Family Matters
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rec. book on boundary issues

Hello all, I normally lurk here but was wondering if any of you might be able to help me.  I noticed that parent and in-law relationships are often the topic of discussion here, and that there are many on this board who have experience with these issues and perhaps have insights and experience learning about how to make these relationships healthier.  Can you recommend a good, helpful book that discusses healthy boundaries in relationships?  If you happen to know of a book that discusses healthy relationships between adult children and parents/in-laws, that would be wonderful.  Thank you!
DS born February 5, 2013

Need tips for surviving cat allergies? Check out my bio! :)

Re: rec. book on boundary issues

  • I have a copy of "Toxic In-Laws" by Susan Forword... it's a good read and gives a lot of explanation plus coping methods. It was a little harsh for my situation, so wasn't a totally necessary read for me, but I can see how it would help those in tougher in-law situations. We had a lot of communication issues with my IL's... it wasn't necessarily that they were "toxic".

    The one thing I've found though is that while the books are good tools, you can't improve an in-law relationship by going "by the book" all the time. It doesn't help to overanalyze a situation to death, which I learned the hard way.

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  • The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner
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  • Boundaries by Drs Cloud and Townsend
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  • Boundaries is a good one (I second that recommendation)! I read What Do You Want From Me, and that was an eye opener. Even my husband found it useful. My ILs are fvcking crazy and what has helped the most is a book on narcissism (which my MIL is, and that book helped DH see how she has been pulling off the crap he tries to avoid).
  • Thank you everyone for your recommendations.  I'll definitely look into them all.  By the way, I'm finding that some of these books (such as the Cloud/Townsend one) come from a Christian religious or theological perspective.  Nothing wrong with that, but I am hoping to find a book from a non-religious or non-denominational point of view and if any other lurkers are also hoping to benefit, they might want to know.
    DS born February 5, 2013

    Need tips for surviving cat allergies? Check out my bio! :)

  • image ATLdesi:
    Hello all, I normally lurk here but was wondering if any of you might be able to help me.  I noticed that parent and in-law relationships are often the topic of discussion here, and that there are many on this board who have experience with these issues and perhaps have insights and experience learning about how to make these relationships healthier.  Can you recommend a good, helpful book that discusses healthy boundaries in relationships?  If you happen to know of a book that discusses healthy relationships between adult children and parents/in-laws, that would be wonderful.  Thank you!

     Thank You for posting this!!! Looking forward to more recommendations - non Biblical as well.

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  • I've found a few titles on Amazon that look relevant and promising - going to take a quick browse today while at the public library, and I'd be happy to come back with general impressions afterward.

    Cutting Loose: An Adult's Guide for Coming to Terms with Your Parents by Howard Halpern

    What Do You Want From Me? Learning to Get Along with In-Laws by T. E. Apter

    I personally was really hoping for a neutral, non-denominational book that talks about boundary issues - in a perfect world, something that my DH and I could read along with my BIL/SIL and MIL/FIL.   I don't know if there is such a book though, that would work for all perspectives in the family.  Will keep looking.

    DS born February 5, 2013

    Need tips for surviving cat allergies? Check out my bio! :)

  • I found Codependent No More extremely useful at defining healthy relationships--and the boundaries that need to exist for them to be possible.
  • Hi everyone,

     I'm back and thought I'd provide a few thoughts on these two books that I read this week:

    What Do You Want From Me? Learning to Get Along with In-Laws by T. E. Apter

    Cutting Loose: An Adult's Guide for Coming to Terms with Your Parents by Howard Halpern

    I borrowed What Do You Want From Me? from my local public library.  Overall its an easy enough read.  It seems to be speaking specifically to daughters-in-law about how to handle their mothers-in-law.  The most helpful piece of info in the book is that behaviors between daughters- and mothers-in-law generally follow a cyclical pattern of stimulus and response, that starts and ends with both parties worried about being abandoned, unsupported, etc. by the husband/son.  The helpful part is, if a daughter-in-law changes her response to one of the mother-in-law's normal and annoying stimuli, then the whole cycle can potentially change for the better.  So that's the gist of it - it goes on for 200+ pages on this same theme.  

    While I found the book helpful, it seemed kind of one-dimensional because of its perpetual focus on this one relationship in the family (daughter-in-law and mother-in-law).  I imagine if this is the main problematic relationship in your life, the book will be useful - - but if you have difficulty with FILs, BILs, SILs, etc. it may not speak to those relationships as pertinently.

     

    I am only halfway through Halpern's book Cutting Loose - but already I feel like it is a fantastic and helpful read.  It mainly addresses parent/adult child relationships but I imagine it can be useful in a wide variety of situations to understand generational difference.  Halpern has chapters organized around different types of "tropes" in parents - for example, the Martyr Mother, or the Despotic Dad - funny :) but also very universal.  What I really appreciate about the book is that it isn't disrespectful to either parents or children even when discussing immature or frustrating behaviors that occur - it treats all parties sympathetically, recognizing that sometimes friction in families is caused b/c all parties are worried about being isolated, cut off, abandoned, rejected, etc.  It teaches the reader to recognize when emotions are stemming from that "inner child" afraid of rejection, versus when a rational, reasonable adult is making a healthy decision.  The reader then can learn to build boundaries with confidence that the rational adult in all people will understand the boundaries as healthy, and not think of them as a form of rejection or abandonment.  Even though it's written about parents and children, I'm finding it very helpful and at least in my family's case, relevant to examining all relationships as informed by people's fearful inner child versus their rational adult conscience.

     

    Anyway, hope this helps. 

    DS born February 5, 2013

    Need tips for surviving cat allergies? Check out my bio! :)

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