setting limits and boundaries

Setting limits and boundaries can be difficult in most relationships. This is especially true if your family member is living with mental illness. Setting limits is about accepting and respecting your own feelings and taking your own personal needs seriously. You and your family have a right to be safe and comfortable in your own home. It’s worth noting that both you and your family member should understand that violence and aggressive behaviour, whether a symptom of mental illness or not, is never acceptable.

It will be easier for you and your family member if you establish basic rules for behaviour and co-operation before a situation arises. For instance, if you are concerned that your family member may drink alcohol or use drugs while socializing, establish that borrowing the family car is never an option under these circumstances.

It is important to take the time to discuss these limitations and expectations with your family member. A clear understanding (by all involved) about what members of the family need, want, or expect is important.

You should anticipate that the limits may be tested and make it absolutely clear to your family member that rules will be enforced if necessary. For example, you may decide that in the event of physical violence or property damage, you will call the police. Your family member should be aware that violence is not acceptable and that you will call the police if she becomes violent.

Some of the rules and expectations you and your family may want to discuss and decide upon include: