Therapist shares troubling lifestyle 'shift' happening amid pandemic: 'There’s more distance'
This year young adults are wondering even more than usual how they can set boundaries with their parents.
Due to the pandemic, more young adults are living with their parents than at any time since the Great Depression. Whether it's attending college classes remotely, working from home during quarantine, or something else, Millennials have Millennials and Gen Zers have gotten into a new dynamic.
This dynamic? Live like an adult, independent person while under the parents' roof. This is a situation that, according to therapist Dr. Marquis Norton can cause your personal boundaries to shift significantly.
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"Especially in the young world, many people are back in this plight because they are at home and used to going to school," Norton told In The Know. "When you're not there, there is more distance, which means communication is a little more restricted."
Dr. Norton is a licensed consultant, college professor, and TikTok creator who uses its platform to educate young people about mental health. This resume means he knows a thing or two about boundaries - and how young people can keep them up while living back home.
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1. Schedule time with friends
If this is your first time home or work from college in years, it can be difficult to lead a normal social life - especially during a pandemic when our normal hangouts are often via Zoom.
Therefore, said Dr. Norton, creating a specific, separate social time is crucial, just like what you would if you lived alone.
"Whether that means scheduling times to play a game or scheduling Zoom calls and just making sure you have that private custom time so that you can be your authentic self," he said.
2. Contact your support system
It is also important that you seek support from your friends, relatives, and loved ones. As Dr. Norton stated, your support system is anyone you can be completely "transparent" with.
For many, these people are your parents, but if you've lived with them for months, there may be times when you want to reach out to someone else.
"When you are this college age, not only are you developing academically and professionally, but you are developing through this life process. Some things are going to be important for you to navigate [emotionally]," said Dr. Norton is important to be transparent with your support system. "
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3. Have a process
As Dr. Norton stated that setting boundaries is a process. There are three steps for him to create your own personal space when you are at home with your family: know your limits, understand what you value, and be assertive.
These steps, said Dr. Norton, can help you contextualize your own preferences and then express them to others. When you know your limits, you need to recognize your limits so that you can clearly see if you feel that they are being violated.
Understanding what you value enables you to process the things that matter most to you - be it alone, a place to relax, or just a few minutes to watch Netflix. The final step - being assertive - means expressing these feelings clearly to the people around you.
"When it is time to have these difficult conversations, to keep certain things to yourself or to process certain things, it could certainly create fear," said Dr. Norton. "But when you are confident and clear it certainly opens the door for discussion."
4. Prioritize self-care
There are a million reasons self-care is important - especially in 2020. According to Dr. For Norton, this is also a helpful way to push your emotional limits.
"I think in this state that people are in, whatever it looks like to you, it's important to practice that self-care," he said. “So for some people it can be practice. For some people, it can be games or social media. For some people, it can be farming or planting. "
Just as you can hang out with your friends and focus on calming, relaxing activities, you can develop a sense of normalcy - even if, like Dr. Norton put it, have been "evicted" from your college or normal home.
5. Understand the different types of boundaries
Another important aspect of setting boundaries is using the vocabulary to communicate your needs. Therefore, said Dr. Norton, it is important to know that there are different types of boundaries.
He categorizes them into three buckets: rigid, healthy and porous. Dr. Norton explained that rigid boundaries are the "most extreme" boundaries that you would normally want to keep others at bay.
Healthy boundaries are now more "neutral," which means you're willing to share some information - but not all - about how you are feeling. With porous boundaries, your boundaries are very low and you run the risk of others "having too much influence on your decision-making".
In any conversation with your parents, it is helpful to understand your own limits and how to explain them out loud. This language, along with the other tips from Dr. Norton help make life with your parents a little less difficult.
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The tips on setting limits on home quarantine approved by the therapist after 5 were first published in In The Know.
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