House & Home: Setting Boundaries that Make Everyone Feel Safe
“When we are in deep trouble we long to see some rescuer appear… Suddenly, decisively, kindness appears. And it is not the kindness of soft words or a gentle smile but a strong act of intervention, a mighty deliverance.”
Mel Lawrenz in Patterns
Where we live, how we shelter ourselves, and what our dwelling place looks like says a lot about us, some assumptions may be true, others not. Whether we even particularly like the structure of our homes or simply make do with the resources we’re given; says something too. Are we content with the present condition of our home? Or do we catch ourselves eying that which appears newer, maintenance-free and well, just all around more appealing than ours? Just how well do we care for and tend to that entrusted to us?
Whatever our inclination about housing and homes and the purposes these dwellings serve beyond protecting us from the elements, it must be remembered that how we live within our four walls matters. Anyone can dress up their house and make it look attractive to onlookers, but what really counts is what happens on the inside, the side no one else sees.
Ever walked into a home that was beautiful on the outside, but inside was falling apart? It happens more often than we might guess and when it does, people feel unsettled, anxious, and confused when the outside and inside don’t match. Something’s just wrong with this picture.
Like it or not, every family sets boundaries for themselves and we’re not talking the brick and mortar or white picket fence type either. Rather, inside our home (and around its periphery) people live by an unseen code that determines who gets in and who stays out. There’s also a set pattern to the ways and means of our in-house interactions. Boundaries, they’re there and each one is set in something stronger than stone.
Our home-life is indeed telling; as are our expectations for those living within them. For everyone creates certain lines that won’t be crossed and each individual sets specific boundaries around themselves that are off-limits even to those closest to them. It’s safer that way, right? But not always so healthy. Boundaries are good only when they serve their purpose of offering protection, provision, and room to grow.
For individuals to thrive within the setting of hearth and home, there’s some lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Disrespect. Disregard. Discomfort. Discouragement. To name just a few. Whenever our dwellings house these unattractive detractors, it is because of neglect, and where there is neglect, the value of the home and its occupants drops markedly.
No conscientious homeowner allows potentially harmful substances to infiltrate or devalue their house. But, do we permit it from the inside out due to simple neglect? Do we aggressively protect our borders by making sure every person is treated with respect, heartfelt regard, and realizes the comfort of an encouraging kind word? It is always easier to work at keeping households in good repair than it is to tear down and rebuild after its fallen into disheveled disarray. Lawrenz reminds us that homeowners everywhere decide daily how to protect their interests. Writes the author, “Kindness is a choice, not a temperament.” Would that everyone who finds themselves within our “borders” feel protected, provided for, and may the experience always be a pleasant one.
Takeaway Action Thought: Every kitchen should display the motto, “Protection, provision, and room to grow,” and no family member should travel far from it.
Weight Bearing Exercises
Setting boundaries and feeling safe and secure within one’s home is every woman’s reasonable expectation. Sure, women may have to attempt one or another redo or makeovers before finding the right fit for themselves, but most are pretty confident that their homes are all around safe havens. But try venturing out beyond the borders of the home routine and the world outside can feel frightening, uncertain, and unpredictable. Even when women leave their familiar surroundings for something as pleasurable as a vacation, it can feel risky. Like many choices that seem a bit chancy, simply taking some simple precautions and knowing your options helps alleviate the majority of pre-travel jitters. Be prepared, before, during and after you travel.
Before you go
• Take a list of all medications and known allergies
• Include your primary care physician and pharmacy phone numbers
• Keep all medications packed in your carry-on, not in checked luggage.
• If traveling for an extended time, bring a refill.
• If you or a family member becomes ill contact the hotel concierge or someone you know locally to find out where to go for medical care. A referral increases the odds of getting optimal treatment, don’t simply go to the nearest (or most convenient) clinic or urgent care facility.
• Those individuals prone to illness should consider travel health insurance before leaving.
• Medical evacuation insurance is particularly helpful for overseas travel and can be purchased for a reasonable fee.
• Refer to www.cdc.gov/travel site for specific information/warnings regarding the country you are intending to visit.
• Despite what we read in the news, the United States does have the best medical care in the world. So given the option, do your best to get back home to be treated. As the old saying goes, “There is no place like home” truly applies to health care.
About Michele Howe
Michele is the author of ten books for women and has published over 1200 articles, reviews, and curriculum to more than 100 different publications. Her articles and reviews have been published in Good Housekeeping, First For Women, Single Parent Family, Christianity Today, Focus on the Family and many other publications. Michele’s single parenting titles include, Going It Alone and Still Going It Alone. After having undergone five shoulder surgeries, Michele saw the need for a women’s inspirational health-related book co-authored with her orthopedic surgeon titled, Burdens Do a Body Good: Meeting Life’s Challenges with Strength (and Soul), released in 2010 and from which Prescription for Life, a new radio ministry is being based. Read more of Michele’s work at http://michelehowe.wordpress.com/
Michele was a guest on Heart & Soul on Wednesday January 5, 2011.