Women are culturally conditioned to attend to other people’s needs before our own. But by internalizing that lesson, we wind up getting ourselves stuck enduring situations that may not be healthy for us. Given the messages we’ve received not to make waves or upset people, it’s not uncommon for us to stay when we can, and should, leave.
Erynn Brook, a feminist writer, wrote a Twitter thread about how her mother taught her to set boundaries.
She starts by discussing the instructions her mother gave her about her first sleepover.
She asked the girl’s mom to call her mom. She persisted, even when the girl’s mom was reluctant.
The girls at the sleepover were confused. Brook’s mom continued to support her in setting boundaries.
Brook acknowledges that this advice runs counter to many of the messages we receive as women.
Brook also acknowledges that in some situations, there is no way out. In other situations, though, we could leave, but don’t realize we have permission.
As Brook continued to struggle with giving herself permission to leave, her mom asked her a key question: “What do you need so you can leave?”
Brook clarified a bit later that although this message may resonate with women, it’s an important lesson to teach all children, regardless of gender identity.
We all have the right to set boundaries, and we all have the right to leave.