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Episode 58

Setting boundaries
in your family
(Part 1)

December 12, 2022

[Kyle]: In today's episode we're going to discuss boundaries. This is going to be part one of a part two series, so we're excited to start the conversation on this about placing boundaries on yourself, to help free you to be the parent you want to be. 


[Kyle]: Hello, and welcome to episode 58 of The Art of Raising Humans. I’m Kyle.

[Sara]: And I’m Sara.

[Kyle]: And today we're going to discuss boundaries. This is going to be boundaries part one. We're going to need two parts for this, don't you think?

[Sara]: Yeah, boundaries are a big deal.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and we thought it'd be great because it's-- I mean, you should be listening to this in December, you know? If you're not, that's okay, but you know, we're doing this around Christmas time. I thought there's gonna be a lot of boundary issues possibly with family and you know, all the hustle and bustle--

[Sara]: It presents a lot of opportunities. Even just financial boundaries.

[Kyle]: Oh, that's good, I didn't even think of that. That's right. No, you put some boundaries on what you're going to spend and the time you're going to do-- All the things you may want to fit in or all the pressures, you know? All the Christmas parties to go to.

[Sara]: Food

[Kyle]: Food, that's right. Oh my goodness, that's a good one too, okay. Yeah, that's great. So, actually, we're going to talk about in this first part, is kind of defining boundaries and then what that looks like to put boundaries on yourself, you know? And then in part two, on how to do boundaries with your kids. Because if I’m not putting boundaries on myself, if I don't know what that is or why I’m doing it, why that's important, then how would I model it to the kids?

[Sara]: Once again this parenting thing starts with us. You know, I think a lot of times we think about them, but really is that internal work that we do to show up in our kids’ lives, to do what we want to do with them. It all has to begin with right here us.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and real quick before we dive into, I just want to remind you, Sara and I are book and speaking stuff. So, if you've got any ideas or places you want to speak. We're doing some public schools, some private schools, and some churches. You know, small gatherings, big gatherings. Hopefully have one coming up in the spring, where a few hundred families might be at that; that'd be fantastic. So, any kind of opportunities you have or would desire us to, come don't think they're too small or too big just, you know, send it to us. You can go to our website at, there we've got some fantastic resources over this holiday season. We've got two video courses that you can purchase there. Maybe as a Christmas gift, wouldn't it be great? Right?

[Kyle]: If there's families that need to learn some conflict resolution, families having some issues with their teenagers, there's some courses on that. So, I would love for you to go there and just peruse all the different resources we have available to you and we really ask you to go rate this podcast and share it with people. So, let's dive into boundaries. So, I love this definition, Sara and just wanted to start with this. I think we saw this on Twitter. I don't know even though who this person is, Prentice Hemphill. Should I know that? I don't know.

[Sara]: I don't know.

[Kyle]: So, maybe a really important person, but I loved the quote. The quote was “boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously”. What do you think of that quote?

[Sara]: I love it, I think it's a really short way to say what boundaries are. Boundaries are me loving myself, taking care of myself, loving you, taking care of you.

[Sara]: And that's a short--

[Kyle]: What I love is-- I love the emphasis. The reason why I pick it, I love the emphasis on “you” and “me”.

[Kyle]: You know, lots of times boundaries is just emphasizing “me”, you know? And me setting boundaries against you.


[Sara]: Yeah, and how you-- Yes, that's sort of this “I’m going to create boundaries for me and keep you where I need you to be to protect me” and there's definitely, you know, taking care of myself, but I don't hear as much talk about what does boundaries mean for the other person.

[Sara]: How do I create those boundaries there too and I guess today we are starting with us.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and the reason why it's important to start with us, is not only because you're modeling it, but you have to understand your own value and I think boundaries do that.

[Sara]: They do, they value yourself and then they value the other person.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, it starts with me first valuing me and then I can give equal value to you as well, you know?

[Kyle]: I know I’ve used this example before. I don't think I’ve done in the podcast, maybe I have, but there is an idea-- I read in a book one time about boundaries of-- You know, we've driven-- We like to go from Tulsa to Colorado and we'll drive through Kansas and Kansas is a really flat area and a lot of times you'll see out in a field, you'll see like a random car, you know? Just like an old rusted down car and you'll be like “who put that there?”.

[Sara]: Yeah, “how did it even get out there?”, you just “I’m gonna go for a drive across the field”.

[Kyle]: So, maybe our listeners have seen that before, but it always confuse-- Who put that car there? But anyway. So, if I just see a car in a random field, I probably think it's trash, you know? That it's got abandoned, nobody wants it, it's junk.

[Sara]: Yeah. That one that's even like, sinking into the ground.

[Kyle]: That's right, sometimes that's weird too. But then if there were some cars and they were in a fenced-in area. So, I saw-- It would, you know, it would increase-- It would change my perception of the vehicle, it would cause me to think maybe that person wants to keep it protected. So, there might be some value in that car, right? Maybe there's parts they're wanting to get off of that car and use it, you know? Maybe they're building a junkyard, I don't know, you know? Especially when you see a junkyard, even though it is a junkyard you'd think there's value there, you know? These people are--

[Sara]: Yeah, they're taking the parts and selling them, yeah.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and then-- But if you've had that same car and you put it into a nice house, put it in a garage, what would you think then?

[Sara]: Well, that they're gonna fix it up, that it must be, you know--

[Kyle]: A classic or something, yeah.

[Kyle]: A beautiful vehicle they're gonna spruce it up.

[Sara]: Yeah, it’s got some sentimental value.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and so, I just like that picture of in that exam, in that illustration, it's like you're putting more and more boundaries around the vehicle and as you put those boundaries, people begin to change their perception of the value of that vehicle, right?

[Kyle]: Okay. So, I just be thinking about that, that's one example of why it's important to have boundaries, to know your value. Because I value myself, so therefore I put boundaries on, you know? What's the difference between boundaries and compromise? You know?

[Sara]: Okay, threw that one at me. Okay, the difference between boundaries and compromise, I think a true compromise might almost come from the place where I actually do know my boundaries and your boundaries. You're wanting this and I’m wanting this and then we might say “okay, I’m gonna set this aside here to come together on this idea or this problem or something”, but it's not a just a disregard of my boundary, it actually is a “here is what I--" and then “this is okay here, we're going to come together on this”, that's a compromise for a moment or for a situation or something.

[Sara]: You know, you like this ice cream and I like this ice cream, so we'll go get the– Kind of a silly example.

[Kyle]: Well, the reason why I bring it up, I know it seems like it's out of left field, but I think a lot of people when they're setting boundaries, it seems like compromise is this thing where it's a lose-lose, you know? Where like “I’m gonna give a little bit of my boundaries, you're gonna give a little bit of yours”. So, I want to have a different conversation, because I think boundaries, just like she said in the quote, “the distance at which I can love you and me”. It's a win-win, you know? So, whenever we're valuing each other, one of us doesn't have to disregard the other person's desires or wishes, you know? So, that's the more nuanced conversation I want to have, you know? Is that lots of times compromise looks like me crossing my boundaries, you know? Me doing something I didn't want to do, just--

[Sara]: Right, like I said, like “okay, I’m gonna set this aside”.


[Kyle]: Exactly, yeah. So, boundaries are really about-- In my mind, Sara, about being the best human. You know, boundaries humanize us and humanize the other person, okay? Boundaries shouldn't be about like, compromise, [Unintelligible] I think can be about devaluing myself or dehumanizing myself. Like for instance, I want to give some examples about just boundaries and if I value myself, like let's set a boundary on how much I work. How could that help me or show my value? How much I work or don't work?

[Sara]: It will-- A person who works 80 hours is sending one message, another person says “you know, I think I’m gonna work these 40 hours. I’ve got time I want to spend with my family and I’ve got things I want to-- I want to make sure I sleep and take care of myself” and so, it's showing, you know, it's like “I don't want to shift those things because I want to keep myself healthy and whole and so to speak, well-rounded” or things like that. “I have other things in life besides work, so I have this boundary around that time”.

[Kyle]: And if somebody didn't have boundaries on that, you'd wonder if they really value themselves, you know? If they were just working as much as the boss was constantly asking in the work and that's a real problem in America, you know? Where people just work, work, work, work, because they find-- They think there's-- They value almost their work more than they do themselves, you know? They almost think they're only valuable if they are working, you know? That might be something.

[Kyle]: So, then there's also the boundaries on what I eat, right? I mean, like you just pointed that holidays are coming up. So, I put the boundaries on what I eat not so I can become more valuable, but because I do value myself.

[Sara]: And I want to just highlight too, you're talking about the boundaries we actually place on ourselves, we're not talking about the boundaries of “you can't talk to me like that”.

[Sara]: It's not even about how other people are treating you right now, it's these are the boundaries I set on myself for myself, because I value myself. So, I’m going to create a boundary about how I’m spending my time. I’m going to create boundaries about how I’m eating because I value myself. So, I’m going to create that boundary for myself to take care of this valuable person.

[Kyle]: Yes, and then I was thinking just some other examples would be getting enough sleep, getting exercise. I mean, these are examples of “I could go exercise to become more valuable” or “I’m going to exercise because I am valuable”, right? Because I want-- Like I know I tell the kids all the time when I go exercise “I’m doing this to live longer so I can be here for you, because I believe I’m an important part of your life and I think me being around is good for you”. So, I’m exercising because it feels good and yes, of course I want to be fit, but I actually-- My bigger driver is I’m putting a boundary there to say “I don't want to be a person who can't do these exciting things that I want to do”, you know? So, the boundary is “I’m going to go push myself this direction to become a healthier person for my kids”, you know? I value myself.

[Kyle]: Another example would be how I talk, you know? That's an important boundary, how much I am on the phone or other devices.

[Kyle]: Isn't that--? I mean, how does that model good be-- I mean, how is that a healthy boundary for parents to have? Like, how much they're on the phone and devices for their kids.

[Sara]: Well, they are watching you, you know? But I think that boundary for myself would be “how am I using my time?”. Once again, for work, but “how am I using my time on these devices?”. Because it's, you know, “where am I going to put that time? I’m gonna put it here? What am I getting from that? What am I giving to that social media?” Or that whatever it might be, games, anything and “where else do I want to use that time? How do I want to set up those boundaries to show value to my myself and then to others too?”

[Kyle]: Well, and I want our listeners to be thinking about this. So, what boundaries do you have on yourself? How do these boundaries form you into the parent you want to be?

[Sara]: And you went over this one real quick, but even our self-talk, our boundaries around how am I-- You know? “How am I physically treating myself? How am I-- What am I doing for my own just--?” So, mental health, well-being, self-care, you know? But that “how do I talk to my myself?”. Not that-- We'll get into how do I let other people talk to me or things like that, how do I engage other people, but “how am I treating myself?”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah. So, I wanted to share kind of a story about how a boundary that I kind of put on myself, you know, and you pointed this out, Sara, that I love sports. I really enjoy sports and athletics, I can be a pretty competitive person and I remember there's many times where-- You know, I remember early on we got married, the football team I enjoy OU lost in the national championship game and I remember I was upset about that, probably for quite some time. I was upset about that for maybe days and days and days and days and days and I remember about a week into that, I was still complaining about it, still mad at the team and you asked me “how long is this going to go on?”. Like “at what point are you gonna stop being upset about it?”, you know?

[Kyle]: And I remember that was a conversation about boundaries, you were asking me “how much more time are you going to dedicate to being upset at a team that has probably moved on? You know, these other-- The players have probably gone on and they've let it go, you know? You're still holding on to this” and I thought to myself “that's interesting”. I had never asked myself that question, I just thought I would hold on to it as long as it was there, but I didn't think I could put a boundary on it, you know? And that's led to now, where-- You know, I know sometimes I’ll be watching the soccer team I really enjoy and so, I’ll be watching that team and maybe they're not playing as well as I would like and you pointed out to me, that I didn't realize I will start yelling at the team and getting upset at the team and then the kids will start yelling at the team and then I would get mad at the kids for yelling at the team and then you would tell me like “but Kyle, you're yelling at the team”. Like “Yeah! But I don't want them to yell at the team!”, like I don't want them to do what I’m doing and I realized what I was modeling to them is I’m not putting a boundary on myself about how to spend my time watching this game or how to use this energy in a positive way.

[Kyle]: That really if I’m yelling at the team, of course they're going to be yelling at the team. So, I’ve tried to and I think I’ve done a really great job of the past year or so, of really not doing that. Like getting into it, but also tempering my competitiveness, not letting it overtake me and it doesn't mean that time--

[Sara]: Especially since they can't hear you.

[Kyle]: They can't hear me but, I’m pretty loud. So, I think they can, but tempering it because I really want the kids not to have that same relationship, to where this win or loss-- Yes, we can have big joy and we can even be upset about the loss or be--

[Sara]: Disappointed

[Kyle]: Disappointed, yes, but also like, to me the boundary is the time, “how much time am I going to let that sit there?”, right? I want to move through it quickly, where I can quickly go back to what's really important. Which is really people in my life, it's really not this game, you know? So, I’m just-- What's some boundaries in particular that you feel like you've placed on yourself or as you've grown as a parent?

[Sara]: Okay, this one is-- Okay, wait, now I gotta pull-- I wasn't prepared for this question. I think there's all sorts of boundaries, time would be my biggest one, “where am I gonna put my time?” and even with spending time on cooking or not or time on talking on the phone or on devices or I think I’m constantly aware of “okay, am I going to shift my time over here with them or is this time to shift it over here and take care of these other things?”. Because I think as a parent, you're pulled in so many different directions and to know where to shift that and how to-- You're constantly reevaluating those boundaries and thinking “where am I going to put this right now in this time in life with them?”.

[Kyle]: I’d even say, but along that line, you're typically a pretty easy-going person and you tend to go with the flow and I think some of the boundaries you place is times when you're like “no, this is important for me to do. I’m gonna do this thing”.

[Sara]: Yeah, I had thought of that one, but that's actually when I have to work hard on and I’ve and I’d be conscious of, because I will just keep saying “okay, I’ll just get to me later. I’ll just get to me later. I’ll just get to me later” and I have to stop and go “okay, I need to get to me”.

[Kyle]: Yeah. Well, and all four of us, me and the three kids know if we keep pushing hard enough, mom will eventually be like “fine, I’ll push my thing aside”. So, you putting the boundaries and going “no, this is important for me”, you know? And so, to have the kids hear that and respect that and to go “no, this is important for Mom, let's give Mom that time for her to do that thing”, you know? And so, I think that's a boundary you place. I’m sure a lot of parents can, you know, connect with that.

[Kyle]: So, I want to emphasize that boundaries aren't about stopping us from being a bad person, but they're actually allowing us to be the person we want to be, you know? So, I think-- You know, we've talked about this in the past about having a vision about the parent you want to be and I think a lot of this conversation is in line with that about, you know, “what are the boundaries I’m placing on myself to be the person I want to become?”, you know? “What kind of human do I want my kids to be? Am I being that human?”, you know? Do I want my kids yelling at a TV screen and being all upset for weeks about a loss? No, I don't want that, you know? Do I want our kids to just subjugate their needs and desires for everybody else's? No, we don't want that either, right? Do I want them demanding their needs and desires to say my way is-- You know, we don't want that either, right? So, we're constantly trying to find ways to say “what kind of human being would I like my kids to be? What kind of parent do I want to be?” and then “how do I place boundaries around that to help me become that?”.

[Sara]: Yeah, that really makes me think of how do I talk to others. I think we both have a lot of-- Not that we always keep these boundaries well, but “how do we talk to each other? How do we talk to our kids? How do we talk to, you know, someone we're upset with on the road” or something like that, but a lot of boundaries about how we speak to and about other people.

[Sara]: And we have-- And sometimes we are better at those boundaries than others, but we do have those boundaries about how am I want to show up in these relationships.

[Kyle]: Well, I love that, because I actually wrote down here-- I put as a couple sometimes we talk to each other in ways that are dehumanizing, you know? We get upset and speak to each other in ways we would not want others to speak to us, right? But then when the kids do that, we get really upset at it, you know?

[Sara]: Right, right, “don’t talk to each other like that”.

[Kyle]: Yes, yeah. Well, and it’s--

[Sara]: But then you're like “wait, I think I kind of-- I think I raised my voice or I think I had that sarcastic toe”.

[Kyle]: Yes, a lot of times. I mean, I don't know how many times-- I can almost-- Now I can at least hear myself do it, it’s like it will come out of my mouth like, I’m almost like out of body-- I can watch myself do it and I’ll think to myself as I’m doing it “man, if they talk to me that way, I would not like that”, you know? Or “if they talk to their brother or sister that way, I would not want them to do that. Yet, here I am being sarcastic” or--

[Sara]: That shame.

[Kyle]: Condescending, yeah.

[Sara]: Or a little bit of “oh, was there a little hint of shame on you? How dare you”.

[Kyle]: Yeah. It's not that-- Once again, we're talking all the time perfect, but the realization is-- The awareness that I am talking that way and I’m choosing to do that and maybe I want to put a boundary on that. Maybe I want to talk to you differently.

[Sara]: Yeah. We’re not going to hold out boundary-- We're not going to do it perfectly, it's just the awareness of it. “Okay, here's why I want that boundary to be, here's my goal and what I’m going to shoot for”. Of course, we're not, we're human, we're not going to get there all the time.

[Kyle]: Well, so I want to emphasize that we're talking about boundaries, because we're going to delve in this more in part two, is boundaries are not about controlling me. They're not about stopping me, okay? That's not what boundaries are about. So, they're not about controlling it, they're about freeing me. So, boundaries free us, it comes from a place of knowing my value and then setting boundaries for me to be the best human I can be with you, right?

[Kyle]: It isn't just to be the best you might be in isolation, it is so I can come bring my best to you, so that's why “how much I sleep? How much I work? How much I--?”. You know, all these things, but you said about time, the ways in which I talk to myself. I’m putting boundaries of not to stop me or to control me, but to free me, because I want to bring the best I am to you.

[Sara]: And I love that, that's my favorite-- Favorite idea of boundaries is it really does-- I can show up and I can be me, because I’ve created these ways to guide that and I and I love that look at it, that perspective on it, instead of “oh, I gotta control every-- All the bad, I don’t want to--”

[Kyle]: Yeah, “I gotta stop me from being bad”. Yeah, yeah, put the boundaries on so I don't do bad things, yeah.

[Sara]: But I’m actually now able to come. It's almost like when you get dressed and do your hair or whatever, because you're going to show up to this place, this way you want to show up. It's the same idea, “what am I going to do with myself so I can show up in life and in these relationships the way I want to?”.

[Kyle]: I remember-- When you say that, I’m thinking like we used to as a couple before we had kids, sometimes we'd stay up late and we'd watch things, right? We'd be watching a show, it's a two-hour show “oh, we're really tired--”

[Sara]: Remember there was this “one more episode”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, “let's keep watching--” and then we'd be exhausting and we realize with kids, we're not very good parents when we do that. So, we have put a boundary on that where we're in bed by 11 at the latest, you know? So, we've been watching one movie, it's taken us three nights to finish it, but it's like we'll go 45 minutes and just stop it. Because we're gonna go to bed, because we know in the morning we want to be at our best with each other, with ourselves and with our kids., you know? And so, that is a boundary we've placed on. It's not to control us or stop us or like “oh, I want to watch it so bad, we have to stop ourselves”. It's like “no, I want to be a better human being tomorrow morning, so getting a good sleep is--”

[Sara]: “I will feel better, tomorrow will be way better if I just stop it now and go get my sleep”.

[Kyle]: So, I want to wrap it up with this basic idea that boundaries are at the core of respect for relationships. I must first show myself respect and then give that to others. So, the question to you audience is, what boundaries do you think you would like to place on yourself? You know, just think about that. Once again, not to stop you or control you or keep you from doing bad or stupid things, but to help free you to be the dad, the husband, the wife, the parent, all that kind of stuff, that you would like to be this holiday season.

[Kyle]: So, just kind of ponder that question and I hope that gives you some thought over this this busy time or just be noticing that, because there'll be a lot of opportunities to cross boundaries, to set new healthy boundaries and I hope it just, you know, really gives you something to pursue this this December, okay?

[Kyle]: And so, yeah, we'd love once again to have you, you know, definitely be sharing this stuff with your friends and family. Because the more the podcast gets shared, the more people get helped and I really think this next-- This conversation and the next one you're going to listen to in part two, will be very, very helpful. Give you some great tools in your toolbelt on how to raise kids that have boundaries on themselves, know their value and are able to become respectful human beings who, you know, are able to value other people as well and I think the world really needs more families who understand healthy boundaries. So, I’m just really passionate about the subject and really excited about you hearing more about it. So have a great night.

[Sara]: We appreciate you.

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