Be sure to read part 1 on Setting Boundaries.
Setting limits with loved ones is not always easy. Having prodigal children, dysfunctional and toxic, and unbelieving family members can test the most courageous of individuals. It is imperative if one has these types of relationships to learn and apply parameters with these individuals. It is possible to love your family and have a deep desire to help them, and at the same time feel exhausted from the repetitive attempts to please, fix, and solve their problems. Often, you will see cycles of behavior in dysfunctional families; basically they manipulate to get their desired outcome, and the enabler succumbs; then this is repeated again and again. At times, it seems impossible to meet their every need, but you do because they are your family, right?
If you see repeated patterns of unhealthy behavior with your nearest and dearest, and they look to you and not to God to intervening in their problems, it’s time to back off, and let God be God in their lives. As Christians, we may have guilt that ensues us to believe we should be at the beck and call of people’s demands. It is especially a challenge to set limits on our family members who constantly drain us because they show no sign of change. Do we really have the right to set limitations on our time, money, and resources? To constantly intervene on the crisis and demands of people we love can be emotionally draining, but we want to help. Irresponsible behavior can be enabled if we are there trying to rescue the ones we cherish.
Controllers hear the word “no” as a challenge to them. They project responsibility of their lives onto others, and use various means of control to manipulate others to carry their load. Manipulative controllers use guilt messages and talk others into doing what they want. They indirectly sway others to get their way. You may identify this trait in your loved ones.
“For each will have to bear his own load.” Galatians 5:6. Everyone should carry their own responsibility.
Jesus did not always do what everyone wanted Him to do. There were many people He did not help, and when He did help, He expected them to do their part. Jesus said no to the demands of people (Luke 5:5-16), and withdrew from the crowds who wanted Him, for alone time with the Father. Jesus confronted the invalid of 38 years at the sheep pool, to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Jesus challenged him to be motivated and take responsibility for himself. (John 5:1-14).
Give your loved ones warnings for their hurtful behavior. If this does not work, set a consequence for violating the notice. If the consequence is broken, it may be time to separate yourself from them until that person understands what the violation was. This is never done to punish or done in anger, but to protect yourself. God limits his exposure to evil and to unrepentant people. The Bible says to separate ourselves from people who act in destructive ways.