Do Not Enter - No Boys Allowed; Setting Boundaries

Just like the diligent homeowner taking care of his property, setting and maintaining boundaries is hard work. Many issues arise when people do not have healthy boundaries. Get your fence built and take care of your property.

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DO NOT ENTER - NO BOYS ALLOWED!!!

As a child, my family took yearly vacations to a location that was more than 1,000 miles away. That meant many long hours in the car, sharing the back seat with my older brother. YUCK!! We were permitted to take things with us to keep us occupied for the long journey....... coloring books, comic books, games, Barbies, etc. This was well before the time of DVD players mounted in the car. We didn't even have a tape deck. But we did have seat belts which Dad insisted we wear at all times.

This was back in the day when sedans were huge. Good thing, because my brother and I needed our own space. We would draw an imaginary line down the center of the seat, a line that we were not allowed to cross.....unless we had the other person's permission. This arrangement worked out well....most of the time. Oh....we still argued, but we stayed out of each other's personal space.

I also remember the little cabin that my brother and his friends built in our back yard. It was a very cool cabin with windows and a roof that you could raise on one side. And I also remember that it had a lock on the door.........to keep out all girls. I admit that my best friend and I figured out a way to sneak in when my brother was gone. We were trespassing, I guess. My friend and I decided we would make our own cabin......well, more of a tent that wasn't too sturdy. But it was our space......a place where we could play with our Barbies all day long. And the best part was the sign on the front....... DO NOT ENTER - NO BOYS ALLOWED!

These are examples of boundaries. Physical boundaries such as signs, locks, and doors are easy to see. Although they differ in appearance, they still have the same message: This is where my property begins. The owner of the property is responsible for what happens on his or her property.

Other boundaries, such as personal boundaries, are not as easy to see. Just as a homeowner sets physical boundaries around his or her property such as a fence or a hedge, we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for out lives to help us distinguish what we are responsible for.

A personal boundary is an invisible fence around our personal space. Boundaries are to keep people from abusing us, trespassing on our turf in an attempt to control us or to try to get us to do something we really don't want to do. Boundaries define us, who we are and who we are not...our feelings, beliefs, values, choices, desires, attitudes, limits, behaviors, actions. A boundary shows us where we end and someone else begins, which leads to an sense of ownership.

Like the homeowner, we are responsible for everything within our boundaries, but we are not responsible for what is in someone else's back yard. We should not try to gain control of or be forced to take responsibility of what is within someone else's boundaries.

All of us have to interact with others.....others who have their own boundaries. We will need to rely on others to help us set and keep boundaries. We have relationships of varying degrees of familiarity. But even within the closest of relationships, boundaries still need to be honored.

Setting boundaries and maintaining them is hard work. We all know people...friends, family members, co-workers, patients, bosses......who trample all over our boundaries. They become indignant at the thought of boundaries and want to have total control over everything and everyone. On the other end of the spectrum are those who have difficulty setting limits, unable to say no or stand up for themselves.

I'm sure you have encountered boundary issues and how they can wreak havoc in the workplace. Some examples are:

  • Getting stuck with another's responsibilities
  • Having to work too much overtime
  • Getting called in on your day off
  • Difficult co-workers
  • Critical attitudes
  • Staff shortage
  • Misplaced priorities
  • Conflicts with authority
  • Taking work-related stress home
  • Disliking your job
  • Overcommitment
  • Burnout

Feel free to tell your stories of boundary issues and how you have dealt with them.

As nurses, we also need to set and maintain professional boundaries. This is addressed in another blog entry, Caution! Don't Cross that Line - Maintaining Professional Boundaries.

For other articles by this author, go to Body, Mind, and Soul

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Sacred eagle

54 Posts

Absolutely,yet why are there so many boundary violations committed by nurses? It is a

real problem with state nursing boards.

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

157 Articles; 5,918 Posts

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.
Absolutely,yet why are there so many boundary violations committed by nurses? It is a

real problem with state nursing boards.

Thank you for posting. Can you please elaborate.

beast master RN

129 Posts

Specializes in wound care. Has 2 years experience.

im a male nurse and iv had a few cna's more or less back me into a corner wanting attention , its not going to ruin my day , but it's a little awkward when the feeling not mutual . You have to just act like you dont no what they want and stay focuses on what your doing , a few times iv had to come out and say to there face its not happening . but...... don't act like people don't like the feeling of being wanted, its just when the other person doing it isnt your kinda off guy or gall it makes it weird, or if your in a relationship ect

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

157 Articles; 5,918 Posts

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.
im a male nurse and iv had a few cna's more or less back me into a corner wanting attention , its not going to ruin my day , but it's a little awkward when the feeling not mutual . You have to just act like you dont no what they want and stay focuses on what your doing , a few times iv had to come out and say to there face its not happening . but...... don't act like people don't like the feeling of being wanted, its just when the other person doing it isnt your kinda off guy or gall it makes it weird, or if your in a relationship ect

Definitely an issue with boundaries.

TheOldGuy

148 Posts

How interesting...the title of this article is so appropriate to nursing. Unlike medicine and law, nursing continues to be an incredibly sexist occupation. Over 100 years of nursing in the US and it is dominated by a single gender. Law schools are now roughly 50/50, medical schools are approaching 50/50 but nursing schools are still over 90% single gender. Unlike law and medicine, there is very little outreach to encourage males to see nursing as a good career choice.

My experience as a male in nursing school and nursing has been rife with "no boys allowed" attitudes.

Too bad too...nursing is a great field........

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

157 Articles; 5,918 Posts

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

In naming this blog entry, it certainly was not my intention to focus on denying guys entry into nursing school. It merely was part of my memory of boundary development as a child.

But it is interesting that you pointed this out. Years ago.......back in the Dark Ages.......when I was in nursing school, we only had one guy in our class. His name was Tom and we all really liked him. He was a great student. It is a shame that more guys do not choose nursing as a career. And it is too bad that some of the ones who do, feel the "no boys allowed" atmosphere. The male nurses I have had the pleasure of working with have been wonderful.

Thanks for your input!

Chin up

694 Posts

Specializes in Med surg, LTC, Administration. Has 26 years experience.

Love the article. Hoping for a part two and possible part three. Having been raised by an alcoholic, I never had boundaries. No, I never had the "finer" boundaries. As a matter of fact, I did not know they existed. I knew, folks should not steal, rape, or call me derogatory names...but I never understood, sharing certain info about myself or family was the same as having no boundaries. I knew not to lie, but I did not know, that TMI, was just as wrong and in effect, inviting others to cross certain boundaries that they would never cross with another person.

Around 45 years old, working as an agency nurse, a beautiful woman, name Clair, gave me a book on boundaries. She had told me, that although she only knew me for hours, she could see I had no sense of personal boundaries....the book, changed my life. I have since bought dozens and given to various other, adult children of alcoholics. All of us had the same reaction to the book, OMG, we never knew, never thought about it and we will change our interactions with others.

I still have difficulty with certain areas of my life, concerning boundaries, but, now I am aware and will hold myself back when I find myself inviting others to come in, where they do not belong. Peace!

Sacred eagle

54 Posts

Thank you for posting. Can you please elaborate.

Boundary violations. In one month 3 nursing staff were fired and reprimanded by the state nursing board for

dating patients. Interesting,these 3 nurses were female.

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

157 Articles; 5,918 Posts

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.
Love the article. Hoping for a part two and possible part three. Having been raised by an alcoholic, I never had boundaries. No, I never had the "finer" boundaries. As a matter of fact, I did not know they existed. I knew, folks should not steal, rape, or call me derogatory names...but I never understood, sharing certain info about myself or family was the same as having no boundaries. I knew not to lie, but I did not know, that TMI, was just as wrong and in effect, inviting others to cross certain boundaries that they would never cross with another person.

Around 45 years old, working as an agency nurse, a beautiful woman, name Clair, gave me a book on boundaries. She had told me, that although she only knew me for hours, she could see I had no sense of personal boundaries....the book, changed my life. I have since bought dozens and given to various other, adult children of alcoholics. All of us had the same reaction to the book, OMG, we never knew, never thought about it and we will change our interactions with others.

I still have difficulty with certain areas of my life, concerning boundaries, but, now I am aware and will hold myself back when I find myself inviting others to come in, where they do not belong. Peace!

Thanks for your post.

I do intend on writing a few more segments about this topic.

I also read a book on boundaries a few years ago, and the light went on for me too. I am probably on the other end of the spectrum......can't say no, avoid conflicts, actually feel guilty when saying no. But learning about boundaries gave me more courage to recognize that it's OK to say no, it's OK to feel aggravated when people trample all over what I now know is boundaries......my personal space.

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

157 Articles; 5,918 Posts

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.
Boundary violations. In one month 3 nursing staff were fired and reprimanded by the state nursing board for

dating patients. Interesting,these 3 nurses were female.

Thanks for elaborating. Yes......that is a perfect example of violating professional boundaries. I will write more about that in another segment, but thanks for sharing.

Rodoon, BSN, MSN, RN

1 Article; 124 Posts

Specializes in CC, MS, ED, Clinical Research. Has 29 years experience.

Old Guy makes a good point about gender differences in nursing. Lots of people don't realize that men did the nursing in the miliary pre-Army nurses for females in 1900. I doubt if its the nursing schools keeping them out now; men are self choosing to forgo nursing. We need better recruitment.

I think hospitals cross boundaries without penalty when they call people to come in on off days. I reached a point when I told staffing not to bother calling me because I earned my time off. I got a spill about the patients' needing me,' and I pointed out it wasn't my job to hire or fund nursing slots, but the person who had that job should be called before me. Making it to retirement means speaking up for yourself so you're not a broken down wreck that gets kicked to the curb.