Dear Suzie,

I’ve been following your study. What if you set boundaries and you lose?

I set boundaries with my adult children who lived in my home, and now they no longer talk to me. They were making terrible choices that were hurting them . . . and us.

~ A hurting mom

Dear mom,

First of all, let me reach with a huge cyber hug. I know this hard. I hear your heart.

I don’t know all the details of your story, but I do know this.

Transformation is hard, but you are worth it. 

When a situation with a loved one is chaotic or damaging because of their choices, a pattern develops. When there are no boundaries, then both parties might assume a role. In my friend Cheri’s case (we’ve talked about Cheri all this week), the pattern was — Dad verbally abused Cheri, and she took it.

There are other patterns that can take place.

One contributes everything and another takes it for granted, or demands more.

One cheats (lies, etc.) while another takes the blame for the cheater’s actions.

One does everything while another watches video games or checks out emotionally. 

One embarrasses their loved one in public but apologizes in private, and the other is expected to accept an apology without change. 

There are no perfect relationships. In the best of relationships, we all mess up from time to time. But an unhealthy pattern is different. It’s established over time. Everyone involved knows what to expect, and they simply play their role, even thought it’s not working well.

Boundaries break that pattern and redefine the roles.

And in the case that one refuses to let go of their role, you still grow.



In Cheri’s case, she asked God for wisdom. She prayed over the boundaries. She made certain they were mutual.

She shared her needs with her dad.

His response?

Not good. He was angry. You see, the long-standing pattern was ruffled. He saw it as disrespectful and dishonorable, though her motivation was pure.

It’s in those difficult moments where we question what we’re doing.

It’s in those same moments that we remind ourselves that transformation is hard work, and every one involved is worth it. 

Cheri came for Sunday dinner and if her dad said hurtful words to her, she’d simply excused herself and left.

It wasn’t easy. 

It took several times for her to stand quietly and says, “Love you dad, but I have to leave,” before changes began to take place. Over time, Cheri’s dad started to understand that Cheri meant what she said.

She wasn’t hurtful. She didn’t engage in “wordfare.” She continued to give what she wanted in return.

And one Sunday dinner, it went well. A new pattern had established. Not perfect, but a beginning for something better.

What if Cheri’s dad hadn’t changed?

Well, then Cheri’s children would have seen a woman who wasn’t afraid to work through the hard stuff with compassion and grace and strength.

And Cheri? She would have grown, even if no one else did.

Let’s be honest. Transformation takes time.

Here are some questions you can ask as you begin:

Will things ever change if I choose not to break the pattern?

If my loved one isn’t ready to change, am I willing to grow for me and for my family?

Is my motivation pure as I begin to set boundaries (it’s not about punishing)?

Am I willing to give what I ask?

Have I asked my Heavenly Father who loves me and my loved one into this process?

Healing is hard work, but you are worth it.


Today’s study

Let’s set aside boundaries for a moment and focus on the loved one involved. 

Give him or her to God. God sees their brokenness and He sees you. Take the burden of fixing this person off your shoulders and give that burden to Him.

Now, write three things that you can do. Three things that are within your power.

Let’s begin with this one:

1. I can pray for my loved one daily.

2. {fill in the blank}

3. {fill in the blank}

mom2beNext, answer the questions in the back of Chapter Seven of The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future (pages 106-108).

Read Philipians 4:6-7.

Q: As a woman of faith, what replaces worry as you break long-standing patterns with your loved one?