Setting Boundaries for Yourself in an Immigrant Household
By Sumaya Ahmed
As first-generation children, we have different values and outlooks on life compared to those of our immigrant parents and ancestors. This may cause difficulty when trying to set new boundaries with them, but don’t allow the difficulty to prevent you from placing healthy boundaries for yourself. The more you pour into your own cup, the more you can support the ones you love. Setting boundaries will allow you to show up more fully for your family without psychological, emotional and/or physical burnout.
Being raised in a Bangladeshi home often meant that boundaries were barely taught or executed throughout one’s childhood or upbringing. Therefore, we are probably not aware of what boundaries are, why they are important for us and what they could mean for us. This is mainly because our parents, elders and ancestors often did not set boundaries for themselves. Why are boundaries important and how do we set boundaries in our immigrant homes?
Boundaries are important because they enable you to be a better version of yourself. They allow you to live this life for you and not for anyone else around you. That may be very difficult in an immigrant home when you constantly want to please your loved ones. However, setting boundaries is an essential part of practicing self-care and self-love. It is a way of understanding your own needs and how to communicate them to others. The consequences of not setting boundaries can be detrimental: your mental health is negatively impacted and your ability to become the best version of yourself is impacted.
How do we set boundaries in our immigrant homes? The first step is to get in touch with your ideal self. Recognizing yourself may take some time, especially while living in an immigrant home. Take a moment to evaluate what makes you happy. Ask yourself, if you could shut out society, your family and the world, what are the things you would do for yourself to align with your ultimate happiness?
Next, rediscover your purpose. Knowing your purpose in life is one of the fundamental factors of happiness. Your life’s purpose consists of the core motivation of your life. Growing up, my morning motivation was striving to be the best that I could be, but not for myself; rather, for my hard-working parents who gave up their world to give me one of my own. However, I slowly realized that I wasn’t truly living for myself under those circumstances. Ask yourself, what is your reason for waking up in the morning?
Once you’ve discovered your ideal self and your purpose, get crystal clear on the boundaries you wish to set. Remember, you are in full control of the boundaries you decided to set so get clear on your outcome. Not being able to set boundaries within an immigrant home may also affect how you set boundaries in your livelihood, including your studies, your career and your social life.
Setting boundaries with your immigrant elders is certainly not a walk in the park. Be patient with yourself and the ones you love. Have faith that the ones that are meant to stay in your life will respect your healthy boundaries. Be kind to yourself.