Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

by Henry Cloud

Other authorsDr. John Townsend (Author)
Paperback, 1992



Call number




Thomas Nelson Publishing (1992), Edition: Revised edition, 320 pages


Are you in control of your life? Do people take advantage of you? Do you have trouble saying no? Christian often focus so much on being loving and given that they forget their own limitations. Have you ever found yourself wondering: Can I set limits and still be a loving person? What are my legitimate boundaries? How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? Why do I feel guilty when I consider setting boundaries? Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend give you biblically based answers to these and other tough questions, showing you how to set healthy boundaries with parents, spouses, children, friends, coworkers, and even with yourself. You'll see vital principles of boundaries at work as Drs. Cloud and Townsend take you through a day in the life of "Sherrie"--first as she lives with almost no boundaries, then as she begins to apply proper boundaries with others in her life.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Heduanna
I'm surprised to be giving this a full five stars, seeing as Dr. Cloud is an evangelical Christian - and writes like one! - and I'm agnostic/atheist. But it earns the full five stars. What he says about boundaries (and the way to sanity) is something pretty much everyone in the modern world needs to hear in some form. If you can deal with a bit of Christianity without it driving you totally nuts (and, really, it's not all that strong, doesn't sound like a Bible study or anything), then I'd highly recommend this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member Coranne
I would give this book 10 stars if I could... life changing.
LibraryThing member nesum
There is some very useful stuff in this book, but I do not believe the authors distinguish enough between keeping those boundries up about the bad while loosening up about the good. They SAY that, but in their examples they do not encourage that.

To explain, let me use the story at the end of the book, which is a woman's day when she has her boundaries functioning "properly." The discipline she teaches her childing is good, but as for the rest of it, what love does she show? Does she help bear the burdens of those around her, as we are instructed to do in Galatians 6?

Obviously not. In fact, she dumps her work onto her assistant so she can skip out early, makes herself a pest to her husband until he conforms to her wishes, and hangs up on a friend who had called her for help.

Before boundaries, she was a wreck, it is true. Yet is the solution to being stressed an abandonment of Christian responsibility, or is it to lean on God for more patience?

I would rather be tearing my hair out in service than to assert myself in what I would consider an unchristian way. The authors have laid out a method by which you can make everyone around you do your bidding. And yet the first shall be last in the end. Let me be a servant!
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LibraryThing member TheMadTurtle
This is a very helpful book. The authors cover a wide variety of different types of boundary issues, so naturally, the reader will find it difficult to relate to some of them. My experience was that I related quite strongly to some and couldn't relate at all to others. Still, it's certainly a very worthwhile book to read if you or someone you know is struggling with a personal boundary issue of some kind - be it spouse, family, friends, work or church. They're all pretty well covered here.… (more)
LibraryThing member coffeebookperfect
I agree with the concepts put forward in this book, though I found it almost impossible to read from a literature point of view. I assume that Cloud and Townsend have tried to write it so that it can be read and understood by anyone, which leaves it extremely bland, repetitive and poorly written. Rather than expand well on the topic or go into greater depth, they have repeated their concepts over and again, applying the same formula to multitudes of case studies. This book could be condensed to about 20 pages, if people can't get the same thought process out of that they aren't going to.

It was a good idea, but very poorly executed, they may have done better to employ a ghost writer.
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LibraryThing member mj.greenway
Front row placement on my bookshelves, so I can refer to it often. This book is beautifully written, with scriptural and historical data to explain and clarify sociological expectations and create more functional relations.
LibraryThing member toryana
Excellent read. It was recommended to me by someone who encouraged me and prayed with me. It changed the way I dealt with people, and my way of perceiving in general. If there is one book I'd recommend without reserve, it'd be this one.
LibraryThing member PacificChurch
A helpful book in understanding how to define and set healthy boundaries for the Christian life.
LibraryThing member amyrn75
This is a book that I have to read many times over, the concept of letting go of the bad to let in the good resonated more than anything. Yes the book is repetitive, but the more you read something, the more you will understand and retain. Each person carries their own daily load, but we all share our burdens.
LibraryThing member Amniot
Many good insights. I can understand those who say it was life-changing. It was recommended to me with the caveat that I'd have to not be distracted by the many Christian and biblical references. I find that's good advice. Don't avoid reading it just because you're not from a religious background; that can just be considered window dressing. The book offers a lot of help to those who are burned out or stressed by daily demands or difficult people.… (more)
LibraryThing member homeschoolmimzi
A good friend of mine read this book and recommended it to me. Then coincidentally my son started reading it. So I thought I'd pick it up, not expecting it to be as good as it is! This is probably one of the best books I've read this year. The authors are Christian and come from that orientation, but anyone could read this book and be transformed by its truths. The chapters cover boundary setting in different spheres of life- work, marriage, with children, aging parents, and with oneself. They talk about guilt, and for me one of the most important concepts- owning one's problems. So ( and this is an oversimplification) if you are annoyed by someone's being consistently late- just let him/her know that next time you hope she'll be on time but if not you'll leave w/o her. Whoa! It's so simple, but so few people actually do this! They, including me, will cajole, remind, nag, family members to get ready, hurry up, c'mon, we're going to be late, etc.. Instead of setting a boundary... So.. I tried it with my daughter. And lo and behold.. now she knows I'll leave for the gym w/o her if she's not ready. And guess what? She's prompt now! So... not that this is a magic cure.. but just one simple example of taking control of yourself and letting consequences happen naturally . Love it. I plan to re-read this from time to time. Highly recommend.… (more)
LibraryThing member highlander6022
Good, basic thoughts on setting boundaries in your life.
LibraryThing member deldevries
just ok as a book. The concept is simple and straight forward but the book is rather tedious.
LibraryThing member cdiemert
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances -- Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions -- Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others -- Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator -- Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: - Can I set limits and still be a loving person? - What are legitimate boundaries? - What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? - How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? - Aren't boundaries selfish? - Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.… (more)
LibraryThing member madepercy
I first read this book in the 1990s, at about the same time I read The Joshua Factor. Cloud and Townsend integrate their psychological and theological understandings in a refreshing manner. It is unashamedly Christian in focus, but that need not deter the non-Christian from taking note of the lessons, and adapting the spiritual aspects to their own faith or spirituality. What I like about the book is the applicability of boundary lessons, especially to areas of one's life that are deeply familial and personal. This is the book's strength, and when combined with the psychological foundations and research, the messages are powerful. I am pleased to have re-read this book, and the timing was perfect. The quote I wrote down over and over again while reading this was "Own the problem" (p. 207). And Proverbs 19:3 kept coming back to me: "The foolishness of man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord" (NKJV). If the non-Christian reader can identify with the philosophical and spiritual bases drawn upon in the book, there is much wisdom to be gained. A work well worth reading as part of one's end-of-year reflection.… (more)
LibraryThing member serbook
Found this book very helpful. Easy to read and grasp the principles. Essential advice for survival in marriage and parenting and friendships
LibraryThing member paven
Religious scripture. Not business or humanities science.
LibraryThing member Rebekah.Kreger
Some good things to say but alot of unhelpful advice. Read I Kissed Dating Goodbye it's much more clear.


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Original publication date


Physical description

320 p.; 5.47 inches


0310247454 / 9780310247456


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