Emotional Boundaries for Second Moms

Emotional Boundaries for Second Moms
Legacy Living Today podcast 
Season 4, Episode 5

Emotional Boundaries for 2nd Moms

By Dawn T. Baggett, JD

Today’s topic is emotional boundaries.  
In particular on this episode I’m focusing on emotional boundaries for moms like me.  In many of our adoptive families children have suffered an enormous degree of trauma and in particular the loss of not only their first mother but other caregivers as well in their formative years. 

Different Types of Boundaries
You’ve seen & heard quite a bit about setting boundaries by now I suppose.  And perhaps you have a good grip on what it means to set personal boundaries with others, and have even put this into practice in your own life. Even so, to make sure that we’re on the same page today, you need to know that what I mean by the word “boundaries” is that dividing line (boundary) you make to protect something of yours from trespass by another that says you will not continue past that line (boundary) with the other person.  In practice it may sound something like, “I will not continue listening to you yell obscenities at me;” a boundary to protect your finances might sound like, “I will not continue paying you while your work is unfinished;” one to protect property – “I won’t leave without locking the door first”; one to protect physical safety –  “I won’t stay in the house where there are unsecured weapons.”

With all these various boundaries to protect different things, there may be an emotional component. But today I want us to pick apart and focus primarily on emotional boundaries. You may set boundaries to protect your time, your physical body, your work/ability to get work done, your belongings.  You can also set boundaries to protect your emotional safety. 

What is an Emotional Boundary?
Emotional boundaries have to do with the separateness of your emotional experience from that of others.  I think of emotional boundaries as the other side of the coin of empathy.  Empathy says “I care about you and your feelings”, and even, “I know what that feels like” – Healthy emotional boundaries say, “you have your feelings and I have mine”. 

An emotional boundary protects your feelings and your emotions from getting trampled by others, as well as from absorbing those of someone else…taking on someone else’s feelings as your own.  

of emotional boundaries like the one above stating that you won’t continue the conversation while the other person hurl insults can be an emotional boundary protective of your emotions that are likely being invaded upon and trampled  in such a situation - so the boundary is I won’t…which begs the question, what WILL you do?  

This is where we sometimes get mixed up and try to control the other person with our so called boundary, rather than using it to guide our own actions. 

What’s another example of an emotional boundary. How about taking time for yourself in stressful circumstances to regroup and refill your emotional tank?

What could be an emotional boundary for you that might also be a good example for your children?  

We already touched on setting boundaries around conversation.  Those can be a good, but harder to start with.  You might get in some practice in boundary setting with something easier, such as setting an emotional boundary for yourself in another area.  

   What fuels your emotional tank?   

Daily prayer time, a walk, quiet me-time, maybe weekly outings without the kiddos or with your spouse.   Setting a boundary to protect that important emotional refueling time might look like putting it on the schedule or calendar and committing to doing nothing else during that time block.  It may be as simple as setting up your morning routine to work for your emotional needs so you aren’t steamed over skipping your shower to look for someone else’s shoes in the morning. Or scheduling a regular time your child can be looked after by someone else for your own emotional needs and making it a priority. 

How Can Emotional Boundaries Help Avoid Burnout?
By now you recognize that an important precursor to setting good emotional boundaries is to distinguish your own emotions and feelings from those of other people. That’s harder for some of us than others.  

As a mom and caregiver – particularly in the case of a child with attachment trauma – burnout, compassion fatigue or secondary trauma is a risk. Making the effort to set healthy emotional boundaries for yourself can help you avoid depleting your emotional energy. Emotional boundaries can help you take needed breaks without misplaced feelings of guilt. Emotional boundaries help avoid overwhelm and help you be more effective &  think more clearly.  

Just as our kiddos with less than secure attachments tend to have walls up that can impede their accepting love and nurture from us, we can go the other extreme with not enough separation with a your-pain-is-my-pain kind of approach, kind of an empathy on steroids which is not healthy for anyone. 

You're Invited!
If this has been helpful you might like to join in for February’s free Clarity Workshop on the topic of Second Moms with Secondary Trauma on Feb. 16 at 11:30 central time.  Don’t wait! You can register at dawnbaggett.com/events today. 

Keep Learning - Keep Growing - Keep Loving!


DAFZfMGDeyELegacy Living Today podcast 

Safety Planning for Second Moms

By Dawn T. Baggett, JD

Why the Focus on Safety Just for Moms?

This is a good introductory question before getting into this replay episode.  

Maybe because it’s so overlooked. 

Maybe because of the story from just last week in which a mom in one of my Facebook groups was killed by her 18 year old son? 

Maybe because I know from experience and from others that moms are often blamed rather than helped when they reach out to family, friends, experts and authorities. 

Maybe because it’s time.  
Time to stop passing the blame, passing judgment,  and passing on opportunities to support struggling families in our midst. Time for people to wake up and realize that despite the Mother’s Day card sentiments, or Adoption Gotcha Day Facebook photos, adoption is not a magic wand that erases severe developmental trauma in a child.  
Mothers are more than babysitters and it’s not as easy as pulling a child from one family and popping them into another, despite the Foster Care system in our country.  And precisely because the needed support is not generally there, moms hold on until…until....they can't. 

Moms are normally going to plan and pray and do near impossible  feats to keep their children safe, their family intact, to keep the wheels rolling. 
But at whose expense?  
Her own.

So I focus on safety first for second moms because mom, YOU need to know that your safety is KEY.  If your safety doesn’t matter to you, then why would you expect your safety to matter to anyone else?  
I believe you’re showing your family that they and their safety matters to you.  But they need to know yours matters, too. They’re watching you. 
They’ll see how you do it.  
How you prioritize your own safety while still valuing theirs.   
This is how they’ll be able to do it for themselves someday. 

          Your safety is a bigger issue than you alone.          

This isn’t about sacrifice for a bigger purpose.  It isn’t about service over selfishness.  Of course you sacrifice and serve your family, your children.  But failing to steward your own safety when failure to do so helps no one and has no redeeming value is not the same thing.  Steward your safety and show your children and others how it’s done. 

Replay Episode Show Notes
Text of the episode from which this replay episode was taken can be found and read HERE.

Safety Planning Intro Course
Find the Safety First for Second Moms introductory planning course HERE

Keep Learning - Keep Growing - Keep Loving!

NEW LENSES! For Complex Families

NEW LENSES! For Complex Families


Have you ever been to the eye doctor and found out that your vision prescription has changed? Similarly, there are factors that can limit our relational vision, and it can change over time as well.  It can be helpful to our vision of our relationships to look through different lenses.  Below I share some thoughts on different types of lenses for you to consider - especially if there are any hints or clues that your current lens might be causing you to miss something. 
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