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Six Things: A Formula for Creating Healthy Boundaries

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When I discovered the Six Things in Dr. Glasser’s The Control Theory Manager, I introduced it to the parents in the parent group who used it to bring about meaningful and lasting change in their homes.

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What follows is an example of the Six Things that I created for myself in relation to the parents in the group, but I can’t imagine a relationship where you couldn’t apply this.

Who I am

In March of 2003, as a desperate single mother of six (the full story is contained elsewhere), I was introduced to a parent support group based on Choice Theory which teaches that we can learn more effective behaviours to gain more control in our lives and improve our relationships with those closest to us.

For the first time, I was with people who understood what I was going through. These were people who listened and guided, but never judged me. And for the first time in a long time, I had a safe place and safe people I could turn to.

Within a year, things had changed so much that I went on to study Choice Theory and help other parents who were as desperate as I had been.

In 2007, I wrote a booklet entitled Who’s Driving YOUR Car? – inspired by a weekly teen discussion group on Choice Theory that I had facilitated for two years.

What I stand for

I believe in working to be the kind of person I would want to be around. And I believe in taking risks because I’ll never know what I’m capable of if I don’t try.

What I will do for you

  • I will share with you all I can.
  • I will coach and mentor you to take charge of your life.
  • I will coach and mentor you to improve your relationships with everyone – especially with yourself.
  • I will respect your beliefs, your opinions and your path.
  • I will encourage you to question all you learn and all you do, and to think for yourself.
  • I will support you in any and all responsible choices.
  • I will listen to understand – not to correct you.
  • I will accept you without judgment, as a unique and worthwhile human being.
  • I will trust you to always do the best you can with what you know.
  • To the best of my ability, I will model what I teach.
  • To the best of my ability, I will create an environment where you feel safe, valued and heard.

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What I won’t do for you

  • I won’t do your thinking for you.
  • I won’t make your decisions for you.
  • I won’t do your work for you.

What I will ask you to do

  • Attend.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Treat others in the group the way you’d like them to treat you.
  • Participate – even if it seems risky to do so.
  • Challenge me. It’s not about who’s right. It’s about what we can learn from each other.
  • Follow through on any commitments.

What I won’t ask you to do

  • Believe anything I say.
  • Do as I say.
  • Compromise your values and principles.

If you decide to embark on this adventure in setting boundaries, give yourself time to consider and reflect. It’s not a quick process, but it’s certainly worth it. And then share it with your kids – or keep it to yourself as a gentle reminder.

If you’d like to know more about Choice Theory, email me at sue@sanerparenting.ca and I’ll send you PDFs of the booklet Who’s Driving YOUR Car? and the handout Six Things: How to create healthy boundaries. And, as always, I welcome your questions and comments.

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