Boundaries Blog — relationships

Boundaries and The Beverly Hillbillies

Boundaries and The Beverly Hillbillies

When setting boundaries with someone, it's important to differentiate between what you prefer and what's actually wrong. Before you talk to someone about changing his behavior, figure out if what he is doing is really a "bad" thing or just something you don't like.

I (Dr. Cloud) refer to this distinction as a test I like to call "Would God and the Beverly Hillbillies Agree?" Here's what I mean: Some things are just things you don't like and want someone to change, but that person is not really doing anything wrong. Depending on where you come from, it may be acceptable or not....

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Boundaries Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Adult Child Who Refuses to Pay Back a Loan

Boundaries Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Adult Child Who Refuses to Pay Back a Loan

Question: What kinds of consequences are appropriate for a 39-year-old daughter who refuses to take responsibility for paying a college loan that her father and I co-signed in good faith?

Answer: First, let me say that I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I know that it can feel uncomfortable to be at odds with your adult child.

In this situation, your first decision is to approach your daughter in a vulnerable way and describe how her behavior is impacting you. You could say something like ...

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Why Smart People Accept Unacceptable Relationships

Why Smart People Accept Unacceptable Relationships

When I (Dr. Townsend) guide people through a process of examining previous difficult relationships, the one question I have found most helpful is this: What was the "payoff" in your choice? In other words, what good things did you think you'd get when you began a relationship with that person?

We wind up with difficult people for a reason—there was something we valued, wanted, or hoped for. And because the need was strong, we may not have paid attention to something unacceptable in that person's character....

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Surprising Ways Rewards and Praise Can Harm Others

Surprising Ways Rewards and Praise Can Harm Others

We sometimes reward (through actions) and praise (through words) our spouses, employees, children, and friends in ways that can actually harm them, even though it feels good at the time because it seems so positive. But what seems positive is not always what is best. A pizza slice or two is positive—but four can cause problems. These unwise reward/praise approaches, although well intentioned, create bad fruit. Remember—these are patterns, not isolated events. Doing these things every now and then would be all right, but when they become trends, they risk fostering attitudes of entitlement....

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The Disease of Self-Sufficiency

The Disease of Self-Sufficiency

My (Dr. Townsend) three-year-old son, Benny, is now firmly ensconced in the "I can do it!" stage of life. The other day we were getting ready to go out to dinner, and everybody was ready but Benny. He'd gotten all ready except for his pesky Velcro-strapped tennis shoes. They just wouldn't cooperate.

Being the helpful father (actually, the hurried father), I bent down to fasten his shoes for him. He quickly pushed my hands away, protesting, "I'll do it! I'll do it!" And he meant it. So we negotiated....

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