Embracing Boundaries: Lessons from Saint Thérèse of Lisieux for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Homes

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For Adult Children of Dysfunctional Homes, the journey of healing is often paved with the need to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. These boundaries are not merely about self-preservation; they are about fostering an environment where love, compassion, and faith can thrive. In this blog post, we will delve into the delicate art of setting boundaries, drawing inspiration from the wisdom of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and the profound act of surrendering to God’s will.

The Little Way of Boundaries

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, often referred to as “The Little Flower,” is celebrated for her “Little Way” of love. It’s a path of simplicity and small acts of kindness. Similarly, setting boundaries need not be a grand, dramatic gesture. Just as Saint Thérèse performed small acts of love, we can establish manageable boundaries in our lives. For example, using the powerful practice of saying “no” when necessary. It might be declining an invitation, setting limits on our time, or politely but firmly asserting our needs.

The essence of St. Thérèse’s “Little Way” is that even these seemingly modest steps can lead to profound personal transformation. By practicing small, intentional acts of boundary-setting, we are making a significant investment in our adult child recovery. Over time, these small steps accumulate, creating a foundation of self-respect and self-care.

Surrendering to God’s Plan

Surrender is deeply intertwined with our faith. It’s about recognizing that we are not in complete control and placing our trust in God. In the context of boundary-setting, surrender means acknowledging that God knows what is best for us. When we establish healthy boundaries, we are aligning ourselves with God’s plan for our lives.

Saint Thérèse’s life was marked by her unwavering trust in God’s providence. She considered herself as a little child in the arms of a loving Father. Because we have had alcoholic or dysfunctional parents, it is often difficult for us to see God as a loving father. Yet in recovery, as we set healthy boundaries for ourselves and heal some of those childhood wounds and fears, surrendering to God’s guidance becomes less intimidating.  Let’s pray for wisdom and discernment when faced with decisions related to boundaries. Surrendering to God allows us to release the need to control everything and find peace in knowing that we are following His path.

Protection and Self-Care

Setting boundaries is an act of self-care and self-protection. In the context of Saint Thérèse’s teachings, it’s akin to cherishing our own spiritual well-being. As an adult child of a dysfunctional home, we often experienced emotional turmoil and relational challenges. Boundaries serve as protective shields, guarding us from toxic relationships, emotional manipulation, and situations that trigger past wounds.

Establishing boundaries enables us to prioritize our emotional and mental health. It’s a way of saying to ourselves, “I am worthy of respect, care, and emotional safety.” Just as Saint Thérèse cared for her spiritual growth, we, too, deserve to focus on our personal growth and healing.

Love and Compassion

Saint Thérèse’s message of love and compassion extends to ourselves as well. She emphasized the importance of love in even the smallest actions. Setting boundaries is an act of self-love. It’s a declaration that we value our own well-being and are willing to protect it.

Remember that by preserving our own well-being through boundaries, we are better equipped to offer love and support to others. Just as Saint Thérèse’s life was a testament to love in action, our journey of setting boundaries can lead to more authentic and compassionate relationships with those around us.

Communication and Clarity

Effective communication is fundamental to setting and maintaining boundaries. Saint Thérèse’s emphasis on simplicity provides valuable guidance here. One way is to keep our boundaries clear, gentle, and straightforward. When we communicate our needs and limits to others, we can do so with clarity and kindness, rather than anger and rigidity.

Saint Thérèse’s “Little Way” reminds us that simplicity can lead to profound transformation. In the context of boundary-setting, this simplicity can manifest in clear and honest communication. By expressing our boundaries with gentleness, simplicity, and sincerity, we create an environment where mutual understanding and respect can thrive.

Prayer and Reflection

Saint Thérèse found solace and strength in prayer. In our journey of setting boundaries, let’s consider the role of prayer and reflection. As people of faith, Step 11 is crucial to our recovery. We need to take time to connect with God and seek His guidance in discerning which boundaries are necessary for our growth and well-being.

Prayer can become a powerful tool for strengthening our resolve and finding inner peace amidst the challenges of setting boundaries. It provides us with the opportunity to invite God into our decision-making process, ensuring that our boundaries align with His plan for our lives.

Establishing and maintaining boundaries as an adult child from a dysfunctional home is a courageous and essential step toward healing and personal growth. Drawing inspiration from Saint Thérèse of Lisieux’s “Little Way” and surrendering to God’s divine guidance, we can navigate this journey with grace and resilience.

Remember that setting boundaries need not be a grand, overwhelming task. Just as Saint Thérèse’s small acts of love led to profound transformation, our small, intentional acts of boundary-setting can create a foundation of self-respect and self-care. Surrendering to God’s plan allows us to release the need to control everything, finding peace in His providence.

By protecting our emotional well-being, prioritizing self-care, embracing love and compassion (both for ourselves and others), communicating with clarity, and seeking guidance through prayer and reflection, we can navigate the delicate art of boundary-setting with grace and faith. In doing so, we not only promote our own healing but also create the conditions for healthier and more authentic relationships with those around us.

As adult children of dysfunctional homes, we attend meetings in order to heal, find peace, grow in our relationship with God, and forge a path toward healthier human relationships and ordered self-love. It is never too late to embark on this empowering journey and we welcome any and all adult children to join us on this grace-filled journey.

Interested in learning more about Catholic saints related to addiction? Pray the CIR Novena with us, asking for the intercession of several patrons saints for those struggling with addiction, compulsions, and unhealthy attachments (including alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive overeating, anorexia, bulimia, pornography/sex addiction, codependency, adult children of alcoholics, and many others) as well as their loved ones. Receive emails over the next nine days with a short meditation on a recovery-related saint and a prayer by signing up for the CIR Novena today!

Born and raised Catholic, Chloe is an adult child of alcoholics who recently rediscovered the beauty of 12-step recovery through attending Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and Catholic in Recovery meetings. For many years, Chloe was an Evangelical Christian before the Blessed Mother, the saints, and the witness of a dear friend eventually drew her back to the Catholic faith.