Relationships can be fortifying or destructive. They can make life easier or they can make life infinitely more difficult. Much of what gets in the way of having positive relationships has to do with relationship boundaries. Well-meaning people who fail to realize that you have your own way of doing things can actually cause a lot more harm than good in your life by “meddling” in your affairs. And there are two sides to this kind of situation. Of course, the meddler feels entitled to take some measure of control over your life. But, if you allow another person to “meddle” in your life, then you are party to problems that develop as a result.
The difference between meddling and listening to a friend or a close family member is not well-defined, but you can definitely feel it when someone oversteps their “boundaries” with you. Some people like to have a few meddlesome friends on hand to give advice and sometime even take the wheel for them. Other people are perturbed even if friends offer a little advice about a problem. No matter whether you’re the meddler or the meddlee, there are boundary issues happening in the relationship.
In foster parenting, it’s important to have “healthy” boundaries with birth parents. It isn’t wise to meddle in your birth parent’s affairs unless they invite you too. And even with an invitation, it may be best to allow the birth parents to learn to steer the wheel of their own car so that they can do it effectively when they get custody of your foster child again. It may be tempting to try to help the birth parents, but this isn’t your job. There are a number of people on a team who are trying to help the birth parents. It’s your job to make sure you’re effectively parenting your foster children.
On the other side of the coin, you may encounter birth parents who wish to meddle in your family’s affairs. They may initially just seem like friendly people. Don’t give away a lot of information about yourself when you are first getting to know birth parents. Refrain from giving out your telephone number or physical address until you’ve met with these people a number of times and you feel comfortable giving it to them. Your foster children need you to keep your boundaries up in order to keep them safe.
Maintaining positive relationship boundaries from the very beginning with birth parents is important. Don’t be stand-offish with birth parents but don’t be overly self-disclosing either. Give the relationship and your perception of the birth parents some time to evolve before you invite these people into your life. Boundaries are there to maintain your control over your home and your life. Holding onto the reigns with your foster child’s birth parents will help you navigate your foster child more effectively in coping with difficult behaviors or situations if they arise. Keep your boundaries healthy with birth parents to prevent yourself from giving away the control that you have over your family and your home.