Clueless about boundaries

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
startpoor
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Joined: 22 Nov 2013, 13:43

Clueless about boundaries

Post by startpoor » 28 May 2015, 16:29

Can someone recommend a thread, blog or book that has helped them with boundaries? Thanks:)


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Happiness (n.) The state of being in compliance with Mormon norms, regardless of one’s actual resulting emotional state

George, Sr.: Faith is a fact. No, faith is a facet. I almost said faith is a fact.

amateurparent
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Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by amateurparent » 28 May 2015, 18:26

Startpoor:

With an Aspie daughter, we have had many discussions about boundaries, and I do have some resources I would recommend. Please give a little more information. What sorts of boundaries are you struggling with? Cultural norms such as standing too close to people, or too much touch? Appropriate topics of conversations for different audiences? Sexual boundaries? There are just so many ways the term boundaries can be interpreted. I want to make sure I don't send you something that is a waste of your time.
I have no advance degrees in parenting. No national credentials. I am an amateur parent. I read, study, and learn all I can to be the best parent possible. Every time I think I have reached expert status with one child for one stage in their life, something changes and I am back to amateur status again. Now when I really mess up, I just apologize to my child, and explain that I am indeed an amateur .. I'm still learning how to do this right.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 May 2015, 05:52

Startpoor, if you are uncomfortable answering more detailed questions in a public thread like this, feel free to send amateurparent a Private Message.

If you are fine answering that sort of question here, we would love to give you suggestions.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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SilentDawning
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Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by SilentDawning » 29 May 2015, 06:30

I'm going to assume it's about church boundaries...since that's an oft-discussed arena for this site....if I'm wrong about this being the intended question, it may still be of value to others here...

I have a few principles.

1. Stop caring about status in the church

I found I had to to cross a threshold where I no longer cared whether I would have status in the organization. When I decided to set boundaries on the amount of time, resources, or other demands the church could make on me, I had to not care about loss of status. If you care too much about your status (being a stalwart in the ward, getting validation from leaders, getting inclusion kudos from your peers or group you fellow ship -- RS, EQ, HPG), then it becomes easier to assert yourself later. I believe you have to put your personal happiness above all the shoulds regarding "sacrifice", "never saying no to a calling" etcetera and your status in the church.

Remember, if you move into a new stake you can make an instant transformation and get all that back, provided there aren't any influential leaders who knew you in your old stake. Sometimes that can even happen when you shift Wards. So it's never permanent unless your membership record is annotated. And even if you don't move, you can always claim repentance and get some of it back if it's still important to you (I honestly don't care anymore).

When I say I stop caring, I don't mean to broadcast disaffection, I mean internally -- while still caring about your ability to return to a higher level of status (such as TR-holding, or being able to hold a calling requiring a TR) if you choose to in the future.

2. Decide what boundaries you need to set.

There is probably some kind of angst in you that makes you want boundaries. You have to decide what that angst is, and what boundaries to set to quell the angst.

For me, boundaries have to do with the time and money the church expects of me. I've been burned in this regard a few times to the point I have a large hedge around me when it comes to service in the church. Service will have to be on my own terms -- not the church's. There will be no more callings with no end-date, meetings with no agenda [so I can assess if they are a good use of time, including leadership meetings], no more moving -- as I have injured myself too many times. I also have boundaries on what I will tolerate in terms of uncivil behavior, and what kinds of destructive beliefs I will allow the church to0 pass on to my children. I have boundaries on how they are allowed to interact with my son who is not a TBM, but still in the church. And I have boundaries on how much of my time I will allow them to extract from me doing activities with little spiritual or results-related ROI. What boundaries do you need? Each person needs to decide.

3. Pre-empt Boundary-Crossing

When I get the "size-up" from leaders in a new Ward, or new leaders in an existing Ward, I pre-empt their expectations. I go to them before they come to me. I let them know that I am heavily involved in the community, going to school, and other commitments that make it "impossible" to serve in a hefty calling. I am also proactive in dealing with issues before they come up. When my son didn't want the priesthood, I went to the YM leaders to explain. Naturally, they said "this is between you all and the Bishop" [a frustrating statement for me]. I explained that it impacted them to, and that this is what we needed from the church -- I laid it out. There were no problems after that. People kept their distance.

4. Be prepared to defend yourself

I had one situation where our unorthodoxy led to criticism (innuendo that my son was uninterested in the priesthood because prayer and scripture reading was not happening in our home). I countered that if that was the only driver of activity, why was my daughter a TR-holder and fully active, with a YW medallion at 14, sights on BYU and temple marraige, and exemplary Seminary involvement? Are there not multiple reasons for less activity? I was kind but I did assert myself to quell assumptions I felt were invalid.

5. Be Kind and Vague

Roy is good at this -- be kind in your assertions, don't go too deep into the reasons, particularly if you might offend people. But also give vague hope of activity or a return to the kind of Mormonism they expect, without making promises. I had to do this with a Stake President who came to my home (because a GA was coming to the stake, so he wanted some stories to tell). TR came up, and I mentioned "it's not something we feel passionate about right now, but isn't out of the question at some point in the future".

When pressed why, I replied:

"With the number of years you and I have in the church, we've been over every inch of the reasons in favor of a TR. I'm not sure a conversation about it would be enlightening for either of us".

End of conversation...

6. Provide Alternatives

When you are asked to do something, don't just give a flat-out no if you are willing to do something else in its place. They asked me to teach a class on Sunday. I responded that I couldn't teach a class, but if they needed help with putting on social activities, I could do that. "I'm unable to do X, but if you need help with Y, I can assist".

7. Teach and Train

Perhaps because I'm a teacher, I sort of enjoy indirectly teaching the leadership to adopt different attitudes. As someone once said "the best marketing doesn't feel like marketing". So, when I had to respond to a bit of a talking to from a Bishop about my being a bench-warmer, I went to the most open member of the Bpric and explained what I was doing with my spare time. Showed him my volunteer of the year award, evidence of several programs I had started, as well as the structure of five committees I was leading. I explained the need for career revitalization, how I had tried to use church service as a "parallel leadership career" in one job interview, which counted for very little. That everyone is at different levels. I asked if he knew I'd served in
  • and he was surprised (I don't look like your typical leader, although I am one). That for this season, my effort needed to be elsewhere for the good of my career.

    My hope was they they learned to ask a few more questions before they jumped to conclusions, to be less judgmental when they see a non-contributor at church and to see that time for church ebbs and flows throughout a person's life.

    Hope that helps. It works for me.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

startpoor
Posts: 193
Joined: 22 Nov 2013, 13:43

Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by startpoor » 30 May 2015, 07:03

Sorry to be so brief, I didn't realize it was such a broad topic. I'm talking about personal boundaries with my relationships: DW, sibs, parents, etc. regarding faith and beliefs. It's a new concept for me--I usually just open up and debate people who accuse me of being deceived or whatever. I now realize there's no way for me to change their mind, and I no longer need their sympathy, but I do want to garner respect, and to give respect in return. I'm not in a situation where people at church are giving me problems--quite the contrary, my ward situation is pretty good right now. But my family relationships need some work. Hence my need for knowing how to set and respect boundaries. Thanks for the responses so far. Very helpful.


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Happiness (n.) The state of being in compliance with Mormon norms, regardless of one’s actual resulting emotional state

George, Sr.: Faith is a fact. No, faith is a facet. I almost said faith is a fact.

amateurparent
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Joined: 19 Jan 2014, 20:43

Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by amateurparent » 30 May 2015, 08:17

Startpoor wrote: I now realize there's no way for me to change their mind, and I no longer need their sympathy, but I do want to garner respect, and to give respect in return.
For me, I find the boundaries are easiest when I stay away from the conversation. Essentially .. Quit poking at the wasp nest.

My DH is a wonderful guy. But we can read the same thing and come to vastly different conclusions. He chooses to believe certain things that I feel facts and evidence do not support. He finds facts and evidence that I consider bizarre. Certain topics are areas that we have decided are not open for discussion. Most topics are fair game. This works for us.

As far as extended family is concerned, some are very aware of my faith crisis, others are not. I work on being kind and supportive within the family and attempt to strengthen the relationships. We could argue all day over what is the perfect paint color ... We had better not get started on what is the best way to be spiritual or religious.

One brother left the church years ago, when he visits parents, he brings a suit and goes to church with them. It makes the parents very happy. It allows them to show off their son to their community. They don't want to hear about his religious differences, they just want to love him. There is a lot of wisdom in just allowing people to love you .. And returning that wholeheartly
I have no advance degrees in parenting. No national credentials. I am an amateur parent. I read, study, and learn all I can to be the best parent possible. Every time I think I have reached expert status with one child for one stage in their life, something changes and I am back to amateur status again. Now when I really mess up, I just apologize to my child, and explain that I am indeed an amateur .. I'm still learning how to do this right.

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mom3
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Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by mom3 » 30 May 2015, 14:38

I concur with Amateur Parent and Silent Dawning.

I know Silents was more church related, but that helps with extended relationships, too. Without putting someone down, you can mention positive things that are filling your time.

Most of all, you might want to decide what your boundaries are? Is LGBT important? Temple attendance? Religion or non? Don't say anything yet, just think them through, then come back and we can give some thoughts.

If you feel you must say something, try to present it in a way that saves the relationship. Believe it or not, you may want that relationship some day, so don't quibble over paint. (Thank AP for this one).
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

startpoor
Posts: 193
Joined: 22 Nov 2013, 13:43

Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by startpoor » 30 May 2015, 18:16

amateurparent wrote:
Startpoor wrote: I now realize there's no way for me to change their mind, and I no longer need their sympathy, but I do want to garner respect, and to give respect in return.
For me, I find the boundaries are easiest when I stay away from the conversation. Essentially .. Quit poking at the wasp nest.

My DH is a wonderful guy. But we can read the same thing and come to vastly different conclusions. He chooses to believe certain things that I feel facts and evidence do not support. He finds facts and evidence that I consider bizarre. Certain topics are areas that we have decided are not open for discussion. Most topics are fair game. This works for us.

As far as extended family is concerned, some are very aware of my faith crisis, others are not. I work on being kind and supportive within the family and attempt to strengthen the relationships. We could argue all day over what is the perfect paint color ... We had better not get started on what is the best way to be spiritual or religious.

One brother left the church years ago, when he visits parents, he brings a suit and goes to church with them. It makes the parents very happy. It allows them to show off their son to their community. They don't want to hear about his religious differences, they just want to love him. There is a lot of wisdom in just allowing people to love you .. And returning that wholeheartly
I have tried to just not bring things up, and for a while it was working. But I've encountered some problems: one is that DW likes to poke the wasps nest sometimes which can unwittingly lead me into a rant.
Second is that there has just become too many taboo subjects in my relationships. I want to be the guy who shows up and goes to church with his parents when I visit. Right now I'm the guy who goes to church each week partly to support DW, and get the third degree about my intentions. I want to establish boundaries so I can both be respectful, and have respect. I want to handle accusations better rather than becoming defensive. I want to get to the point where accepted even if I'm not agreed with, and respectfully watch my words with others. I just can't go forward avoiding so many subjects with people. It comes out eventually. Practiced control I think is a better road for me.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Happiness (n.) The state of being in compliance with Mormon norms, regardless of one’s actual resulting emotional state

George, Sr.: Faith is a fact. No, faith is a facet. I almost said faith is a fact.

amateurparent
Posts: 953
Joined: 19 Jan 2014, 20:43

Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by amateurparent » 30 May 2015, 19:37

Startpoor wrote: "There has just become too many taboo subjects in my relationships."
Startpoor, that has to be miserable.

Sounds like you need a place to process through all of it. Welcome to this forum. This is certainly a very cheap and accessible support group. I like that combination . There are some people here who are much further on their journey than I am. They have had some very sage advice.

Something I kept seeing people write was, " Don't share too much with others". I took that with a grain of salt, I didn't think there anything that I could say that would really be a problem for me. I was wrong. I have since decided that the less I say to anyone in my ward or extended family, the better things go. People want to assume the worse possible scenario about my life. They come up with motives and problems and ideas that have no truth or bearing in my life. Expressing doubt makes you fair game.

I cannot help but contrast this experience with a bishop who released due to an affair. He was seen as a devote member who "slipped". No one talked about why he was released. There was no gossip. People were just quietly supportive of him and his family. It was quiet enough that most people in the ward never even knew there had been an issue.

Express doubt about the church and the rumor mill takes over. If you have ever seen the social order of a flock of chickens, there is a real reason the term "pecking order" is used to describe certain social situations. Chickens will peck at the lowest member of their social structure until that chicken is bleeding and raw. The other chickens gang up on the lowly member of their flock. Death is often the result.

In LDS society, expressing doubt puts you low in the pecking order. Just be aware.
I have no advance degrees in parenting. No national credentials. I am an amateur parent. I read, study, and learn all I can to be the best parent possible. Every time I think I have reached expert status with one child for one stage in their life, something changes and I am back to amateur status again. Now when I really mess up, I just apologize to my child, and explain that I am indeed an amateur .. I'm still learning how to do this right.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Clueless about boundaries

Post by SilentDawning » 01 Jun 2015, 10:51

I find that if I don't invite discussion about the taboo topics, things are easier.

Also, look at doing the church stuff as one of the sacrifices you make for your spouse. It's a way of showing love, not a declaration of your faith.

If necessary, let your spouse know the things they say that are upsetting to you so they know not to cross those boundaries. When your spouse gets upset at a church comment you make, make note of the boundary you crossed, and don't cross it again.

When your spouse brings up taboo subjects, ask questions about them without making commentary. Show interest by asking questions but not punctuating it with your own perceptions of right/wrong/goodness/badness. \

Invest in other areas of the relationship to strengthen it. If I bring home flowers regularly that seems to make everything seem a lot better.

Use positive reinforcement. When your spouse does something positive in your relationship regarding the church, be kind, affectionate, whatever you need to do to reinforce that behavior. When there are bad church comments, make neutral responses, gradually segway to a new topic, and don't reward the discussion.

If necessary, have an open discussion to agree on boundaries for each other. This might open a can of worms, so proceed with caution. I like sensing the boundaries and respecting them -- that is what I do.

Don't ever bash the church. My wife said to me once "my comment about Church matter X was to discuss what we were going to do about it. It wasn't an invitation to bash the church." I learned when I was bashing and not problem-solving, and try not to cross that boundary.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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