4. Communicating Effectively with your Relative and Setting Limits

Helping versus setting limits


Many families face a dilemma: give in to a loved one’s requests and possibly see their health deteriorate, or set boundaries and risk confrontations and power struggles. You will likely experience enormous guilt regardless of whether or not you follow your loved one’s wishes. Seeing a relative spend money on substances rather than on food, rent or other necessities can be distressing. You may want to help your relative as much as possible, but struggle with feeling obliged to help out of guilt and fear of hurting the person.

Setting limits can be difficult. It may be hard to choose a consequence for broken agreements that you can follow through on. You need to decide when and how much to support your family member, and to communicate the limits of the support and the expectations of your loved one. This process may take time.