is an ongoing process. The most critical stage of this is in our early years, when our character is being formed. There is a saying "train a child up in the way he/she should go". Here is where many boundary conflicts begin. It is not train a child up in the way the parent wants that child to go and that is often what is done. Boundary phases develop in specific phases just as a child grows up from little children to young men/women to fathers and mothers. Here we will talk about those specific phases.

Bonding: The Foundation of Boundary Building - No matter how much you talk to yourself, read, study or practice you cannot develop or set boundaries w/o supportive relationships w/ others. Our most central need is to be connected; to have a caring, committed connection w/ another. We need others outside ourselves to bond w/, to develop trust, to go to for support. If we do not have a relationship then we have nowhere to go when conflict hits. No one to confide in, to vent to. When a person is not secure in that they are loved they are forced to choose between two bad options. First we set limits and risk losing a relationship. Second we don't set limits and remain a prisoner to the wishes of another. The first task an infant has is to bond w/ it's parents. The mom provides security, nurturing, closeness. This give the baby objective constancy. This is the internal sense of safety and belonging, even when the mother is not present. It is being rooted and established in love.

Separation and Individuation: The Construction of the Soul - As infants grow and gain a sense of internal safety and attachment a second need arises. It is the need for autonomy or independence. Separation refers to the child's need to perceive itself distinct from the mom. It is the "not-me" effect. Individuation refers to the identify the child develops while separating from the mom. It is the "me" effect. There is no "me" until there is first a "not-me". You must first determine what you are not before you can identify what you are.

Three phases are critical to developing healthy boundaries. They are hatching, practicing and rapproachement.

Hatching: Mommy and me are not the same. - The time in which babies are moving from their passive union w/ mom into an active interest in the big world is hatching. It is a time of exploration, touching, feeling, tasting new things. The child is still dependent on mom but the child is also confident enough to take risks, to see what is around him/her. This time can be really hard on a mom; specially one that never "hatched" herself when she was an infant. This is a necessary boundary for baby even tho mom may not like it.

Practicing: I can do anything. - The difference between hatching and practicing is huge. The hatching child is overwhelmed by his new world but still very dependent on mom. The practicing child is trying to leave mom behind. They feel exhilaration and energy; they want to try everything. When folks get stuck in the practicing stage they don't grow up. They have no impulse control; no boundaries. Practicers feel they will never get caught but life does catch up w/ them. In the practicing phase children learn that aggressiveness and taking initiative are good. Parents who consistently set realistic boundaries without spoiling their enthusiasm help their children thru this stage. The practicing phase provides the child w/ energy and drive to make the final steps to becoming an individual but doesn't last forever. The practicing child must give way to the next step which is rapproachement.

Rapproachement: I can't do everything. - Rapproachement is a restoration of harmonious relationships. This means the child comes back to reality. The child realizes the world is a scary place and realizes it still needs it's mom. He/She returns to the connection w/ mom but this time it is different. This time the child brings a more separateness into the relationship. There are now two people w/ differing thoughts and feelings. This is a difficult time for both the child and the parent. They have conflict. Some of the tools children use to build boundaries at this time are:

Anger. Anger is a friend. It tells you there is a problem that needs to be addressed. The ability to use anger to distinguish between self and others is a boundary. Children who can appropriately express anger are children who will understand later in life when someone is trying to manipulate or control or hurt them.

Ownership. This is sometimes misunderstood as being a selfish stage. Many parents try to teach a child to share their toys rather than let them own their own toys and make the decision to share or not. Many parents look at this child as being selfish. When parents do this it takes the child's boundary away and teaches the child they cannot say no or that they must give in to others wants. Without a sense of "mine" we have no sense of responsibility to develop, nurture or protect our resources. Children need to know that "mine", "my", "me" are not bad words. With correct parenting children learn sacrifice and develop a loving, giving heart, but not until they have a personality that has been loved enough to be able to give love away.

NO: The one word boundary. - Children going thru the rapproachement phase often use the word NO. It is one of the most important words in the human language. It is the first verbal boundary a child learns. The word NO helps children separate from the things they don't like. It gives them the power to make choices. It protects them. Learning to deal w/ a child's no is crucial to their development. Often children at this age become NO addicts. It is worth the NO phase to keep them from feeling completely helpless or powerless. Parents have two tasks associated w/ NO. First they need to help their children feel safe enough to say no. This helps them in learning to set boundaries. Parents should not withdraw from a child that says no; they should stay connected. By doing this the parents teach the child that no is a word that will protect them in the future. The second task is helping children to respect others' boundaries. They not only need to be able to give a no but to take a no. This means parents do not give into temper tantrums at the toy shop. It means time-outs, appropriate confrontations, discipline. By age three a child should be able to emotionally attach to others without giving up him/herself, the ability to say no without feeling loss of love, and the ability to take appropriate nos from others without emotionally withdrawing. If you don't have boundary development in the early years you wind up as an adult w/ no boundary development.

Two additional periods during life focus on boundaries: adolescents and young adulthood. Adolescent years are a reenactment of younger years. They involve more mature issues, sexuality, gender identification, competition, and adult identity. Young adulthood is when they leave home or college and start a career or get married. Young adults suffer loss of structure during this time. This often becomes a more intense time of learning more about setting good boundaries. The earlier a child learns good boundary the less turmoil they will experience later in life. Boundary problems during the phases of childhood can create devastating adulthoods.

I am going to stop here. This is halfway thru the chapter. I want to take the time to reflect here because our next section is on boundary injuries and what goes wrong. I'll try to get the second part posted in the next day or so. Thanks for your patience.

January 8, 2010
2:16 pm
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It No Longer Matters
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All I can say is WOW!!!! Boundaries are set so early in our personality development. I never really had a chance. I NEVER had boundaries with my mother. I also never had that cuddley close relationship with her as a small child. Family lore is that my mother was terrified of babies. She never bathed me as a baby. A nurse friend or the lady from across the street did it. My mother always wanted me to tell her what was going on at school and then she would get on the phone with the other parents and really stir the shit up. Then the kids would come to school and be mad at me, but if I didn't tell my mother she was injured and dejected. On top of that I went to Christian school where if you were good God loved you but if you were bad you were sinful and God hated you.

I have to think some more. I just read the chapter and had to come her and post these thoughts really fast.

Bitsy

January 8, 2010
8:12 pm
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truthBtold
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I think that these book chats are wonderful.

For me though, I wanted to participate only, I think that I have been stuck in chapter 1.

For me personally, too much ground to cover in just a weeks time.

Little too intense.

I could probably spend a month alone on just one chapter.....but that's just me.......would not want to hold anyone else up because of my own, internal process........

tBt

January 8, 2010
10:20 pm
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I am fine with takingm ore time.

Bitsy

January 9, 2010
10:53 am
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darkeyes
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mama c thank you so much!!!! il go along with all...i think learning about boundaries will take time and practice..i keep coming back each day to read from boundary one to 4..

January 9, 2010
4:12 pm
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Geez, Bitsy -

We sure do have alot in common. I had ZERO bonding with my mother as an infant. Back in the fifties, mother & newborn remained in the hospital together for ten days before being discharged and sent home. During the entire first ten days of my life, my mother REFUSED to look at me, feed me, hold me or even name me.

The nurses kept trying to bring me to her and she kept turning her head away. She only named me because they wouldn't let her go home, until there was a name on my birth certificate. I was then placed with a family on a farm that cared for me for about six weeks. Afterward, I was transferred with my older sister to foster care. We remained there, off & on, for the next six years.

So much for maternal bonding. Onced reunited with her (lucky me), I quickly learned NEVER to oppose her, NEVER to express my feelings, NEVER to show any feelings or I would be punished, shamed and abused. I had to be the perfect child: straight A's in school...physically attractive...doing all my own laundry & cleaning & ironing...preparing my own meals, after I turned about 11 or so.

There was no emotional support, no hugging, no affection...NOTHING. I was told I was a burden and a spoiled monster. Naturally, I believed it. And I grew up without any safeguarding boundaries.

No wonder I was a mess, longer before reaching "young adulthood." The early foundation simply never got laid.

Thanks for inviting me to read this thread. It is really an eye-opener. Been quite awhile since I read the book, so this is doing me good to review it with all of you.

- Ma Strong

January 9, 2010
4:46 pm
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Thank you Ma for joining us...

Bitsy

January 11, 2010
2:41 pm
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StronginHim77
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I may bow out. Liberation Brew sides is not a place where I feel either safe OR comfortable posting.

Supports is much more of a peaceful, reasonably communicative site.

- Ma

January 13, 2010
12:55 am
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Hepburn
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First Ma, that's terrible the way your mother treated you. But I have to ask; who told you that your mother turned her head away and didn't want to name you when you were born? Talk about "killing the messenger"....No one protected you.

This is a weird chapter for me because I had a pretty good childhood (from birth until 8 or 9). What sticks out for me is the relationship with my parents was pretty unemotional and neglectful. My mother was too busy having a nervous breakdown when I was 8. She stayed in bed for about a month. After that she lived on the living room couch for about what seemed 10 years or so. All through my teen years she was on psych meds (which is why I have an aversion to them). I cleaned up her suicide attempt when I was 22. But by that time I had already carved out my own way of dealing with her and my unemotional father. Really just became numb with all her nonsense.

I survived by living at other peoples houses. I was fortunate enough to have close childhood friends. Even though their families were pretty messed up too, I always felt welcome. My friends and I stuck close together. Basically we were a gang, without the "gang" mentality of what we have come to know of as a "gang".

Having written all that I can see why I didn't have boundaries. And because of my relationship with my father, I understand why I pick the men I do.

January 14, 2010
1:24 am
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mamacinnamon
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Ma, would love to have you stay and keep joining in. I appreciate your input.

January 14, 2010
8:58 am
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MsGuided
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Hep. I never really knew the details of your upbringing. Sounds similar to mine except my Mom was a very active N.

My father is VERY unemotional. Holds his anger inside and uses Passive aggression.

I also spent most of time, if not on my own, at other friends houses starting at about 8. It became moreso in my teens. I was barely home cept to sleep.

This chapter interests me because my parents really backed off from me when i was around 8. Due to work and because i was beginning to settle into my own identity.

I can give my parents this. In the infant years i did get enough nurturance to establish some bounderies. I had no problem saying "no" to protect myself.

I think most of the damage began when i was reaching school. When the interactions of all of us ( 5 kids) and my parents inability to be fair, and put the work in for us all, had a domino effect. Things just got worse on an emotional level as i got older.

January 17, 2010
6:01 pm
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CHAPTER 4, PART 2

BOUNDARY INJURIES

Withdrawal from Boundaries:

Developing children need to know their boundaries will be honored. It is crucial their disagreements, their practicing, their experimentations not result in withdrawal of love. Parental lines are crucial. Children need to know they cannot be crossed. Parents need to stay attached and connected even when they disagree. This doesn't mean parents should not get angry. It means parents should not withdraw. When parents pull away in hurt, disappointment, or passive rage they are essentially saying to the child that they are not loveable when they misbehave. The child gets the message that when I'm good I am loved but when I am bad I am cut off. Parents that pull away from their child are committing emotional and spiritual blackmail. Children's parents who withdraw when they start setting limits learn to accentuate and develop their loving and compliant parts. At the same time they learn distrust and fear. They learn to hate their aggressive, truth telling, and separate parts. If someone they love pulls away they become angry, cantankerous, or experimental. They learn to hide these parts of themselves. Parents that tell their children “it hurts us when you are angry” make their children responsible for their emotional health. It is better to tell the child “I know you are angry but you still cannot have the toy”. When children feel their parents withdrawing they believe they are responsible for the parents' feelings. A parent's withdrawal can be subtle in the form of tone of voice, long silences for no reason, crying spells, illness, yelling. Children with parents like this grow up not able to set boundaries for fear it will cause isolation and abandonment.

Hostility Against Boundaries:

This one is easier to spot. It is the parent's hostility against boundaries. The parent becomes angry at the child trying to separate from the boundaries. This hostility comes out in the form of angry words, physical punishment, or inappropriate consequences. It's ok when a parent says “you'll do what I say” but when they add “and you'll like doing it” is inappropriate. This makes a child crazy because it denies their separateness. It makes the child a “people pleaser”. Sometimes parents criticize their children's boundaries w/ comments like: “if you disagree w/ me I'll...”; you'll do it my way or else”; don't question your mother (or father)”; “you need an attitude adjustment”; you've got no reason to feel bad”. Children need to be under the control and authority of their parent, but when parents punish the child for growing independent it will cause the child to retreat in hurt and resentment.

The “my way or else” approach teaches children to pretend to be obedient. The “you have a choice” approach teaches children to be responsible. Instead of saying “make your bed or you'll be grounded for a month” say “you have a choice. you can make your bed and I'll let you play Nintendo, or you can not make your bed and you'll lose your Nintendo privileges for the day”. This way the child decides how much pain he is willing to endure. When parents greet their children's disobedience, or disagreement they deny the child the benefit of being trained. Of knowing that delaying gratification and being responsible have benefits. It is difficult to see this hostility because children hide it under a compliant smile. When they grow up they suffer depression, anxiety and relationship conflicts. Hostility can create problem in both saying and hearing NO. Some children become pliably enmeshed w/ others and some react outwardly and become controlling just like their parents.

Overcontrol:

This happens when parents try to protect their children from making mistakes by having too strict rules. While a major responsibility of good parents is to control and protect they must also let their children have the room to make mistakes. Overcontrolled children are subject to dependency, enmeshment conflicts, and difficulty in setting and keeping boundaries. They also have problems w/ taking risks or of being creative.

Lack of Limits:

Lack of parental boundaries is the opposite of hostility. They overindulge, pick up after, cover for the things the child does. Sometimes a lack of parental limits, coupled w/ a lack of connection, can produce an aggressively controlling person. You have seen the parent in the store and the child is having a tantrum because he wants a candy bar. The parent finally gives in from frustration and lack of control. Now imagine the child as an adult. The scenario has changed but the script is the same. When someone crosses him or sets limit the tantrum erupts. Because of this the world caters to him. Recovery for the adult like this sometimes takes hospitalization, divorce, jail time or disease. We always reap what we sew. These people w/ lack of boundaries are just as injured by the lack of boundaries as those who had too rigid of boundaries.

Inconsistent Limits:

Sometimes parents combine strict and lax limits. This sends conflicting messages to the child. The child does not know what the rules of the family or of life are. Alcoholic families often exhibit inconsistent boundaries. A parent may be loving and kind one day and then harsh the next. Alcoholism causes massive confusion in children. Adult children of alcoholics never feel safe in a relationship. They are always waiting for the other person to let them down or attack them. They keep their guard up. Setting boundaries for adult children of alcoholics is traumatic. It could bring respect, but it could bring rage.

Trauma:

Specific traumas can injure boundary development. A trauma is an intensely painful emotional experience rather than a character problem. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are all traumas. Other traumatic events can be an accident, debilitating illness, death of a parent, divorce, extreme financial hardship. A trauma can affect boundary development because it shakes up two necessary foundations to children's growth. 1. The world is reasonably safe, and 2. They have control over their lives. Children that undergo trauma are unsure they are safe and protected in the world, and they become frightened they have no say in any danger that approaches them.

Our Own Character Traits:

We contribute to our own boundary issues by our own individual character styles. Some people w/ a constitutionally greater amount of aggression deal w/ boundary problems more confrontationally. People w/ less aggression shy away from boundaries.

January 17, 2010
6:04 pm
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mamacinnamon
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First, my apologies for being late at posting part 2 of chapter 4. I have started college and it is much harder than I anticipated. I will try to do better about posting weekly tho.

Second, I need some input here. The next chapter is regarding the Ten Laws of Boundaries. I need to ask if you want all ten posted at once or would you like to divide the chapter into 2 sections as we did this one w/ the first 5 laws the first week and the second 5 the second week. The chapter is a total of 20 pages so there will be a lot of posting and information to take in.

Please give me your opinions.

January 18, 2010
12:32 pm
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Hi MamaC,

First, I don't think an apology is necessary. There is SO MUCH info, that I think you've gone above and beyond what is necessary for what a "book club" is supposed to be about. Shouldn't people have the book and READ it and then participate with discussion by chapter?

Just seems like if people really wanted to work on this they would at least make the effort to get the book or at least participate more on this thread. Had to put my 2 cents in. I do however appreciate all your effort. Maybe my codiness is showing itself?

Having said that, my opinion would be to do the first 5 laws.

XO,

Hep

January 18, 2010
1:16 pm
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MsGuided
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MamaC I appreciate this thread and accept whichever method you decide to post the Chapters. If you need to split up a few longer chapters into a few posts that's fine by me. It is your valuable time afterall.

I am reading along and learning quite a few things however i can't afford to buy the book right now.

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