The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage


What is the difference between rigid, firm, and permeable boundaries?

In a family, boundaries should be firm, but permeable. If the boundaries are too rigid, there is no communication or mutual influence across generational or interpersonal boundaries. This leads to authoritarian or disengaged family systems. If the boundaries are too permeable, then there is insufficient respect for privacy and different family members inappropriately interfere with each other’s decisions. This leads to an enmeshed family system. Ultimately, firm but permeable boundaries are optimal. For example, parents should listen to the opinions and the preferences of their children, but still make the final decisions.


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