I Try to Set Tough Boundaries With My Child But Often End Up Giving In. What Can I Do?

    There is no right or wrong as you travel this path of the unknown, and there is no one-size-fits-all. Setting boundaries and sticking to them is so very difficult. As parents of children using substances, we often see their pain and their hurt. When we contemplate actions that might add to their pain, it becomes so very difficult to wrap our heads around them. It might not feel right but evidence and science tell us that letting the consequences resulting from “negative” behavior be felt and heard is helpful. It may surprise you to learn that the direct, negative outcomes of your child’s actions (failed grades, missed social events, a cold dinner) — what we call “natural consequences” — are among the most powerful promoters of change.

    Of course, some consequences are too harmful to allow. Your job is to identify the negative consequences you can tolerate: you can begin with soft boundaries that you can stick with versus tougher boundaries that will be difficult to follow through with. Often, we feel that setting boundaries is a form of punishment. This could not be further from the truth. We are helping our children when we allow them to experience the negative consequences that were a direct result of their actions. If we do not let natural consequences happen, it sends a message that there is no reason for them to stop their negative behavior. There are tools and strategies to help you find the balance that works for you.

    icon

    Contact the helpline

    Personalized support for addressing your child’s substance use or addiction available in English and Spanish.

    Connect via text, email or over the phone.

    Learn More

    We use cookies to improve your experience and serve you relevant information. To learn more, read our privacy policy.
    I accept