Psychologists to parents: ‘Using a phone is like lifting the skirt up’

What psychologists say about personal boundaries in a family

The Tatarstan Ministry of Youth Affairs together with the Republican Commission for Juvenile Affairs continue a project of lives with psychologists for parents and children. The 11th transmission took place on 19 June about personal boundaries in the family. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report about the first sign of violation of personal space, how to define it not to insult anybody, if rules should be created in the family if it is allowed to peek into a teenager’s rucksack and phone.

Anger is the first sign the boundaries are violated

Moderator of the meeting, Vice Minister of Youth Affairs of Tatarstan Alla Kondratyeva reminded the audience that it was already the 11th live in which topical problems of relationships in the family and between partners were discussed. The project is organised together with the Republican Commission for Juvenile Affairs. It is noteworthy that the transmission takes place in the conference room of the republic’s Cabinet of Ministers. The format of the meeting is answers to hot-button questions asked by listeners too. If needed, one can have a personal consultation with psychologists.

Personal Boundaries in Family is the theme of this live. Psychologist of The Trust Centre for Psychological Support for Children and Youngsters Leysan Khisamutdinova explains that if in society or at work we clearly understand where personal boundaries are, nobody thinks about this at home.

“Personal boundaries at home is about if I feel good, comfortable, if it is safe at home or not. And it at times harder to set personal boundaries than at work,” she says.

It is by far harder for children. If at school, outdoors they understand that there is “me” and there are “others” and can create “a line of defence”, in the family, parents don’t consider a child’s position at home or, on the contrary, don’t restrict him or her at all. And when the boundaries are violated, it becomes tough to correctly set them.

“It is enough to listen to how people talk in the family to understand if there are boundaries or they are blurred. Now it is the time — and I am glad about this — when parents started to listen to children, while children started to listen to their parents. A violation of boundaries isn’t only about the child. Parents’ boundaries are also violated. Remember the babies who sometimes deliberately, sometimes because of development find out our boundaries. Many mums remember the period when they couldn’t go to the toilet, bathroom, they didn’t have the time to simply read a book. It is also about our personal boundaries. Children take it away from us,” the psychologist says.

Negative feelings are the first sign that personal boundaries are violated. As a rule, it is a feeling of anger. Since it is considered to be shameful to express in our society, it accumulates and leads to either an explosion or depression.

The first thing the psychologist advised one to do in this case is to recognise that it is normal to have personal boundaries and learn to say aloud that the boundaries are violated, not to conceal this state. Moreover, not only adults in the family but also children and even little kids should be explained this. But this should be done in the language they understand, through the game. A child can be told that the mum needs 10 minutes to rest and stay alone. The possibility of secluding, dedicating time to yourself will enable you to create a comfortable atmosphere in the family.

Make a list of don’ts

Khisamutdinova says that personal boundaries are often violated even in the most orderly families.

“Preferences change because children grow up, your situation changes. Two years ago, you liked to read books, this replenished you, and now you do this by going to the cinema. And this should also be explained. And then everything will be good. It applies not only to children and parents but also the spouses. It is a constant process. It runs smoothly if it is adopted in the family by all its members.

Even if people don’t usually talk about personal boundaries in the family, the psychologist advises firstly figuring out what exactly one doesn’t like and is irritated by because many have never thought of this — they simply feel stress, not understanding why. Everybody’s sensitivity threshold is different: somebody cannot drink a cup of tea with a door closed (What will my kids think? How are they doing without me?), somebody will feel fine if family members enter the bathroom while they are in. Then it is necessary to understand what feelings you have, what’s going on with you. And only then one can start a dialogue with relatives.

Khisamutdinova warned that one should talk not as an offended person but as a person who wants to find a solution so that everybody feels good. If mum doesn’t have a chance of having a rest, the whole family will suffer. She can say: “I love you very much but when you do something, I feel bad. For instance, if I cannot drink a cup of coffee alone, I start to get angry and shout at you or don’t let you do what you want. Let’s find a solution that will suit everybody.” In other words, it is important to seek help in a joint solution, not make claims. If it is found, everybody usually sticks to it. In a big family, these rules can even be written down on a piece of paper and put in a visible place. The list can regularly go on. And this doesn’t contain egoism because this is done not to be mad at others, to keep loving your partner, let your children develop fully. And this applies to everybody.

It is also necessary to talk with your spouse about personal time and space. Again, this is should be done without making complaints and coming to a sensible compromise.

Others’ phone is taboo

The theme of parental control was touched on separately during the live. Boundaries are boundaries, but all adults want to know where their child is, if he or she isn’t nearby, what websites and posts on social media they browse, whom they chat with and what they talk about. Parents asked the specialist about this.

For instance, a mum found cigarettes in her son or daughter’s rucksack. What to do in this case? The psychologist of The Trust centre explained that in this case, the child learns the boundaries of the possible in society and at home. The first eye-catching thing is that mum herself violated the teenager’s personal boundaries, which will already bring a negative reaction. Perhaps, this isn’t an isolated case. If mum doesn’t wonder what her child wants, there will be no dialogue. If she decided to cling to her point of view, this will be another violation of boundaries.

The most sensible way to find out what the child thinks about this, why he or she does this, is to put yourself in their shoes, explain what will happen if they continue smoking. In this case, any teenager will make a decision on their own, and an adult should simply be near. Then they will remain in contact.

A child’s smartphone any parent dreams of peeking into is another painful topic. Khisamutdinova warned that a phone is a personal object, using it is like “lifting the skirt up”. On the one hand, mum’s desire to know where her child is natural enough. If the child is little, the location may be tracked. It is also quite justified to have parental control over what the child downloads on the Internet. The only thing is that the child should be honestly explained what this is done for.

When it comes to teenagers, such spying will only irritate them. If parents control them from all sides, how can they become adults? There is only one solution here — it is necessary to come to an agreement with youngsters, to explain to them that parents, first of all, are concerned about safety. For instance, one can say: “I don’t call you but you tell me where you are... I don’t bother you until 22.00, then I look for you with dogs.” Such solutions should be looked for jointly. If you cannot sort it out, there is nothing shameful in turning to a specialist.

The total control includes parents’ psychological problem too. They should know how to let the child, understand you cannot always be a whole with him. Otherwise, trust will be undermined. In adulting, a person goes through several stages of separation: the delivery itself, 3 years, 7 years, teenage years. If children didn’t separate at one of the stages, this problem will accompany them further on. If parents are unable to fix the situation themselves, they should visit a psychologist.

By Eleonora Rylova