Question from a reader:

“What’s your best advice on how to protect your own children from your mother’s dysfunction?”

First, you model healthy boundaries with your mother so your kids know what healthy boundaries look like.

And then, in no particular order:

Teach your children to pay attention to their inner wisdom and to advocate for their needs and preferences.

If your children are young, limit the amount of time your mother spends with them and/or do not leave them alone with her.

If your children are older, have a conversation with them about what functional, interdependent relationships look like (versus dysfunctional, co-dependent relationships).

All of this can be done calmly, without drama, and without blaming anyone.

What do healthy boundaries look like?

They are clear.

They are simple.

They are about the actions you will take.

They let other people continue to behave how they want to.

They leave little room for negotiation.

They honor your values and preferences.

They ask you to create the conditions for them to thrive.

They work best when you honor them (and don’t expect others to).

They are not ultimatums.

They are not confusing.

They are not accusatory.

They do not blame.

A healthy boundary can be a simple request (for example: ”Please don’t yell at me.”) and an action you will take if the other person doesn’t want to honor your request (for example, “If you want to yell, I will hang up the phone.”)

Or, it can be a request and a benefit: “I’d prefer you didn’t yell. I’ll be better able to understand you.”

A healthy boundary gives you a way to show up in ALL your relationships so that you like and respect yourself.

Much, much love,


This piece first appeared on Patreon. THANK YOU to my current Patrons!

If you love my writing and would like to have access to it when it debuts, consider joining my exclusive community for as little as $2/month ($24/year). I chose this platform so my writing remains my own (versus being edited and perhaps misinterpreted) and ad-free. There you will find all my best work. There you can ask me for advice and I will give you my very best answer…and if it’s unclear or you need additional insight, I will provide it.

My current goal is 100 Patrons. When I reach this goal I will make a monthly donation to Women’s March, whose mission is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.