Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend part 2

I finished "Boundaries" today. I liked the book as a whole - the main message had to do with being responsible for your own choices, rather than being out-of-control, or constantly manipulated. I don't think it was a flawless book - I disagree with their interpretation of "reaping and sowing", and I felt that they spent the majority of time talking about the problem and very little time talking about the solution. So, when reading it you are left with an impression about where you have problems with boundaries, but not necessarily an action plan for change.

Section 2 of the book is called "Boundary Conflicts"
In this section he goes through certain types of relationships and what boundary problems would look like in those relationships. He talks specifically about: family of origin, friends, spouse, children, work, God (blaming God for things that are not His responsibility or doing), and self (for the out-of-control undisciplined person).

Family of origin - In this section he describes adults who are chronically immature, have trouble finding a job, trouble with finances, choose "black sheep" friends, yet enjoy a very loving family of origin. He says that adults in this situation need to leave the nest and begin taking responsibility for their own choices. They need to refuse illegitimate help from their parents which keeps them from emotionally leaving home. They also need to avoid "Triangulation" - which is the failure to resolve conflict between two persons without bringing in another family member to take sides. In rare cases an irresponsible sibling will sometimes lean on the responsible sibling to avoid leaving home and being an independant adult.

Friendships - In this section he talked about friends manipulating each other and complying because of guilt - but then resenting their friend and withdrawing. Those sorts of things will leave a trail of broken friendships. In order to be in a healthy friendship - we will sometimes disagree, but we will honestly discuss things.

Spouse - This section was long. He talked about not using passive-aggressive withdraw, but rather being clear and verbal about your goals - also keeping in mind that you may need to negotiate some to reach a happy compromise. Another point he makes throughout all the sections is that unforgiveness is a lack of boundaries. Refusing to forgive leaves you controlled by someone else, whereas forgiveness brings you the freedom to be responsible.

Children - In this section he talks about controlling and permissive parents. The answer for both is the same: lay out a boundary to your child along with the consequences and then let them choose if they want to obey or disobey. If they disobey, you must let them face the consequences. This is the only way kids will learn that their choices matter. For example, saying "You need to clean your room today, or there won't be any T.V." is good. Then, let the child choose to either clean their room or not. But if they don't clean it, and then they try to watch T.V. - you have to stick to your guns, and say "You will be able to watch T.V. after your room gets cleaned." They say that parents should raise their children to ultimately hold convictions such as: "My success or failure in life depends a good deal on me. Though I am to look to others for comfort and instruction, I alone am responsible for my choices. Though I am deeply affected by significant relationships, I can't blame my problems on others. Though I will always fail, I cannot depend on some overresponsible individual to constantly bail me out of spiritual, relational, or financial crises." (p. 178) They also emphasize that we always show unconditional love while setting limits.

Work - In this section, they advise workaholics (who work too much due to guilt and pressure) and those who resent their jobs, and those who can't seem to find any job that is "them". The point is that we can have crappy jobs without letting it control our lives or emotions, or we can take responsible actions to search for a better job.

Self - In this section he talks about people who don't take care of themselves, who overeat or fail to get proper sleep. And he puts it into a framework of boundaries - saying we need to take more ownership and set limits with ourselves as well.

God - In this section, he talks about human agency - the fact that there are certain things that God gives us to do. Also, he writes that we shouldn't blame God for what He didn't do; but that we should educate ourselves about God through the Word.

The final section is about the solution to boundaries. It wasn't that satisfying in my opinion. He did have some good stuff about not being a victim. For example, if you get guilted into doing something - that is your problem, not the guilt-tripper person's problem. They write this about being a victim: "People tend to look outside of themselves for the problem. This external perspective keeps you the victim. It says that you can never be okay until someone else changes. That is the essence of powerless blame. It may make you morally superior (in your own thinking, never in reality), but it will never fix the problem. Responsibility begins with an internal focus of confession and repentance." (p.264) He also talks about how we need the support of healthy Christian relationships and obviously the help of God too.

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