I feel your pain Blissmiss! Sometimes I think of private duty as nursing's best kept secret and other times as nursing's best kept nightmare!!! So many complex psycho-social issues with these families. If you give an inch with these families, they will take a mile. They will take all you will give, and more! A firm professional boundary is so imperative.
You stated that the families "seem to not understand that it is primarily a business/professional relationship and you work and are paid through the employer and have to follow their rules and guidelines." I agree totally!! Unfortunately, however, I also found that nurses were often as much of the problem as the families! In 4 plus yrs of private duty, I encountered so many nurses who totally lacked a professional boundary, essentially socially integrated into the family, became their close friend, lost all objectivity, caved into all whims....and this caused so many very serious problems!
You sound like a great nurse with good professional boundaries! If more nurses could maintain a firm professional boundary, I think many of the problems we encounter with private duty would be eliminated because the family would see a consistent front and would see that they could not push the nurses around!! Unfortunately, my experience was that professional nurses who keep a boundary are far and few between. I came to the conclusion that something about private duty seems to attract unprofessional, co-dependent nurses, with no boundaries! Sigh. Sorry I am so cynical.
You also state that "it would be helpful if the agencies would brief you on these things in the beginning." I totally agree, and have posted on this before. I think all agencies should have some type of mandatory in-service on the psycho-social issues you typically see with these families, and emphasize the critical importance of the nurse maintaining firm professional boundaries. But no...they send you in "blind".