The Key to a Healthy Family, Part 2: Boundaries, Protecting Your Identity
Boundaries are like invisible fences that surround us and our family. They regulate the amount of contact we have with others. They define who we are as well as protect our separateness and autonomy. We are one as a family unit, but each family member is a separate person. Because of who we are, we have different beliefs, values, opinions, and responsibilities. In a Christian family these would basically be anchored in a personal relationship with God and in the teaching of His Word. But even when this is true, there will be many areas of difference. Family members may have different beliefs about the Rapture or the Second Coming of Christ or what personality traits they value in a spouse or best friend, as well as differing opinions on a variety of topics. They can define themselves as one family but in so doing they do not surrender their personal identity. Each one has boundaries, invisible fences, that protect their identity and enable them to make decisions in life on their own.
Each family member has boundaries, invisible fences, that protect their identity and enable them to make decisions in life on their own.
The family is like the body as described in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body” (NIV).
The body is one but it is made up of different members. As the eye and the ear differ in the human body, so it is in the body of Christ as each member has a different function and identity. As the hand is different from the eye, so the different family members are different from one another with different roles, personalities, and giftedness. Yet they form one family.
If our boundaries as a family or as individuals are too rigid, people cannot get close. If they are too diffuse then people can get too close and control and over-influence a person so much so that the person loses his or her identity.
These are crucial issues today as far as evaluating the healthy functioning of individuals and families. By God’s grace, this book will help each family and each family member grow in their spiritual and emotional health. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). Love, power, and a sound mind, both in the family unit and individual family members, glorify God.
Copyright 1994 Church Growth Institute/ChurchGrowth.org, adapted from the book Building Family Values through the Tools of Bonding and Boundaries by Drs. Rodney and Nancy Dean. This and other resources on families and relationships can be found on ChurchGrowth.org, category Marriage & Relationships.