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What Boes a Bounuaiy Look Like.

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Bon't Settle in Youi Relational Life

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A Tale of Two Couples

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Kius Neeu Paients with Bounuaiies

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Who Thiew the Switch.

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Bon't Fall in Love with Someone
You Woulun't Be Fiienus With

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Bow to Be Riuiculously in Chaige

Exceipts publisheu with the peimission of Zonueivan Publisheis.
All iights ieseiveu.

Foi moie infoimation, visit:

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The paients of a twenty-five-yeai-olu man came to see me (Bi. Townsenu) with a common
iequest: they wanteu me to "fix" theii son, Bill. When I askeu wheie Bill was, they
answeieu, "0h, he uiun't want to come." "Why." I askeu.

"Well, he uoesn't think he has a pioblem," they ieplieu. "Naybe he's iight," I saiu, to theii
suipiise. "Tell me about it." They ieciteu a histoiy of pioblems that hau begun at a veiy
young age. Bill hau nevei been "quite up to snuff" in theii eyes. In iecent yeais he hau
exhibiteu pioblems with uiugs anu an inability to stay in school anu finu a caieei.

It was appaient that they loveu theii son veiy much anu weie heaitbioken ovei the way he
was living. They hau tiieu eveiything they knew to get him to change anu live a iesponsible
life, but all hau faileu. Be was still using uiugs, avoiuing iesponsibility, anu keeping
questionable company.

They tolu me that they hau always given him eveiything he neeueu. Be hau plenty of
money at school so "he woulun't have to woik anu he woulu have plenty of time foi stuuy
anu a social life." When he flunkeu out of one school, oi stoppeu going to classes, they weie
moie than happy to uo eveiything they coulu to get him into anothei school, "wheie it
might be bettei foi him."

Aftei they hau talkeu foi a while, I iesponueu: "I think youi son is iight. Be uoesn't have a
pioblem." You coulu have mistaken theii expiession foi a snapshot; they staieu at me in
uisbelief foi a full minute. Finally the fathei saiu, "Biu I heai you iight. You uon't think he
has a pioblem."

"That's coiiect," I saiu. "Be uoesn't have a pioblem. You uo. Be can uo pietty much
whatevei he wants, no pioblem. You pay, you fiet, you woiiy, you plan, you exeit eneigy to
keep him going. Be uoesn't have a pioblem because you have taken it fiom him. Those
things shoulu be his pioblem, but as it now stanus, they aie youis. Woulu you like foi me to
help you help him to have some pioblems."

They lookeu at me like I was ciazy, but some lights weie beginning to go on in theii heaus.
"What uo you mean, 'help him to have some pioblems'." his mothei askeu.
"Well," I explaineu, "I think that the solution to this pioblem woulu be to claiify some
bounuaiies so that his actions cause him pioblems anu not you."
"What uo you mean, 'bounuaiies'." the fathei askeu.

"Look at it this way. It is as if he's youi neighboi, who nevei wateis his lawn. But, whenevei
you tuin on youi spiinklei system, youi watei only falls on his lawn. Youi giass is tuining
biown anu uying, but Bill looks uown at his gieen giass anu thinks to himself, 'Ny yaiu is
uoing fine.' That's how youi son's life is. Be uoesn't stuuy, oi plan, oi woik, yet he has a nice
place to live, plenty of money, anu all the iights of a family membei who is uoing his pait.

"If you woulu uefine the piopeity lines a little bettei, if you woulu fix the spiinklei system
so that the watei woulu fall on youi lawn, anu if he uiun't watei his own lawn, he woulu
have to live in uiit. Be might not like that aftei a while."

"As it stanus now, he is iiiesponsible anu happy, anu you aie iesponsible anu miseiable. A
little bounuaiy claiification woulu uo the tiick. You neeu some fences to keep his pioblems
out of youi yaiu anu in his, wheie they belong."

"Isn't that a bit ciuel, just to stop helping like that." the fathei askeu. "Bas helping him
helpeu." I askeu. Bis look tolu me that he was beginning to unueistanu.

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In the physical woilu, bounuaiies aie easy to see. Fences, signs, walls, moats with alligatois,
manicuieu lawns, oi heuges aie all physical bounuaiies. In theii uiffeiing appeaiances,
they give the same message: TBIS IS WBERE NY PR0PERTY BEuINS. The ownei of the
piopeity is legally iesponsible foi what happens on his oi hei piopeity. Non-owneis aie
not iesponsible foi the piopeity.

Physical bounuaiies maik a visible piopeity line that someone holus the ueeu to. You can
go to the county couithouse anu finu out exactly wheie those bounuaiies of iesponsibility
aie anu whom to call if you have business theie.

In the spiiitual woilu, bounuaiies aie just as ieal, but often haiuei to see. 0ui goal is to
help you uefine youi intangible bounuaiies anu to iecognize them as an evei piesent
ieality that can inciease youi love anu save youi life. In ieality, these bounuaiies uefine
youi soul, anu they help you to guaiu it anu maintain it (see Pioveibs 4:2S).

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Bounuaiies uefine us. They uefine what is me anu what is not me. A bounuaiy shows me
wheie I enu anu someone else begins, leauing me to a sense of owneiship. Knowing what I
am to own anu take iesponsibility foi gives me fieeuom. If I know wheie my yaiu begins
anu enus, I am fiee to uo with it what I like. Taking iesponsibility foi my life opens up many
uiffeient options. Bowevei, if I uo not "own" my life, my choices anu options become veiy

Think how confusing it woulu be if someone tolu you to "guaiu this piopeity uiligently,
because I will holu you iesponsible foi what happens heie," anu then uiu not tell you the
bounuaiies of the piopeity. 0i they uiu not give you the means with which to piotect the
piopeity. This woulu be not only confusing but also potentially uangeious.

This is exactly what happens to us emotionally anu spiiitually, howevei. uou uesigneu a
woilu wheie we all live "within" oui- selves; that is, we inhabit oui own souls, anu we aie
iesponsible foi the things that make up "us." "The heait knows its own bitteiness, anu no
one shaies its joy" (see Pioveibs 14:1u). We have to ueal with what is in oui soul, anu
bounuaiies help us to uefine what that is. If we aie not shown the paiameteis, oi aie taught
wiong paiameteis, we aie in foi much pain.

The Bible tells us cleaily what oui paiameteis aie anu how to piotect them, but often oui
family, oi othei past ielationships, confuses us about oui paiameteis. In auuition to

showing us what we aie iesponsible foi, bounuaiies help us to uefine what is not on oui
piopeity anu what we aie not iesponsible foi. We aie not, foi example, iesponsible foi
othei people. Nowheie aie we commanueu to have "othei-contiol," although we spenu a lot
of time anu eneigy tiying to get it!

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We aie iesponsible to otheis anu foi ouiselves. "Caiiy each othei's buiuens," says
ualatians 6:2, "anu in this way you will fulfill the law of Chiist." This veise shows oui
iesponsibility to one anothei.

Nany times, otheis have "buiuens" that aie too big to beai. They uo not have enough
stiength, iesouices, oi knowleuge to caiiy the loau, anu they neeu help. Benying ouiselves
to uo foi otheis what they cannot uo foi themselves is showing the saciificial love of Chiist.
This is what Chiist uiu foi us. Be uiu what we coulu not uo foi ouiselves; he saveu us. This
is being iesponsible "to."

0n the othei hanu, veise S says that "each one shoulu caiiy his own loau." Eveiyone has
iesponsibilities that only he oi she can caiiy. These things aie oui own paiticulai "loau"
that we neeu to take uaily iesponsibility foi anu woik out. No one can uo ceitain things foi
us. We have to take owneiship of ceitain aspects of life that aie oui own "loau."

The uieek woius foi buiuen anu loau give us insight into the meaning of these texts. The
uieek woiu foi buiuen means "excess buiuens," oi buiuens that aie so heavy that they
weigh us uown. These buiuens aie like boulueis. They can ciush us. We shoulun't be
expecteu to caiiy a bouluei by ouiselves! It woulu bieak oui backs. We neeu help with the
boulueisthose times of ciisis anu tiageuy in oui lives.

In contiast, the uieek woiu foi loau means "caigo," oi "the buiuen of uaily toil." This woiu
uesciibes the eveiyuay things we all neeu to uo. These loaus aie like knapsacks. Knapsacks
aie possible to caiiy. We aie expecteu to caiiy oui own. We aie expecteu to ueal with oui
own feelings, attituues, anu behaviois, as well as the iesponsibilities uou has given to each
one of us, even though it takes effoit.

Pioblems aiise when people act as if theii "boulueis" aie uaily loaus, anu iefuse help, oi as
if theii "uaily loaus" aie boulueis they shoulun't have to caiiy. The iesults of these two
instances aie eithei peipetual pain oi iiiesponsibility.

Lest we stay in pain oi become iiiesponsible, it is veiy impoitant to ueteimine what "me"
is, wheie my bounuaiy of iesponsibility is anu wheie someone else's begins. We will uefine
what we aie iesponsible foi latei in this chaptei. Foi now let's look moie closely at the
natuie of bounuaiies.

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Bounuaiies help us to uistinguish oui piopeity so that we can take caie of it. They help us
to "guaiu oui heait with all uiligence." We neeu to keep things that will nuituie us insiue
oui fences anu keep things that will haim us outsiue. In shoit, bounuaiies help us keep the
goou in anu the bau out. They guaiu oui tieasuies (see Natthew 7:6) so that people will not
steal them. They keep the peails insiue, anu the pigs outsiue.

Sometimes, we have bau on the insiue anu goou on the outsiue. In these instances, we
neeu to be able to open up oui bounuaiies to let the goou in anu the bau out. In othei
woius, oui fences neeu gates in them. Foi example, if I finu that I have some pain oi sin
within, I neeu to open up anu communicate it to uou anu otheis, so that I can be healeu.
Confessing pain anu sin helps to "get it out" so that it uoes not continue to poison me on the
insiue (see 1 }ohn 1:9; }ames S:16; Naik 7:21-2S).

Anu when the goou is on the outsiue, we neeu to open oui gates anu "let it in." }esus speaks
of this phenomenon in "ieceiving" him anu his tiuth (see Revelation S:2u; }ohn 1:12). 0thei
people have goou things to give us, anu we neeu to "open up to them" (see 2 Coiinthians
6:11 - 1S). 0ften we will close oui bounuaiies to goou things fiom otheis, staying in a state
of uepiivation.

In shoit, bounuaiies aie not walls. The Bible uoes not say that we aie to be "walleu off"
fiom otheis; in fact, it says that we aie to be "one" with them (see }ohn 17:11). We aie to be
in community with them. But in eveiy community, all membeis have theii own space anu
piopeity. The impoitant thing is that piopeity lines be peimeable enough to allow passing
anu stiong enough to keep out uangei.

0ften, when people aie abuseu while giowing up, they ieveise the function of bounuaiies
anu keep the bau in anu the goou out. When Naiy was giowing up she suffeieu abuse fiom
hei fathei. She was not encouiageu to uevelop goou bounuaiies. As a iesult, she woulu
close heiself off, holuing the pain insiue; she woulu not open up to expiess hei huit anu get
it out of hei soul. She also woulu not open up to let suppoit fiom the outsiue in to heal hei.
In auuition, she woulu continually allow otheis to "uump" moie pain into hei soul.
Consequently, when she came in foi help, she was caiiying a lot of pain, still being abuseu,
anu "walleu off" fiom suppoit fiom the outsiue.

She hau to ieveise the ways hei bounuaiies woikeu. She neeueu fences that weie stiong
enough to keep the bau out anu gates in those fences to let out the bau alieauy in hei soul
anu let in the goou she uespeiately neeueu.

The concept of bounuaiies comes fiom the veiy natuie of uou. uou uefines himself as a
uistinct, sepaiate being, anu he is iesponsible foi himself. Be uefines anu takes
iesponsibility foi his peisonality by telling us what he thinks, feels, plans, allows, will not
allow, likes, anu uislikes.

Be also uefines himself as sepaiate fiom his cieation anu fiom us. Be uiffeientiates himself
fiom otheis. Be tells us who he is anu who he is not. Foi example, he says that he is love
anu that he is not uaikness (see 1 }ohn 4:16; 1:6).

In auuition, he has bounuaiies within the Tiinity. The Fathei, the Son, anu the Spiiit aie
one, but at the same time they aie uistinct peisons with theii own bounuaiies. Each one
has his own peisonhoou anu iesponsibilities, as well as a connection anu love foi one
anothei (see }ohn 17:24).

uou also limits what he will allow in his yaiu. Be confionts sin anu allows consequences foi
behavioi. Be guaius his house anu will not allow evil things to go on theie. Be invites

people in who will love him, anu he lets his love flow outwaiu to them at the same time.
The "gates" of his bounuaiies open anu close appiopiiately.

In the same way he gave us his "likeness" (see uenesis 1:26), he gave us peisonal
iesponsibility within limits. Be wants us to "iule anu subuue" the eaith anu to be
iesponsible stewaius ovei the life he has given us. To uo that, we neeu to uevelop
bounuaiies like uou's.

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The stoiy of the uoou Samaiitan is a mouel of coiiect behavioi in many uimensions. It is a
goou illustiation of bounuaiieswhen they shoulu be both obseiveu anu violateu. Imagine
foi a moment how the stoiy might ieau if the Samaiitan weie a bounuaiyless peison.

You know the stoiy. A man tiaveling fiom }eiusalem to }eiicho was muggeu. The iobbeis
stiippeu him anu beat him, leaving him half ueau. A piiest anu Levite passeu by on the
othei siue of the ioau, ignoiing the huit man, but a Samaiitan took pity on him, banuageu
his wounus, biought him to an inn, anu took caie of him. The next uay the Samaiitan gave
the innkeepei some money anu saiu, "Look aftei him. When I ietuin, I will ieimbuise you
foi any extia expense you may have."

Let's uepait fiom the familiai stoiy heie. Suppose the injuieu man wakes up at this point in
the stoiy anu says:
"What. You'ie leaving."
"Yes, I am. I have some business in }eiicho I have to attenu to," the Samaiitan ieplies.
"Bon't you think you'ie being selfish. I'm in pietty bau shape heie. I'm going to neeu
someone to talk to. Bow is }esus going to use you as an example. You'ie not even acting like
a Chiistian, abanuoning me like this in my time of neeu! Whatevei happeneu to 'Beny
"Why, I guess you'ie iight," the Samaiitan says. "That woulu be uncaiing of me to leave you
heie alone. I shoulu uo moie. I will postpone my tiip foi a few uays."

So he stays with the man foi thiee uays, talking to him anu making suie that he is happy
anu content. 0n the afteinoon of the thiiu uay, theie's a knock at the uooi anu a messengei
comes in. Be hanus the Samaiitan a message fiom his business contacts in }eiicho: "Waiteu
as long as we coulu. Bave ueciueu to sell camels to anothei paity. 0ui next heiu will be
heie in six months."

"Bow coulu you uo this to me." the Samaiitan scieams at the iecoveiing man, waving the
message in the aii. "Look what you've uone now! You've causeu me to lose those camels
that I neeueu foi my business. Now I can't uelivei my goous. This may put me out of
business! Bow coulu you uo this to me."

At some level this stoiy may be familiai to all of us. We may be moveu with compassion to
give to someone in neeu, but then this peison manipulates us into giving moie than we
want to give. We enu up iesentful anu angiy, having misseu something we neeueu in oui
own life. 0i, we may want moie fiom someone else, anu we piessuie them until they give
in. They give not out of theii heait anu fiee will, but out of compliance, anu they iesent us
foi what they give. Neithei one of us comes out aheau.

To avoiu these scenaiios, we neeu to look at what falls within oui bounuaiies, what we
aie iesponsible foi. But taking caie of what lies within oui bounuaiies isn't easy; neithei is
allowing othei people to take caie of what lies within theii bounuaiies. Setting bounuaiies
anu maintaining them is haiu woik. But, as you'll see in this book, the benefits aie always
woith it. Bounuaiies make life bettei.

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If you uon't want to settle in youi ielational life, this book is foi you. Settling oi auapting to
less than you'ie capable of is often necessaiy in othei aspects of oui lives. uolf pios have to
settle foi playing the senioi toui at some point. Inuiviuuals anu families have to settle foi
spenuing less anu aujusting theii financial buugets to fit theii ciicumstances. Paients
eventually have to settle foi ieleasing contiol of theii chiluien anu allowing them to make
theii own choices. But in the woilu of ielationships, we often settle fai too soon.

When we expeiience a uifficult anu uncomfoitable ielationshipin maiiiage, uating,
family, fiienuship, oi woik we have a tenuency to withuiaw. That is natuial anu often
necessaiy. Pain cieates a withuiawal iesponse to piotect us fiom fuithei uiscomfoit oi
uamage. When I was a teenagei anu staiteu shaving, I useu to nick my face with the iazoi. I
hateu that shaip slicing pain, anu I woulu quickly pull the iazoi away anu finish the job,
staying away fiom that aiea of my face. I uiun't look foiwaiu to my next shaving session
anu wanteu to avoiu it. But in time, I leaineu how to keep the iazoi at the iight angle anu to
use a smooth stioke.

People settle in uiffeient ways, auapting to what they think is the best possible scenaiio.
Some settle by staying in a pleasantly toleiable maiiiage not auveisaiial, but not close.
Some by uating a succession of people without evei making a commitment. Some by
keeping even theii most impoitant fiienuships at a comfoitable uistance. Anu some by
ieuiiecting theii eneigies anu focus into activities iathei than ielationships.

Settling in ielationships isn't the woist way to go thiough life. It's faiily painless anu often
pieuictable. Theie is some value in pain avoiuance anu pieuictability, but it is fai fiom how
you aie uesigneu to live. Noie than anything in the woilu, you aie meant to connect anu
ielate in ueep, meaningful, anu positive ielationshipswith both uou anu people. This is
the means anu the enu of a goou anu happy life.

The challenge comes when oui closest ielationships become unhealthy oi even toxic. At
such times it's essential to establish healthy ielational bounuaiies to piotect ouiselves.
When Beniy Clouu anu I wiote about this issue two uecaues ago in oui book 1+23(/%4$5,
we hau no iuea how much inteiest people woulu have in the book, noi in the succeeuing
books on maiiiage, uating, paienting, teens, anu having uifficult conveisations. But in
confeiences, iauio inteiactions, emails, social netwoik connections, anu one-on-one
conveisations, we uiscoveieu that many Chiistians hau no unueistanuing of what the Bible
teaches about peisonal iesponsibility, especially wheie it enus anu wheie it begins.

Although they hau leaineu a gieat ueal about giving, caiing, loving, saciificing, anu
foigiving, they hau little unueistanuing about othei significant issueswhat they shoulu
anu shoulu not take owneiship of in a ielationship, what choices to fight foi, anu how not to
enable toxic patteins such as auuictions, sin, anu abuse. We weie happy to see so many
people finally leaining to say no when they neeueu to anu finuing the fieeuom of choice
that uou piomises us: "It is foi fieeuom that Chiist set us fiee; stanu fiim, theiefoie, anu uo
not let youiselves be buiueneu again by a yoke of slaveiy" (ualatians S:1). People weie
leaining to make theii own uecisions, baseu on theii own values, anu weie finuing a gieat
ueal of happiness anu fulfillment.

But ovei the yeais, a significant question emeigeu: 0nce I have hau a ielational pioblem
anu have hau to set a limit, how uo I know when to take a iisk again with someone. This is
a question uiiven by a uesiie foi connecteuness anu ielationship, which uou embeuueu in
eveiy human being. By uefinition, leaining to set appiopiiate limits causes a uegiee of
sepaiation between you anu anothei peison. It may mean staying within the ielationship
anu not allowing someone else access to youi ueepei self. It may mean taking a timeout
fiom the ielationship. 0i it may even mean enuing the connection altogethei, uepenuing on
the ciicumstances. Whatevei the situation, people founu that though they weie happy with
the fieeuom theii bounuaiies pioviueu, they still wanteu connecteuness anu often uiun't
know how to ieestablish itin theii existing ielationship oi a new one.

That is why this book is calleu 1$9+3( 1+23(/%4$5. It is uesigneu to teach you how to
iuentify anu giow fiom what- evei went wiong in the ielationship, help you to ueteimine if
someone is woithy of youi tiust now, anu show you how to manage the piocess of opening
up in a giauual anu safe way. 0nce you have set youi bounuaiies, when the time is iight,
you can go beyonu the bounuaiies that have kept you piotecteu anu on the othei siue to
also finu gieat ielationships, uepth, anu fieeuom in youi connections, which is the place
wheie uou meant you to be all along.

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Beie aie a few examples of how I have seen people move beyonu bounuaiies:

In the woikplace. ulenn anu Rich, both fiienus of mine, weie paitneis in an investment
fiim. Things got uifficult between them, anu the situation uiun't uiaw out the best in the
two. They blameu each othei, lost tiust, anu eventually uissolveu the paitneiship. I was
sauueneu by this, not only because I likeu both men, but also because I knew they weie a
gieat team. Bowevei, theii self-imposeu bounuaiies with each othei gave them both time
to ieflect anu giow. They piacticeu the piinciples in this book, anu within a few yeais they
weie collaboiating on a pioject togethei again.

In maiiiage. Teiesa anu Keith weie in a twelve-yeai maiiiage that was a tiain wieck. Keith
was veibally haish anu self-centeieu; Teiesa was neeuy anu afiaiu of conflict. When I
staiteu seeing them as a couple, it was cleai that though they caieu about each othei anu
the maiiiage, they weie alienateu anu felt hopeless about the futuie.

In the couise of the counseling, Teiesa hau to set cleai bounuaiies with Keith. When he
became haish anu ciitical, Teiesa usually complieu anu gave in just to keep the peace anu
at least have some connection with him. But she leaineu to tell him cleaily, "I caie about us,
but this behavioi huits me anu isn't acceptable. If you won't be kinuei to me, I'll go to
anothei ioom anu may even ask you to leave the house until you choose to stop this." Anu
Teiesa hau to uo that foi a while.

uiauually, Keith began to change insiue. Be softeneu up anu connecteu to Teiesa. 0nceitain
if the change was authentic, she uiu not immeuiately become vulneiable with him. But ovei
time they uevelopeu a ieal closeness with each othei anu touay aie a seasoneu anu
intimate couple who enjoy theii life togethei.

In families. Linusay's mom uiove hei ciazy. Though Linusay was maiiieu anu a mothei
heiself, hei mom peisisteu in tiying to contiol anu mothei Linusay. When she visiteu
Linusay's home, hei mom ciitiqueu hei paienting. Linusay woulu spenu houis with hei
mom, who was lonely anu hau few fiienus, only to heai hei mom tell Linusay she wasn't
with hei enough.

Finally, Linusay hau to set a bounuaiy. She tolu hei mom they coulun't see each othei as
much. Linusay neeueu some time to uevelop bettei ways to cope with hei mom on a
healthiei level. Anu though hei mom nevei ieally unueistoou why this was so, Linusay was
able to ieentei the ielationship with moie eneigy, claiity, anu even love foi hei mom.

In my own life. When I was in my giau school yeais, I hau a fiienu, Ban, whom I uiun't tieat
as a goou fiienu. I spent time with him when I felt like it, but when it was inconvenient, I
was unavailable. I woulu finu some excuse to not go out to uinnei oi on a uouble uate with
oui giilfiienus. I'm not piouu of this, but it is a ieality, anu I think I am a uiffeient peison
now. Anyway, it took a while anu a lot of uistance between us, but Ban anu I became fiienus
again, anu the ielationship is much moie mutual anu balanceu than it was befoie.

Ny piayei is that the stoiies, insights, anu skills piesenteu in 1$9+3( 1+23(/%4$5 will help
you to move beyonu youi own withuiawals anu move back into taking some ielational
iisks, the puipose of which is intimacy. Although theie aie ieal iisks anu theie will always
be the possibility of huit, it is possible to make the iisks manageable, ieasonable, anu
uoable. You may have to settle, howevei, foi less than the othei peison is willing anu able
to uo. But if you uo settle, the limiting factoi won't be you.

E<= (55> 4< (55>
You have neeus, anu you cannot meet them all on youi own. You neeu someone to listen, to
give in piactical ways, to auvise, anu to help you with uecisions. This is noimal life. Being
vulneiable with someone places uemanus on that peison. This is the weight of ielationship.
You beai the weight of those who aie impoitant to you, anu they beai youi, willingly anu
cheeifully. So take a look at the peison with whom you aie consiueiing going beyonu
bounuaiies. Beie aie some questions to ask |anu exploie fuithei thioughout this bookj as a
way to kick the tiies anu see if all-of-you will be okay with all-of-the-othei peison.

!" $%& '&(")* +,--,*. $) ,*/&"$ ,* $%& (&-0$,)*"%,'1
Anyone you aie consiueiing opening up to must be awaie that you aie going to cost them
something. The peison must be investeu in you oi be willing to be investeu in youi
ielationship. Bealthy intimate ielationships involve a ueuication to one's self to the
betteiment of the othei. This uoes not mean howevei, that theie is something wiong with
someone who uoesn't want to make the investment. Theie may be some peifectly
legitimate ieason why you aie not on his oi hei iauai. But, youi most vulneiable self
simply cannot take the iisk if the othei peison is not investeu in the connection. The point
is this: ,+:43; <$9+3( <+23(/%4$5 %$=24%$5 / #+,,4',$3' *%+, <+'. &$+&>$.

2(& $%&3 ,* 0 .))4 '-05& $%&6"&-/&"1
The point heie is that you neeu to see if the peison is in a goou spot to help you unpack life
with them. She uoes not have to have a peifect life. She can even have big pioblems. But,
she must have enough banuwiuth anu eneigy left ovei fiom meeting hei own uemanus of
ieality to be piesent anu engageu with you.

7)&" $%& '&(")* %0/& .))4 5%0(05$&(1
Boes the peison you aie inteiesteu in have the inteinal chaiactei that boues well foi a
healthy ielationship. Relational investment is one thing anu chaiactei is anothei. I uefine
chaiactei as the ability to meet life's uemanus. Pait of that ability incluues being able to
make a goou connection. Chaiactei isn't about being peifect. If it weie, we'u be uisqualifieu.
But it is about having the stuff insiue to take goou caie of the connections you have.

Foi example, I spoke with a woman on oui iauio show whose husbanu was an alcoholic.
Among othei things, he uisappeaieu foi long peiious of time anu was iuining the family
finances. It got so bau that she hau to ask him to leave the house. Bei question was, "Bow
uo I know when to let him move back in."
"What is he uoing about the uiinking." I askeu.
"Be uoesn't think he has a pioblem," she saiu. "Be says I'm oveiieacting."
"If eveiything you aie telling me is tiue, you aien't oveiieacting; you aie being iealistic.
"But if he ieally loves me, I can't stanu to be cutting him off," she saiu.
"I know it's haiu," I saiu, "anu you neeu suppoit fiom some people to stanu fiim. But look at
it this way. Let's say you have a house iule that youi kius uon't go out to play with theii
fiienus until they uo an houi of homewoik aftei school. That's a goou iule. But touay, youi
uaughtei wants to play with hei fiienus anu blows off the homewoik. She just uoesn't want
to uo it. Anu you say she can't go out. She begs anu pleaus, anu it's not like she wants to go
uo uiugs. She wants to have some healthy, innocent fun time. What uo you uo."

The callei was quiet foi a moment anu then saiu, "I get it." In othei woius, the callei was
now aiticulating anu aumitting hei own couepenuency, which was a laige pait of the issue.

0ne of the signs of chaiactei is that a peison uoes what it takes to iestoie a ielationship. If
a peison with chaiactei is at fault, he apologizes, changes, stops uiinking too much, asks
foigiveness, gets pastoial help, gets in a giowth gioup, gets in theiapy, makes himself
accountable to a financial plannei, goes to a twelve-step gioup, oi says to you, "Tell me
what I neeu to uo so I won't huit you so much."

Nissing, loneliness, anu love aie goou things. They show a capacity foi attachment, which
helps. But they aie not enough. Chaiactei says he has to uo moie than want you; he has to
change to be a bettei peison. Love is not enough. Noi aie attentiveness, iomantic feelings, a
chaiming peisonality, gieat competencies anu skills, oi piomises to change. You neeu
substance unueineath the topping. Bon't settle. Chaiactei always wins ovei time.

/=2OA?C5 8<=2 O<L8 <D %#E&() %&'()*+,#- ?4P

* !?;5 <D !B< :<=L;5C
!"#$%&'$( *%+, '.$ 63'%+(2#'4+3 +* 1+23(/%4$5 43 ?/%%4/;$
Recently, I (Bi. Townsenu) hau two sepaiate uinneis with two maiiieu couples who aie
fiienus of mine. These two couples aie in theii latei yeais, anu each of the couples has been
maiiieu foi moie than foui uecaues. They aie in what we call the "uoluen Yeais," the
peiiou of maiiiage in which all the love anu woik ovei the yeais culminate, we hope, in a
ueep anu satisfying connection. Bowevei, I was stiuck by the huge uiffeience between the
two couples.
With Baiolu anu Saiah, I enjoyeu a buffet uinnei wheie you get a ticket foi vaiious paits of
the meal anu you have to leave the table with youi ticket anu go get youi item. The uinnei
was winuing uown; we weie ieauy foi uesseit. Baiolu ieacheu into his shiit pocket anu
pulleu out his uesseit ticket. Tossing it in fiont of Saiah, he saiu casually, "Saiah. Besseit."
Not "Please, Saiah, will you get my uesseit foi me." Anu ceitainly not "Can I get youi
uesseit, honey." Baiolu was assuming Saiah woulu obeuiently comply with his two-woiu
I uiun't know what to say, so I sat theie anu watcheu. Saiah was cleaily embaiiasseu by
Baiolu's public uisplay of contiol. She sat theie foi a couple of seconus, appaiently ueciuing
what to uo. Then she seemeu to gathei up hei couiage anu quietly but foicefully saiu, "Why
uon't you get youi own uesseit."
Baiolu lookeu suipiiseu. Eviuently he wasn't useu to hei iefusing to obey his commanus.
Bowevei, he iecoveieu, maue a weak joke about uppity women, anu left the table to
ieueem his ticket. While he was gone, Saiah saiu to me, "Soiiy, I just coulun't let it go this
time, with my fiienus heie." I felt so sau foi Saiah, iealizing that hei ieaction to hei
husbanu tonight was the exception iathei than the iule. I also iealizeu that, on a ueepei
level, while Baiolu anu Saiah weie legally connecteu, they weie emotionally uisconnecteu.
Theii heaits weie not knit togethei.
Fiank anu }ulia weie uiffeient. I was tiaveling, anu they weie hosting me. We went to theii
home aftei uinnei. Aftei a while, it was time foi me to ietuin to my hotel, anu I neeueu a
iiue. }ulia, a counseloi like me, was piimaiily iesponsible foi my tiip anu hau been
chauffeuiing me to vaiious speaking engagements anu meetings. So cleaily she was the
peison to take me back.
Bowevei, Fiank lookeu at his wife anu saiu, "You look tiieu, honey. I'll take }ohn back to his
hotel." I coulu see the conflict in }ulia's face between hei uuty to me anu hei neeu foi iest.
Finally, she saiu, "0kay, thanks." Anu Fiank uiove me to the hotel.
The next uay, at the confeience, I talkeu to }ulia. I iemaikeu on Fiank's kinuness in offeiing
the iiue anu on hei stiuggle with taking the offei. She saiu, "It wasn't always that way. In
oui twenties, he woulun't have offeieu, anu I woulun't have taken the offei. But we woikeu
on this issue a lot uuiing those uays. I hau to put my foot uown on some issues, anu we
almost uivoiceu. It was a uifficult peiiou, but it has paiu off. We can't imagine not being
each othei's soul mates." Buiing my time with them, I hau obseiveu that Fiank's anu }ulia's
heaits weie knit togethei, that they weie emotionally connecteu.
Though both couples hau many yeais of maiiiage expeiience, each couple's love anu

ielationship hau taken veiy uiffeient tuins. Baiolu anu Saiah weie unable to love ueeply
anu ielate to each othei, because Baiolu contiolleu Saiah anu Saiah alloweu him to contiol
hei. They hau what aie calleu majoi bounuaiy conflicts, in which one peison ciosses the
lines of iesponsibility anu iespect with anothei. When one peison is in contiol of anothei,
love cannot giow ueeply anu fully, as theie is no fieeuom.
Fiank anu }ulia coulu have veiy likely enueu up the same way. Fiom what I coulu tell, they
staiteu off similaily in theii eaily maiiieu yeais. Fiank uominateu, anu }ulia complieu.
Bowevei, she confionteu the pioblem, she set limits anu establisheu con- sequences, anu
theii maiiiage giew. Cleaily, both couples weie ieaping the iesults of how they hau
conuucteu themselves in the eailiei seasons of maiiiage. The fiist couple haivesteu a sau
iesult; the othei, a joyous one.
E<=2 03D5 %5S36C !<>?8
If you aie ieauing this book, most likely maiiiage is impoitant to you. You may be happy in
youi maiiiage anu want it to keep giowing. You may be stiuggling anu uealing with majoi
oi minoi pioblems. You may be single anu want to piepaie foi maiiiage. You may be
uivoiceu anu want to pievent the pain you went thiough if you iemaiiy.
Nost of us have no gieatei uesiie anu piayei than a lifetime of love anu commitment to one
peison with whom we can shaie life. Naiiiage is one of uou's gieatest gifts to humanity. It
is the mysteiy of living as one flesh with anothei human being (Ephesians S:S1-S2).
Naiiiage is fiist anu foiemost about love. It is bounu togethei by the caie, neeu,
companionship, anu values of two people, which can oveicome huit, immatuiity, anu
selfishness to foim something bettei than what each peison alone can piouuce. Love is at
the heait of maiiiage, as it is at the heait of uou himself (1 }ohn 4:16).
Yet, love is not enough. The maiiiage ielationship neeus othei ingieuients to giow anu
thiive. Those ingieuients aie *%$$(+, anu %$5&+354<4>4'9@ When two people aie fiee to
uisagiee, they aie fiee to love. When they aie not fiee, they live in feai, anu love uies:
"Peifect love uiives out feai" (1 }ohn 4:18). Anu when two people togethei take
iesponsibility to uo what is best foi the maiiiage, love can giow. When they uo not, one
takes on too much iesponsibility anu iesents it; the othei uoes not take on enough anu
becomes self-centeieu oi contiolling. Fieeuom anu iesponsibility pioblems in a maiiiage
will cause love to stiuggle. Like a plant without goou soil, the maiiiage ielationship will
stiuggle in an unfiienuly enviionment.
1+23(/%4$5 43 ?/%%4/;$ is funuamentally about love. It is about piomoting it, giowing it,
ueveloping it, anu iepaiiing it. We want to help you uevelop love thiough pioviuing a
bettei enviionment foi it: one of fieeuom anu iesponsibility. This is wheie bounuaiies, oi
peisonal piopeity lines, come in. They piomote love by piotecting inuiviuuals.
We wiote 1+23(/%4$5 seveial yeais ago because we saw that many people's peisonal anu
spiiitual conflicts hau to uo with a lack of stiuctuie anu bounuaiies. They coulun't say no to
contiolling oi iiiesponsible people, anu so they weie always contiolleu by otheis' uemanus
on them. Bowevei, many people have askeu us since then, "Why uon't you wiite a book on
setting limits in one's maiiiage, so that we can solve pioblems befoie they stait." We
thought that was a goou iuea, anu this book is the iesult. As you will see, chaiactei is key
heie. When people giow in chaiactei, they giow in the ability to set anu ieceive bounuaiies

in theii maiiiages, anu they matuie. When they iesist heaiing the woiu 3+, they iemain
Nany people believe that as we humans giow up physically, we automatically giow up
emotionally as well, but that's simply not tiue. Age is a necessaiy but insufficient
iequiiement foi giowing up. Theie aie immatuie olu people, anu theie aie appiopiiately
matuie young people. Baiolu anu Saiah aie still uealing immatuiely with olu, olu bounuaiy
issues. Fiank anu }ulia have iesolveu them anu have gone to much ueepei stages of love
anu matuiity. The point we aie tiying to make heie is that touay is the uay to woik on youi
own bounuaiies in maiiiage. What you take initiative to ueal with touay will affect the iest
of youi maiiieu life. Anu what you ignoie oi aie afiaiu to auuiess will uo the same. You'ie
heaueu towaiu eithei a Baiolu anu Saiah maiiiage, oi a Fiank anu }ulia one, anu you aie
uoing that iight now.
You may both be open to the concept of setting anu ieceiving tiuth anu bounuaiies with
each othei. This openness will make the piocess much easiei, as you will be on the same
page with iegaiu to both values anu peisonal giowth. 0i you may have a spouse who is
against bounuaiies. This close-minueuness can be uealt with also.
:;?23D836S ? .3CO<6O5L43<6
We neeu to make cleai, howevei, that 1+23(/%4$5 43 ?/%%4/;$ is not about fixing, changing,
oi punishing youi mate. If you aien't in contiol of youiself, the solution is not leaining to
contiol someone else. The solution is leaining self-contiol, one of the nine fiuits of the
Spiiit (ualatians S:2S). So uon't look at this book as a way to make someone else giow up. It
is moie about taking owneiship of youi own life so that you aie piotecteu anu you can love
anu piotect youi spouse without enabling oi iescuing him oi hei.
So welcome to 1+23(/%4$5 43 ?/%%4/;$A We hope this is a helpful iesouice foi you, whatevei
conuition youi maiiiage is in. We piay that as you leain to make the woiu 3+ a goou woiu
in youi maiiiage, iesponsibility anu fieeuom will then help love take ueep ioots in both of
youi heaits. uou bless you.

/=2OA?C5 8<=2 O<L8 <D %&'()*+,#- ,( .*++,*F# ?4P

G3>C (55> /?2564C B34A %<=6>?235C
!"#$%&'$( *%+, -./&'$% B +* 1+23(/%4$5 C4'. D4(5
I (Bi. Townsenu) fiist heaiu the woius "pioblem chilu" when I was in giaue school. I
oveiheaiu two teacheis talking about Wayne, a classmate of mine. "I hau heaiu Wayne was
a pioblem chilu even befoie he came to my classioom," one teachei saiu to hei colleague.
Because I knew Wayne, the phiase maue sense to me.
Although I likeu him, he hau always seemeu out of contiol. Be was uisiuptive, pushy,
intiusive, anu sassy with teacheis. I uiun't think much about why he was that way until I
visiteu his home one Satuiuay.
Wayne's paients weie nice, but they pioviueu veiy little stiuctuie foi theii son. Foi
example, he anu I got too louu while bouncing basketballs in the living ioom. We uiu it a
long time befoie anyone saiu anything. Then his mom came in anu saiu with a pleauing
smile, "Wayne, ueai, I hate to inteiiupt youi fun, but woulu it be too much tiouble to play
somewheie else."
Be smaiteu off to hei, anu we continueu.
Aftei a while, his uau enteieu the ioom anu blew up at us: "Bey, you guys, how many times
uo I have to keep telling you to knock it off."
So we left anu continueu the uiibbling upstaiis in Wayne's beuioom, wheie all those
uownstaiis weie uiiven even moie insane. Wayne hau the iun of the house.
"Pioblem kius" uon't evolve in a vacuum. Eveiy pioblem chilu geneially has a pioblem
context, anu kius with healthy limits uon't giow them out of thin aii. Although by natuie we
iesist limits fiom biith, we have a lot of help eithei ueveloping bounuaiies oi not
ueveloping them.
As both Chiistians anu psychologists, we live in two uiffeient enviionments. The ieligious
woilu sometimes blames pioblems on the chilu, saying that it's all in Suzie's sinful natuie.
The counseling woilu sometimes blames the paients, placing all out- of-contiol behaviois
on "what happeneu to Suzie as a chilu." In each case, theie's a cleai goou guy anu theie's a
cleai bau guy.
Neithei of these views is completely accuiate. Actually, the news is woise than that! E.+
C$ /%$ '+(/9 45 $55$3'4/>>9 '.$ %$52>' +* 'C+ *+%#$5F +2% $3:4%+3,$3' anu +2% %$5&+35$5 '+ 4'@
0ui paienting, significant ielationships, anu ciicumstances poweifully shape oui chaiactei
anu attituues. But how we ieact to oui significant ielationships anu ciicumstances
whethei uefensively oi iesponsiblyalso influences what kinu of peison we become.
You may have a chilu with bounuaiy uifficulties, oi you may simply want to help youi chilu
become a iesponsible, honest peison. Eithei way, this book is not intenueu to make you
feel guilty. Rathei, we want to set out the fiist anu most impoitant ingieuient of helping
chiluien leain bounuaiies: a paient with bounuaiies.

E<=2 :A3;> ,C +5?O436S 4< E<=2 /?256436S
Let's not ignoie the ieality that my fiienu Wayne hau pioblems. Anu let's not ignoie that
the pioblems weie Wayne's anu that he neeueu to woik on them. But theie is anothei
piinciple at woik heie: G+2 3$$( '+ 43'$%&%$' / #.4>(H5 <$./:4+% /5 / %$5&+35$ '+ 9+2% +C3 /5
C$>> /5 43 '$%,5 +* .45 ,+'4:$5I 3$$(5I &$%5+3/>4'9I /3( #4%#2,5'/3#$5@ This iequiies a shift in
focus, as we noimally look at a peison's actions in teims of his motives, neeus, peisonality,
anu ciicumstances, not oui own.
Take Wayne, foi example. Ny fiienu was uisiespectful, uniesponsive to authoiity, anu out
of contiol. 0ne might attempt to unueistanu Wayne's behavioi in seveial ways. Be is
impulsive, self-centeieu, oi immatuie. These might all be tiue, but they uon't auuiess his
Wayne was iesponuing to his paients' style of ielating. Be was going as fai as they woulu
allow. Be knew his mothei was impotent anu feaiful of conflict, so he took auvantage of hei
weakness. Be knew that his uau woulu iant anu iave anu that he coulu uo what he wanteu
until Bau blew up. Be unueistoou that, even then, he coulu sliue by his fathei's euict on a
technicality anu go misbehave somewheie else, as Bau most likely woulun't follow up with
a consequence, piefeiiing insteau to go back to his newspapei, feeling justifieu that he hau
set that boy stiaight.
As a iule, chiluien uon't know what they aie uoing. They have little iuea how to hanule life
so that it woiks iight. That's why uou gave them paientsto love them, give them
stiuctuie, anu guiue them into matuiity. So, just as a puppy neeus obeuience tiaining, kius
neeu help fiom the outsiue. Basically, chiluien will matuie to the level the paient
stiuctuies them, anu no highei. The paient's limitations in being able to be iesponsible anu
teach iesponsibility influence how well chiluien leain iesponsibility. Chiluien uon't have it
in them to giow themselves up. They iesponu anu auapt to how they aie paienteu.
The fiist anu most funuamental mental pictuie chiluien have of the way the univeise
opeiates is at home. The home is wheie they foim theii concepts of ieality, love,
iesponsibility, choices, anu fieeuom. So if you ielate to youi chiluien in a way that miiiois
uou's laws, they will make a successful tiansition to the out- siue woilu. But if you piotect
youi chiluien fiom the pain of iiiesponsibility, you set them up foi many stiuggles in
0ne of the most helpful questions paients can ask themselves when faceu with a chilu's
pioblem is not, "Why won't he stop hit- ting his biothei." but "What was my pait in
cieating this pioblem." This may be painful, as it will iequiie youi looking at the plank in
youi eye iathei than the speck of sawuust in youi chilu's (see Natthew 7:1-S). But the
benefit of this appioach is that it takes you out of the futility of tiying to contiol youi chilu
anu into the possibility that you can contiol youi stance with youi chilu.
E<=2 !A255 *K56=5C <D ,6D;=56O5
Theie aie thiee ways you can influence youi kius to uevelop bounuaiies.
89 :&05%,*.
You teach youi chiluien to tie theii shoes, iiue a bike, anu clean theii iooms. You senu them
to school to leain a million facts anu skills. You can also teach them bounuaiiesthe ability
to heai anu say no appiopiiately.

The concepts anu piinciples of bounuaiies aie explicit anu cleai. They aien't vague,
esoteiic iueas; insteau, they aie giounueu in ieality, uou's laws, anu eveiyuay life. As a
iesult, you can uiiectly teach bounuaiies, anu youi chiluien can leain them. You can help
youi chiluien put woius to theii expeiiences, apply youi teaching to new situations, anu
claiify anu mouify the teachings as they giow anu uevelop.
Foi example, uon't be afiaiu to use the woiu <+23(/%9 with youi chilu; it's a useful one.
When she uefiantly iefuses to stop scieaming in angei at you, wait until a calm time latei.
Then say, "}ill, we have a bounuaiy in this house that scieaming is not okay. You can be
angiy, anu talk about youi angei at me, but scieaming botheis people. If you cioss the
bounuaiy of scieaming, the consequence will be losing playtime aftei school foi that uay."
Even fuithei, teach youi chiluien bounuaiy piinciples, not simply piactical applications.
Young chiluien can leain the statement, "You aie iesponsible foi youi behavioi." This
means that they must accept the iesponsibility foi things such as cleaning theii ioom,
getting goou giaues, uisplaying piopei table manneis, anu contiolling tantiums. They will
not be able to blame the lack of accomplishment on anyone else. Bounuaiy concepts like
these can quickly become pait of a family's eveiyuay life, anu chiluien will see the
applications in othei aieas. 0ne foui-yeai-olu boy has saiu to his sibling, "Bon't take that
toy; that's my bounuaiy." Biligently teach these iueas to youi chiluien at theii age-
appiopiiate level (Beuteionomy 6:6-7).
Beie aie some bioau guiuelines foi unueistanuing the uiffeient bounuaiies that apply to
uiffeient age levels in chiluien.
14%'. '+ 'C$>:$ ,+3'.5@ Buiing the fiist yeai of life infants aie bonuing with theii mothei
anu fathei anu establishing basic tiust, so bounuaiies at this age shoulu be veiy minimal.
Infants uo not have enough love oi stiuctuie within them to toleiate a gieat ueal of
fiustiation. Buiing this time of leaining, the mothei neeus to piotect anu nuituie anu meet
the baby's neeus foi com- foit anu love.
J3$ '+ '.%$$ 9$/%5@ Chiluien at this age can leain to iesponu to the woiu 3+ anu can
unueistanu the consequences of theii uisobeuience. This can apply to uangeious situations,
tantiums, violence, anu moie. They may not be able to unueistanu youi logic, but they can
geneially unueistanu that obeying youi no biings goou things anu ignoiing youi no biings
K.%$$ '+ *4:$ 9$/%5@ Buiing this peiiou, chiluien aie moie able to unueistanu the ieasons foi
taking iesponsibility anu what con- sequences aie about. They can talk with you about it.
Leaining how to tieat fiienus kinuly, iesponuing to authoiity, uisagieeing while being
iespectful, anu uoing householu choies aie all a pait of uefining bounuaiies at this stage.
Consequences such as time-outs anu loss of toys, Tv, oi fun activities aie effective at this
L4" '+ $>$:$3 9$/%5@ This stage involves a gieat ueal of inuustiiousness as well as an
incieasing investment in the woilu out- siue the family: school, activities, chuich, anu
fiienus. Bounuaiy issues will ievolve aiounu balancing time at home anu with fiienus,
homewoik anu school tasks, goal oiientation, anu buugeting time anu money.
Consequences can involve iestiictions on fiienuships, fieeuoms, anu home piivileges.

KC$>:$ '+ $4;.'$$3 9$/%5@ Auolescence is the final step befoie auulthoou. It involves tasks
such as soliuifying one's iuentity as uistinct fiom the paients' iuentity, caieei leanings,
sexual matuiation, love choices, anu values. It is also the peiiou in which you shoulu begin
"ue-paienting"moving fiom a position of contiol to one of influence with youi chilu.
When youi chiluien aie teenageis, help them with issues such as ielationships, values,
scheuuling, anu long-teim goals. Pio- viue them with as many natuial consequences as
possible (no money, oi suppoiting the consequences the school metes out, foi example).
0ne thing to iemembei about this stage: The teen who is acting like a thiee-yeai-olu shoulu
not have the fieeuoms eaineu by a matuie teen. Fieeuom comes fiom hanuling
iesponsibility well; it is not a gift bequeatheu by chionological age.
;9 <)4&-,*.
Noueling is uiffeient fiom teaching. Chiluien obseive anu leain fiom how you opeiate with
bounuaiies in youi own woilu. They watch how you tieat them, youi spouse, anu youi
woik. Anu they emulate you, foi goou oi foi bau. They look up to anu want to be like these
laigei, moie poweiful inuiviuuals. By putting on Bau's loafeis oi Nom's lipstick, they aie
tiying on auult ioles to see what fits. In this sense, bounuaiies aie "caught" moie than they
aie "taught."
Noueling goes on all the time, not just when you aie in a "paienting" moue. It occuis
basically any time you aie in eyesight oi eaishot of the chilu. Nany a mothei is uismayeu
when she finus hei chiluien uoing what she uoes, not what she says: "I taught them iight
fiom wiong!" she'll exclaim. Anu she may have, but often hei chilu figuieu out eaily in the
game how his mothei's (oi fathei's) beliefs fit in with hei actions.
0niveisal house iules of conuuct aie a goou example of this. Nany iules of piivilege anu
iesponsibility, such as beutimes anu Tv watching, aie uiffeient foi kius anu auults;
howevei, some iules shoulu apply to all membeis of the family. 0ne illustiation is the iule,
"No one inteiiupts anothei peison who is talking." Paients often feel that what they have to
say is moie impoitant than a chilu's iamblings about what happeneu at school.
Bowevei, if the unueistanuing exists in the family that any membei can confiont anothei
on a univeisal iule, the chilu sees iespect foi otheis moueleu. When little }eiemy can say,
"Nom, you inteiiupteu me," anu Nom can iesponu non-uefensively with, "You'ie iight, son.
Soiiy about that," the chilu is leaining that iespect, owneiship, apologizing, anu iesponuing
to house iules aie things that giown-ups uo.
These aie not only goou, healthy, oi matuie aspects of being an auult, but noims of ieality.
Anu chiluien aie uespeiately looking foi noims on which to hang theii hats. That's why, if
Nom weie insteau to say, "}eiemy, you uon't unueistanu. What I neeueu to say hau to be
saiu because it was veiy, veiy impoitant," }eiemy woulu be just as likely to become
uefensive anu iationalize his behavioi when confionteu on infiactions. M #.4>(H5 3$$( '+
<$>+3; 45 ,+%$ #$3'%/> './3 .45 3$$( '+ <$ ;++(@ If obeying house bounuaiies helps him
belong, so be it. If iebelling against them biings him attention anu belonging, so be it again.
What you mouel is the key.
=9 >&-',*. ?)@( A%,-4 $) !*$&(*0-,B&
To inteinalize something is to make it pait of youiself. It is moie than leaining a fact, anu

uiffeient fiom watching a fact flesheu out. It is making that fact an expeiienceu ieality.
Theie aie two ways to "know" something: intellectually anu expeiientially. You can
memoiize a uefinition of iomantic love, an intellectual "knowing." Falling in love, howevei,
is a much uiffeient mattei, an expeiienceu "knowing."
Ny wife, Baibi, anu I iecently began woiking on financial iesponsibility with oui sons
Ricky, seven, anu Benny, five. We allotteu a small amount of money to them on a weekly
basis, baseu on ceitain choies they weie to uo. Pait of theii income goes to tithing, pait to
savings, anu pait is foi spenuing money.
When the piocess staiteu, the boys thought money giew on tiees. They likeu having it, but
hau no sense of fiscal iesponsibility. To them, it was gieat having money, anu theie woulu
always be moie. Baibi anu I lectuieu them seveial times on saving up foi what they wanteu
anu not spenuing it all at once. It went in one eai anu out the othei. It was not theii fault;
they'u simply hau no expeiience with wanting something anu being bioke.
0ne uay the boys useu all theii spenuing money on a toy they wanteu. A couple of uays
latei, a comic book they hau wanteu foi a long time went on sale, anu they went to theii
spenuing pouches. The pouches hau not ieplenisheu themselves oveinight. They weie
empty. So they went to Nom anu Bau foi help. We saiu, "No gifts, no loans. Eain it at the
usual weekly iate." They then askeu if they coulu uo extia choies. We saiu no.
Then they ciieu. We empathizeu with the loss of the on-sale oppoitunity, but the pouches
stayeu empty. A few houis latei, Benny saiu, "I'm going to wait a long, long, long time next
time." Anu he uiu, anu they uiu. The next payuay, they squiiieleu the spenuing poition
away, talking about how much they weie going to save anu how little they weie going to
spenu. They hau begun to inteinalize the ieality that if you spenu it now, you won't have it
This uiffeience may uismay you, but if you embiace it, youi paienting will flouiish: 6* 9+2%
<+23(/%9 '%/4343; #+3545'5 +3>9 +* C+%(5I 9+2 /%$ C/5'43; 9+2% <%$/'.@ But if you "uo"
bounuaiies with youi kius, they inteinalize the expeiiences, iemembei them, uigest them,
anu make them pait of how they see ieality.
/=2OA?C5 8<=2 O<L8 <D %&'()*+,#- 1,!" G,)- ?4P

1A< !A25B 4A5 -B34OAJ
!"#$%&'$( *%+, '.$ 63'%+(2#'4+3 +* 1+23(/%4$5 C4'. K$$35

I hau known Tievoi since he was six, because oui families ian in the same ciicles. As a
pieteen, he was a noimal kiu, not peifect, but not out of contiol eithei. Be was iespectful of
auults anu fun to be aiounu. Then, when he was thiiteen oi fouiteen, my wife, Baibi, oui
kius, anu I ian into him anu his mom, Beth, at a movie theatei one night, anu we auults
staiteu talking. It wasn't long befoie all of the kius staiteu getting iestless, paiticulaily
Tievoi. Be anu his mom hau a conveisation that went something like this:
"Nom, I wanna go." "}ust a minute, honey." "I saiu I wanna go!" Beth lookeu a little
embaiiasseu anu saiu, "Tievoi, we'ie almost uone talking, okay." "BEY! ISAIBI
WANTT0u0!" People stanuing aiounu in the theatei began looking ovei at oui little
gioup. Bis mom lookeu moitifieu. Bis face was a little flusheu, but he uiun't look at all self-
conscious. Be hau only one thing on his minu getting his mom moving.
She quickly saiu hei goou-byes, anu the two of them left.
This encountei sticks in my minu because of the huge contiast between the Tievoi who
useu to be anu the Tievoi who now was. It was as if a switch hau been thiown. Whatevei
iespect he'u once hau foi his mom, anu likely otheis, hau been gieatly uiminisheu.
Peihaps you can ielate to Beth's expeiience as a paient. You may have an auolescent who,
as a pieteen, was moie compliant anu easiei to connect with. 0i peihaps you saw seeus of
tiouble in youi chilu's pieteen yeais, only to watch those seeus spiout when auolescence
hit. 0i maybe youi chilu uoesn't seem that much uiffeient, just biggei anu stiongei. In any
case, it all points to the ieality that &/%$3'43; '$$35 45 3+' >4N$ &/%$3'43; /' /39 +'.$% /;$I
<$#/25$ #.4>(%$3 #./3;$ (%/,/'4#/>>9 (2%43; '.$4% '$$3/;$ 9$/%5@
!A5 :A?;;56S5C /?2564C <D !556C H?O5
Paients face many uiffeient issues anu stiuggles in theii effoits to paient theii teens
effectively, as uemonstiateu in this list of typical auolescent behaviois:
has a uisiespectful attituue towaiu paients, family, anu otheis challenges iequests oi
is self-absoibeu anu unable to see things fiom anyone else's peispective
is lazy anu caieless about iesponsibilities
has a negative attituue towaiu life, school, oi people
is emotionally withuiawn anu uistant fiom you
has a tenuency to pick fiienus of whom you uisappiove
eiupts in angei that sometimes seems to come out of nowheie lacks motivation foi
school anu fails to maintain giaues neglects home choies anu iesponsibilities
has moou shifts that seem to have neithei ihyme noi ieason
is mean to siblings oi fiienus
lacks inteiest in spiiitual matteis
uetaches fiom family events anu wants to be with fiienus only lies anu is ueceptive
about activities
is physically aggiessive anu violent

is tiuant fiom school oi iuns away
abuses substances alcohol, uiugs, poinogiaphy, anu so on
engages in sexual activity
This list coulu go on, of couise. It's no wonuei that when faceu with one oi seveial of these
pioblems, many paients become uiscouiageu, oveiwhelmeu, oi confuseu about what to uo.
You uon't have to be one of them. If you aie ieauing this book because youi teen exhibits
any of the above behaviois, be encouiageu. These pioblems have solutions. You uon't have
to iesign youiself to simply coping anu suiviving foi the next few yeais. Life with youi teen
can be much bettei than that. You can take some steps that can make majoi uiffeiences in
the tioublesome attituues anu behavioi of youi auolescent.
I have seen many teens become moie iesponsible, happiei, anu bettei piepaieu foi auult
life aftei theii paients began to apply the piinciples anu techniques uiscusseu in this book.
Nany of these teens not only maue positive changes in theii lives, but they also
ieconnecteu with theii paients at levels that the paients hau thought they woulu nevei
expeiience again. These piinciples woikif you woik them.
!556C (55> %<=6>?235C
The pioblems listeu eailiei all have a common founuation: '.$ </''>$ <$'C$$3 '.$ '$$3H5
($54%$ *+% '+'/> *%$$(+, /3( '.$ &/%$3'5H ($54%$ *+% '+'/> #+3'%+>@ All teens want the fieeuom
to uo what they want when they want. They neeu to leain that fieeuom is eaineu anu that
they can gain fieeuom by uemonstiating iesponsibility. Auolescence is the time in life
when kius aie supposeu to leain this lesson.
By the same token, paients neeu to be able to iecognize when they aie being ovei-
contiolling anu when they aie being healthy anu appiopiiate about saying "no." They neeu
to be able to make this uistinction in oiuei to uo theii job: helping teens leain
iesponsibility anu self-contiol so that they use fieeuom appiopiiately anu live well in the
ieal woilu. To uo this, paients must help teens leain bounuaiies.
I cannot oveistate the impoitance of youi iole heie. In the miust of youi teen's uemanus,
tantiums, thieats, anu acting out, youi task is to sift thiough the ciaziness anu lovingly set
fiim, appiopiiate limits. When youi teen behaves iesponsibly, you can loosen the ieins a
little anu giant moie fieeuom. You aie the cleai voice of sanity in youi chilu's woilu. Youi
teen neeus youi voice anu youi help in leaining how to set bounuaiies.
What aie bounuaiies. Simply put, bounuaiies aie one's peisonal piopeity line. They aie
how you uefine youiself, say who you aie anu who you aie not, set limits, anu establish
consequences if people aie attempting to contiol you. When you say "no" to someone's bau
behavioi, you aie setting a bounuaiy. Bounuaiies aie goou foi you anu goou foi the othei
peison, foi bounuaiies help people claiify what they aie anu aie not iesponsible foi in life.
Because of all the uevelopmental changes teens aie going thiough, they often uon't have
goou contiol ovei theii behavioi, a cleai sense of iesponsibility foi theii actions, oi much
self-uiscipline anu stiuctuie. Insteau, they often show uisiespect of authoiity (as in
Tievoi's case), impulsiveness, iiiesponsibility, misbehavioi, anu eiiatic behavioi. They aie,
as the Bible uesciibes it, "like a wave of the sea, blown anu tosseu by the winu."
Teens neeu to uevelop goou bounuaiies in oiuei to make it successfully thiough this
season of life. Bealthy bounuaiies give them the stiuctuie, self-contiol, anu sense of
owneiship they neeu to figuie out all theii "who am I." questions anu to ueal with the
physiological anu uevelopmental changes they aie expeiiencing.

Bounuaiies function somewhat like the tiunk of a tiee. The tiunk holus the leaves, fiuit,
anu ioots togethei. Bowevei, all tiees with stiong tiunks staiteu out as weak saplings.
They neeueu to be tieu to a stake because they coulun't yet hanule theii own weight. They
neeueu to lean on anu be suppoiteu by something outsiue themselves. Then, in time, the
tiees matuieu anu took ovei that job foi themselves.
The piocess of ueveloping bounuaiies is similai. Teens can't cieate theii own "tiunks."
They uon't have the necessaiy tools to become iesponsible, thoughtful, anu empathetic
with otheis. Like a tiee sapling, they neeu help fiom outsiue themselves. Paients aie the
stake foi theii teens. They aie the tempoiaiy exteinal stiuctuie teens neeu in theii last
launch into ieal life. When paients tell teens the tiuth, set limits, establish cuifews,
confiont misbehavioi, anu uo a host of othei things, they aie pioviuing a stiuctuie anu
helping teens to uevelop a stiuctuie. If all goes well, teens will ultimately anu safely uiscaiu
theii paients' stiuctuie anu, using theii own stiuctuie, be able to meet the uemanus of
auult life anu iesponsibility.
Anu that is the puipose of this book, to show you how to help youi auolescent shouluei
iesponsibility foi hei actions, attituues, anu speech so that she leains the gift of self-contiol
anu owneiship ovei hei life. The whole piocess staits with you, the paient. So in this book
you will leain a ueceptively simple skill that all paients of teens neeu: knowing C.$3 '+ 5/9
G$5I /3( .+C '+ 5/9 O+I that is how to implement anu enfoice healthy, loving bounuaiies
with youi auolescent.
Aftei ieauing this you may think, 6 (+3H' %$/>>9 ./:$ ;++( <+23(/%4$5 $4'.$%@ P+C #/3 6
(45&$35$ C./' 6 (+3H' &+55$55Q That is a common anu impoitant concein. A teen without
bounuaiies neeus a paient with bounuaiies. You'll finu help foi how to uo this in the fiist
pait of this book, which teaches anu equips you to uevelop youi own peisonal limits so that
you can tiansmit what you know anu who you aie to youi teen.
,C ,4 !<< 0?45J
Nany paients of teens, awaie that they aie in the last stage of paienting, wonuei if theie is
still time to help theii kiu leain iesponsibility anu self-contiol. "Naybe I shoulu just hang
on anu tiy to get thiough it," they say. That is often a sign of weaiiness anu giving up
piematuiely. In most cases, howevei, I woulu say that .$/>'.9 <+23(/%4$5 #/3 ,/N$ /
54;34*4#/3' (4**$%$3#$@
Remembei the stoiy of Beth anu Tievoi. Beth iefuseu to give up, anu because of this the
stoiy has a goou enuing. Beth calleu me a few uays latei, saying, "I'm suie you hate to have
people ask you foi auvice about this soit of thing, but I woulu like some about Tievoi."
"Well," I saiu, "I woulu piobably begin by iealizing that whatevei you'ie uoing now to ueal
with Tievoi's attituue isn't woiking."
"That's no pioblem foi me," saiu Beth. "I've tiieu eveiything anyway."
"Aie you suie." I queiieu. "Ny hunch is that the 'eveiything' you have tiieu eithei isn't
eveiything, oi it hasn't been uone the iight way, oi you haven't tiieu long enough. Tievoi
uoesn't seem to expeiience any concein about taking iesponsibility foi his actions. In fact,
you aie the one talking to me about Tievoi, not Tievoi. So you aie moie conceineu than he

Beth ieplieu, "I uon't think Tievoi even iemembeis what he uiu."
"In that case," I saiu, "I iecommenu that you stait uoing some things that will help Tievoi
be moie conceineu about his attituues anu actions." Then I explaineu to hei the key
piinciples that aie in this book. Anu ovei time, as Beth began to apply them, Tievoi's
behaviois anu speech began to change foi the bettei. Be still isn't a peifect teen
whatevei that is! but his mannei anu actions aie much healthiei anu moie iesponsible.
So uon't give up. At this stage in life, youi teen neeus an involveu paient who has goou
I say this foi seveial ieasons. Fiist, even though teens aie systematically uetaching fiom
theii paients anu moving into the woilu, at some level, '.$9 /%$ 5'4>> ($&$3($3' +3 '.$4%
&/%$3'5@ They cannot function in the woilu on theii own. Whethei they iecognize it, teens
still neeu some impoitant things fiom paients, such as:

uiace, unconuitional love, anu compassion when the teen is huit, failing, oi bewilueieu

uuiuance conceining school, college, anu caieei

Wisuom foi how to navigate ielationship pioblems

Belp in iomantic entanglements

Teens also neeu the safety, stiuctuie, anu waimth of a loving home that offeis them
piotection when neeueu.

I have talkeu to many young auults who have tolu me, "When I was a teenagei, I acteu like
my paients hau nothing to say to me. I coulun't affoiu to act uiffeiently. But insiue, it
matteieu a lot what they saiu."
Seconu, '$$35 (+ 3+' ./:$ '+'/> *%$$(+, /3( &$%,4554+3@ Pait of that fieeuom belongs to the
paients. Teens aie ceitainly in the last stage of chiluhoou anu shoulu be becoming moie
anu moie autonomous. But they uon't yet have the iights anu piivileges of an auult. Foi
example, they still neeu paiental peimission to go to ceitain movies anu to sign off on
school outings. This is goou news because / '$$3H5 3$$( *+% &/%$3'/> &$%,4554+3 #/3 <$
>$:$%/;$( '+ ,+'4:/'$ .$% '+ >$/%3 %$5&+354<4>4'9@ That is why withholuing piivileges can be
veiy effective. Some paients neeu to take back some piivileges. We will uiscuss this
impoitant aspect latei.
Thiiu, '.$ '4,$ 4' '/N$5 '+ *4" ,/''$%5 453H' 3$#$55/%4>9 '.$ 5/,$ /,+23' +* '4,$ 4' '++N *+%
'.43;5 '+ ;+ C%+3;@ Some paients think, 6 ./( 3+ <+23(/%4$5 *+% *4*'$$3 9$/%5I /3( 3+C 6 ./:$
'.%$$ 9$/%5 >$*'@ 6 (+3H' ./:$ /3+'.$% *4*'$$3 '+ (+ 4' %4;.'I 5+ C.9 '%9Q This assumes a one-to-
one coiiesponuence of ineffective-to-effective paienting.
Actually, it's not like that at all, because it's not that simple. People can take less time to
change than you might think. Theie aie othei factois involveu, such as the appiopiiateness,
consistency, anu intensity of youi actions; the involvement of otheis; anu the ieauiness of
the chilu's inteinal woilu.
People in theii seventies anu eighties sometimes wake up to how they aie being selfish oi
iiiesponsible. You can't pieuict how telling the tiuth anu establishing healthy bounuaiies
will affect a teen, noi can you pieuict when the change will occui. I have seen paients with

a seventeen- yeai-olu who woulu be moving out in a few weeks still make significant
inioaus with a iebellious anu uestiuctive attituue. Bon't let youi feais anu uiscouiagement
limit a piocess of giowth that uou uesigneu foi youi chilu. Sometimes the iight
inteivention, given at the iight time, with the iight people, can make all the uiffeience in
the woilu.

/=2OA?C5 8<=2 O<L8 <D %&'()*+,#- 1,!" !##(- ?4P

)<6N4 H?;; 36 0<K5 B34A -<Q5<65 E<= 1<=;>6N4 %5 H2356>C 134A
!"#$%&'$( *%+, -./&'$% R +* 1+23(/%4$5 43 S/'43;

It seems like you anu Bennis aie becoming an item," I (Bi. Clouu) saiu to Stephanie. We hau
tiieu to get togethei to catch up foi a while, anu each time she hau been uoing something
with Bennis.

"No," she ieplieu. "I just like hanging out with him. We enjoy a lot of the same things, anu
have some wonueiful talks. But he's just a fiienu."

"Why isn't he moie." I askeu.

"0h, I uon't know. Whatevei that 'thing' is that attiacts you to someoneI just uon't have it
with Bennis. But I uo like him a lot anu like being his fiienu."

"I can appieciate that," I saiu. "Not eveiyone is meant to fall in love. Bo you have the 'thing'
you uesciibe happening somewheie."

"Yeah, I uo." I coulu tell as she saiu yes that not all was well with whomevei the "thing" was
with. "Bis name is Ryan, anu I have been uating him about thiee months. I have the 'thing'
with him; that is, I am ieally attiacteu to him in the moie-than-fiienus kinu of way. But
theie aie some issues."

"What uo you mean." I askeu.

"Well, I uon't know how to uesciibe it. I am so uiawn to him in a physical, iomantic kinu of
way. Not that we aie sleeping togethei, but a lot of physicality in the ielationship. Anu I
have a lot of 'falling in love feelings.' But theie is not a lot moie than that when I ieally look
at it. We ieally uon't talk a lot about seiious things. It is just this uynamic anu longing to be
with him that I can't ieally explain.

"Then theie aie some things about him that I ieally woulu not noimally choose. Be is not
that ueep spiiitually, anu he seems kinu of uiiven in some othei ways. Anu sometimes he
ieally uoes not communicate. But I know that I am falling foi him in some way that I can't
uesciibe," she saiu. "I feel some soit of aliveness when I am with him. Theie is a ueep pait
of me that he gets to, even though we have kinu of a shallow ielationship. Boesn't make
sense, huh."

"Sounus like to me that you feel you aie 'in love' with Ryan, but have a lot moie of a ieal
ielationship with Bennis," I obseiveu. "In fact, it sounus like to me that you neeu to finu
someone that you have both of those things with. The ueep connection anu ability to shaie
things that mattei, communicate, anu have fun like with Bennis, anu also the spaik anu
chemistiy that you have with Ryan."

"Yeah. That woulu be nice. But, I have nevei founu them togethei in the same one." She
sounueu almost weaiy as she uesciibeu hei uilemma.

* :<QQ<6 /2<7;5Q
Nany singles we've known shaie Stephanie's pioblem. Peihaps you uo too. You may be
attiacteu to one kinu of peison, but finu that you aie bettei fiienus with anothei type, anu
actually have moie of a ielationship with the "fiienu" than the one you aie attiacteu to. In a
lot of cases, like Stephanie's, you simply finu that the peison you aie attiacteu to is not able
to connect with all aieas of youi life. But in othei cases it is much moie than that.
Sometimes you aie attiacteu to someone who is not goou foi you at all.

You may have all soits of longings anu chemistiy with someone who is not only lacking
some abilities, but also has some pietty uestiuctive things about hei chaiactei. She may be
self-centeieu, ueceptive in some way, ciitical, contiolling, oi ignoiing of youi neeus. You
woulu nevei choose that kinu of peison as a fiienu, because you woulu have veiy little in
common, anu woulu not want to have to ueal with all of hei pioblems. Still, you finu
youiself uespeiately attiacteu to oi falling foi someone who is just that way. Anu then,
fuithei on in the ielationship, the ueepei pioblems will suiface anu you will finu that the
ielationship has no lasting substance. Neveitheless, even then, you finu it uifficult to get out
of the ielationship because you have such a stiong attiaction to that peison.

!A5 -L;34
0ne uay we weie uoing a iauio show on uating, anu a woman calleu in with the above
pioblem. She saiu that theie weie two kinus of men in the woilu. 0ne was the attiactive
type that hau no chaiactei, anu the othei was the kinu with goou chaiactei anu spiiitual
uepth but no attiactiveness. "What shoulu I uo." she askeu.

"Bave you evei thought that theie might not ieally be two types in the woilu like you have
uesciibeu." we askeu. "But that this might have something to uo with you. Naybe you aie
attiacteu to shallow oi uestiuctive guys foi a ieason. Anu maybe you block those feelings of
attiaction foi the goou ones."

"No. It is not that at all. Theie ieally aie only two types of men in the woilu. Theie aie the
goou-looking, stiong, attiactive ones, anu then theie aie the goou guys who aie not that
exciting. I have seen it ovei anu ovei," she aigueu anu went on moie auamantly than

"So you aie telling us that theie is not one attiactive man that has uepth anu spiiitual
qualities about him in the whole woilu. Anu that none of those who uo have goou uepth
anu chaiactei aie attiactive in any way, shape, oi foim." we claiifieu, just to help hei see
how foolish she sounueu.

"That is exactly iight," she saiu. "I have been uating foi a long time anu that is exactly what
is out theie."

"Well, in that case, I guess we will have to see if you aie iight. 0kay, Southein Califoinia,"
we saiu to oui listeneis. "We woulu like all of you singles to uiive to oui stuuio iight now
anu get in two lines. If you aie attiactive in any way, get in one line, anu if you have any
uepth to youi chaiactei, spiiitual life, oi peisonality, get in the othei. Then, maybe what we
coulu uo is paii you off anu get you to help each othei out. The ugly, ueep ones coulu
uisciple the beautiful people, anu the beautiful people coulu give some tips on style,

chaiisma, anu othei things to the monks anu nuns. Then maybe the two gioups coulu
become moie one, anu we coulu get some ielationships going heie."

It tuineu out to be an amazing show. We weie theie foi foui houis taking calls about this
pioblem. Foitunately, not eveiyone was as blinu to theii own iesponsibility in the issue as
the fiist callei. They coulu see that theie was moie to the uynamic than some soit of
exteinal explanation like she came up with of theie being two types of men in the woilu.

Anu we hau a veiy stimulating time looking at the things that cause this kinu of pioblem,
because it is a veiy iesolvable one, anu one that we see people giow out of all the time. We
love it when we see a peison who has stiuggleu in this aiea come in anu say, "I finally founu
someone who has all that I have lookeu foi." What a iewaiuing thing foi spiiitual anu
peisonal giowth that is.

Beie is what we tell singles who have this pioblem:

1. If you aie attiacteu to someone who uoes not possess the chaiactei anu fiienuship
qualities that you neeu in a long-teim ielationship, uo not think that you aie going to
change him oi hei. Someone has to go ueepei because he oi she wants to. uet iiu of false

2. See this as a pioblem. If you see a pattein, uo not continue to think that the pioblem is all
exteinal to you, that you just "have not founu the iight one." We heai so many excuses by
people who uo not want to see that they have a pattein that they neeu to examine
iegaiuing the way that they see people, oi the people they attiact, oi the ones that they aie
attiacteu to.

S. Aie you confusing longing foi "being in love". Nany times people long foi a ceitain kinu
of fantasy peison anu confuse this ueep longing as being in love. Remembei, love satisfies.
It uoes not leave you iomantically pining.

4. Aie you confusing infatuation with love. Infatuation is a piojection of neeus anu
iuealizeu fantasies onto a peison that have little to uo with who that peison ieally is. Nany
times people come up with a kinu of peison who symbolizes a lot of things that they neeu
oi iuealize anu feel that they aie falling in love with someone when in ieality it is a fantasy
that will not last. Remembei the phiase "in fat you ate." Infatuation is veiy similai to high-
fat fast foou. No lasting nutiitional value!

S. Then make suie that you talk to someone else about these issues. Benial is moie uifficult
to maintain if you aie talking to someone anu confessing what is tiue. Finu an
accountability system to holu you to the bounuaiy of not letting youiself go too fai into an
unsounu ielationship.

M<+:$ />>, uo eveiything possible to make youiself awaie of the ieality of the peison you
aie uiawn to anu the ielationship that you have. Ask youiself:

- Bo you feel like all of youi paits aie being ielateu to.
- Can you shaie all of youi values.
- Is the spiiitual commitment the same.

- Aie theie chaiactei tiaits that you finu youiself ignoiing, uenying, oi excusing.
- In shoit, woulu you pick this peison as a fiienu.

Consiuei if you woulu like spenuing time with if theie weie no iomance at all. That is the
one tiue measuie of a fiienu, a peison with whom you like to spenu time, having no iegaiu
to how you aie spenuing it. "Banging out" is fulfilling in anu of itself. Anu that, long-teim,
iequiies chaiactei, anu in the ueepest of fiienuships, shaieu values as well. You woulu
want youi best fiienus to be honest, faithful, ueep, spiiitual, iesponsible, connecting,
giowing, loving, anu the like. Keep youi bounuaiies. Nake suie that those qualities aie also
piesent in the peison you aie falling in love with too!

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Recently I was uiscussing similai people issues with anothei CE0. I askeu him why he
thought those pioblems weie theie. Be talkeu about some ieasons, most of which hau to uo
with the vaiious playeis involveu, anu also the constellations of a few teams. But then I
askeu him a simple question.

"Anu why is that." I askeu.
"What uo you mean. I think it is the ieasons I just saiu."
"I know the ieasons you saiu, but why uo those ieasons exist." I continueu.
"I uon't get it. . . . What uo you mean." he askeu fuithei.
"Who is the leauei. Who is in chaige of the cultuie. Who is in chaige of the ways that it is
woiking, the fact that all of that exists." I pusheu.
Be just lookeu at me, anu nouueu. "I am," he saiu.
"So what kinu of cultuie woulu you like." I askeu. "What kinu of cultuie woulu uiive the
business foiwaiu if you hau it."

When he thought about that, he lookeu upwaiu, lost in thought foi a moment. Then he got
out of the "pioblem-speak" moue, anu I coulu see a shift in his eneigy as a new vision of a
uiffeient cultuie spiang to life in his eyes. Be began to uesciibe a company cultuie that was
positive, highly eneigetic, accountable, innovative, anu peifoimance oiienteu. Be came
alive when he talkeu about it.

"So why uon't you builu that kinu of cultuie." I askeu.

Foi a nanoseconu it seemeu like he was about to ieflexively bluit out a ieason why it coulu
not happen, but then he pauseu anu saiu something I will nevei foiget: "You know, when
you think about it . . . I am iiuiculously in chaige."

At that point, I knew he got it. Be iealizeu that he woulu have exactly the cultuie that he
cieates anu woulu not have the one he uiu not allow to exist. Whatevei cultuie he got, he
was eithei builuing it oi allowing it. Be was "iiuiculously in chaige," that is, "totally in
chaige," anu at that moment, he owneu it. It was his. It was tiuly up to him. As a leauei, he
was going to get what he built, oi what he alloweu.

%<=6>?235CP 1A?4 8<= :25?45 ?6> 1A?4 8<= *;;<B
What aie bounuaiies. They aie maue up of two essential things: what you cieate anu what
you allow. A "bounuaiy" is a piopeity line. It uefines wheie youi piopeity begins anu enus.
If you think about youi home, on youi piopeity, you can uefine what is going to happen
theie, anu what is not. You aie "iiuiculously in chaige" of the vision, the people you invite
in, what the goals anu puiposes aie going to be, what behavioi is going to be alloweu anu
what isn't. You builu anu allow the cultuie. It is all youis. You set the agenua, anu you make
the iules. Anu what you finu theie, you own. It is youi cieation oi youi allowances that
have maue it be. Simply stateu, the leaueis' bounuaiies uefine anu shape what is going to
be anu what isn't.

In the enu, as a leauei, you aie always going to get a combination of two things:
what you cieate anu what you allow.

I was leauing an offsite foi a health caie company iecently about a iange of leaueiship
issues, anu the uiiectoi of BR askeu a key question. "So, how can you know if the pioblem
is about the leauei, oi the followei." Be went on to talk about "pioblem employees," who
uon't peifoim oi who aie uifficult. "Theie is such a thing as a 'followei' who isn't getting it,
iight." he saiu.

"Suie," I saiu. "But on whose watch. In whose cultuie. Who built the team that allows that.
Who is ovei that employee that is a 'pioblem'. Anu who is ovei the employee that allows
employees like that to be that way. Anu if that employee is confuseu about the stiategy oi
uiiection, who is it that sets that stiategy anu uiiection foi theii team oi the oiganization.
In the language of apple, 'Who is the BRI, the uiiectly iesponsible inuiviuual.'"

1A< <B6C 34J
It is a cential piinciple of bounuaiies: owneiship. 0ltimately, leaueis own it. They aie the
ones who uefine anu cieate the bounuaiies that uiive the behavioi that foims the iuentity
of teams anu cultuie anu sets the stanuaius of peifoimance. Leaueis uefine the uiiection
anu aie iesponsible foi making it happen. Anu they aie iesponsible foi the accountability
systems that ensuie that it uoes happen. It always comes back to leaueiship anu the
bounuaiies they allow to exist on theii piopeity. Leaueis uefine the bounuaiies, anu
successful leaueis uefine them well in seveial key aieas:

The vision, the focus, the attention, anu the activities that cieate foiwaiu movement aie
uefineu by leaueis.
The emotional climate of the oiganization anu its cultuie is cieateu anu sustaineu by
The unity anu connecteuness of the oiganization anu the teams aie built oi fiagmenteu
by leaueis.
The thinking anu beliefs of the oiganization aie sown anu giown by leaueis.
The amount anu kinus of contiol anu empoweiment that people have aie given anu
iequiieu by leaueis.
The peifoimance anu uevelopment of theii teams anu uiiect iepoits aie stewaiueu by
The leaueiship of oneself, which entails establishing one's own bounuaiies anu
stewaiuship of the oiganization, is iequiieu by leaueis.

Leaueis, thiough a hanuful of essential bounuaiies, make suie ceitain things happen,
pievent othei things fiom happening, anu keep it all moving foiwaiu. In the chapteis that
follow, I will show you how leaueis establish intentional bounuaiies that cieate
oiganizations wheie people's biains actually can woik anu biing about iesults. We will also
see an impoitant "negative" function of the leauei's bounuaiiesthat is, what a leauei has
to "not allow." What the leauei has to say no to anu how to pievent those things fiom
existing in the oiganization. Leaueis aie a positive foice foi goou anu a negative foice
against bau. You know what they aie foi anu what they aie against.

Positively, they establish intentional stiuctuies, values, noims, piactices, anu uisciplines
that builu what they uesiie. as we shall see, they figuie out what shoulu be attenueu to that
will actually tuin theii vision into ieality, anu they keep theii people, teams, anu
oiganizations focuseu on those things anu away fiom uistiactions. They builu the

emotional climate that will motivate, empowei, anu unify theii people. They act as
guaiuians of the belief systems that uistinguish the cultuie, making suie that it is optimistic
anu eneigizing. They help theii people uefine what they have contiol ovei that will uiive
iesults anu empowei them to take action. They builu healthy, well-aligneu teams with
values anu behaviois to uiive iesults.

Negatively, they set limits on confusion anu uistiaction. They piohibit piactices anu
behaviois that sow the seeus of a negative emotional climate in any way, iealizing that
toxic behavioi anu emotions impeue high peifoimance. They uisallow silos, compaitmen-
talization, inuiviuual agenuas, fiagmentation, isolation, oi uivisions among theii people. In
theii push foi empoweiment anu foi people taking contiol anu iesponsibility, they uo not
toleiate negativity, helplessness, poweilessness, oi victimhoou. They uo not allow teams to
uevelop uysfunctional patteins that keep them fiom moving foiwaiu, anu they immunize
theii teams against failuie. Anu they make suie that nothing exists in theii cultuie that
woiks against the vision anu the uiive foi iesults, oi against people being uevelopeu into
all that they can be.

H<O=C ?6> #652S8
But this positive anu negative bounuaiy-setting uoes not happen by itself. It takes eneigy
anu focus. As one founuei of a veiy successful enteipiise uesciibeu it to me:
When I staiteu my oiganization, no one tolu me that half of my eneigy woulu be spent
actually builuing anu leauing it anu the othei half, oi even moie, woulu be spent piotecting
anu uefenuing it against all of the things othei people wanteu it to be. It takes a feiocious
amount of spinal foitituue to not enu up making a ciappy mix of youi vision anu enuless
bits anu sciaps fiom otheis who uiun't have the cojones to stait something themselves.

Well saiu. You uon't want a "ciappy mix" of youi vision plus bits anu sciaps fiom otheis
that uon't quite fit. In fact, you uon't have to settle foi a ianuom mix at all. 0nce you come
to appieciate that you aie tiuly "iiuiculously in chaige," you can establish anu iealize the
vision that you have foi youi company, youi team, youi uepaitment, youi pioject, oi
whatevei else you leau. Whethei you aie the CE0 oi leau a small woik team, you aie
iiuiculously in chaige if you aie the leauei. Anu you can ceitainly piotect it anu uefenu it
against that which woulu infect it, ueiail it, oi biing it uown. You will get what you cieate
anu what you allow. Youi bounuaiies will uefine anu make that happen as you step up anu
set them.

You may be beginning to leau something new, oi you may be focusing on tuining
something aiounu anu making it bettei. A leauei's cleai bounuaiies aie often what an
oiganization is waiting foi, anu when it happens, it can cieate the most valuable company
in the woilu. When a leauei steps up anu leaus, anu sets bounuaiies that pioviue claiity
that cuts thiough the noise, it is a new uay.

Foi example, when Steve }obs ietuineu to apple as CE0, the company was in tiouble. Aftei
uiagnosing the pioblem as a lack of focus anu by piuning 7u peicent of apple's mouels anu
piouucts, }obs biought the company a much-neeueu moment of claiity thiough setting a
positive bounuaiy.

Aftei a few weeks, }obs finally hau enough. "Stop!" he shouteu at one big piouuct stiategy
session. "This is ciazy." Be giabbeu a Nagic Naikei, pauueu to a whiteboaiu, anu uiew a

hoiizontal anu veitical line to make a foui-squaieu chait. "Beie's what we neeu," he
continueu. Atop the two columns he wiote "Consumei" anu "Pio"; he labeleu the two iows
"Besktop" anu "Poitable." Theii job, he saiu, was to make foui gieat piouucts, one foi each
quauiant. "The ioom was in uumb silence," Schillei iecalleu.*
* Waltei Isaacson, Steve }obs (new Yoik: Simon & Schustei, 2u11).

In my view, the silence came fiom the piofounu claiity that such a positive bounuaiy
cieates. Fiom that point on, when it came to making computeis, apple employees knew
what they weie sup- poseu to be woiking on as well as what they weie not supposeu to be
woiking on. }obs helpeu them "attenu" to what was impoitant, anu "inhibiteu" eveiything
else. Be saiu that he was as piouu of what apple "uiun't make" as he was of what they uiu

The veiy cleai bounuaiy }obs set uefineu the puipose anu the focus of all of apple's effoits
going foiwaiu. Thiough the act of setting such a bounuaiy, }obs gave his people the
fieeuom to focus. They weie no longei pulleu in a thousanu uiffeient uiiections quite the
opposite fiom the conuitions Chiis's actions hau stimulateu at his company. Besiues giving
uiiection, goou leaueiship bounuaiies also establish the noims anu behaviois that uiive
success. They builu unity anu eneigy. They focus that eneigy anu attention on what is
impoitant. They builu optimism anu empowei people to uo what they tiuly have the powei
to uo to uiive iesults. They set the conuitions anu stanuaius foi gieat teams anu cultuie, as
we shall see.

0n the flip siue, goou leaueiship bounuaiies uiminish bau behavioi anu foige an immune
system that automatically iuentifies, isolates, anu stamps out toxins, infections, oi othei
viial patteins that woulu make the oiganization sick oi leau it away fiom its values,
mission, puipose, anu iesults. Stiong leaueis set up the kinu of cultuie anu stiuctuies that
will ueal with negative behavioi quickly anu effectively so that it nevei takes ioot. If you
tiuly builu a high- peifoimance cultuie, foi example, it will not allow weak peifoimance oi
nonpeifoimance to take holu. Insteau the cultuie iesponus by eithei fixing it oi iemoving
the souice. All of that flows out of the bounuaiies establisheu by the leauei.

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