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Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life Paperback – April 1, 1992

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Editorial Reviews Review

In order to call themselves good Christians, many people have drawn overly flexible boundaries (unwilling to say no, always accommodating others' needs) or overly rigid boundaries (to the point of being righteous and judgmental). Psychologists and inspirational speakers Cloud and Townsend show readers how to set reasonable boundaries in order to follow the true path of Christianity. This book has become immensely popular, most likely because it makes personal boundaries easier to define and is filled with spiritual purpose. Some cautions: the format can be overly self-helpish for such a complex discussion and the authors at one point imply that judicious spankings may be an acceptable form of setting boundaries with children. However, many Christians will probably find themselves grateful for this biblical context of boundaries. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have great insights and practical wisdom into the God-given gift of boundaries. As they discuss how to take responsibility for and ownership of our lives, they give hope that we cannot just survive -- but thrive! --Josh McDowell, Author, Author and Speaker
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Revised edition edition (April 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310247454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310247456
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,030 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

735 of 770 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a Christian, I continually struggled with feeling depressed from being a doormat, and being nice because it was "part of the abundant Christian life." Everyone spoke about Christianity as being a joyful, full life that I would love and never want to return to the secular world. Then why did I feel so miserable? Why did the secular world seem so appealing, where I could be as nasty and selfish as I wanted to?
The answer was in "Boundaries". As I read the book, I could identify with something in every chapter. I'm the type of person who will let everyone else step all over me to keep themselves happy. As long as I didn't raise a ruckus, and the peace was kept, everything was okay, right? WRONG! Inside I was always seething with anger, and I was livid with the fact that I had to continually step out of the way for everyone else while they ran right over me.
Through reading this book, I realized that it's OK to set boundaries in all interactions; in fact, I now believe that it would be wrong NOT to set boundaries in things. Slowly but surely, with the help from this book's message, I've been setting boundaries for a happier life that's filled with more peace, joy, and abundance than ever.
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347 of 361 people found the following review helpful By K.W. on February 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wow, why didn't I ever know about this book? You don't hear much about it- I stumbled upon it browsing around Amazon one day. For people wondering if they should buy this book, get it if:

-you're not turned off by a Christian writing approach
-you feel like there's a problem because you're trying to be a good person all the time by always saying "yes"

In a nutshell, this book is for people who don't know how to set boundaries for themselves. In other words, they're always saying "yes" to things and taking responsibility for things- even when it's not their job.

And boundary lines of your responsibilities need to be present in more areas of your life than you might realize, such as...

-your family
-your friends
-your mate
-your kids
-your self

The book covers boundary conflicts in each of these areas leaving no stone unturned. Therefore, its no big deal if you have only one or two problem areas- just go to those sections.

This book will help you realize what a boundary is, why it's okay to have them and just how to develop them. So if anything in this review sounds like if might apply to you- don't hesitate to check out the book. Other neat self-help books I liked include "Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World".
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215 of 245 people found the following review helpful By Kirk Lashley on November 8, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recently I'd reached a stage of being overwhelmed by life; I'd been recommended several books, and I read "Boundaries" as the first one, the others being "Ordering Your Private World" by Gordon MacDonald and "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. After reading Boundaries, I have come to terms with my own inability to set personal boundaries and I took ownership of my own choices which I have made.
On reading several negative comments about the book, I notice the persons complain of things that are actually not promoted in the book - there is a balance that is actually promoted, that boundaries are not an excuse to say "No", as irresponsibility is warned as another extreme of boundaries and goes against biblical principles. Some persons complained that people didn't seem to like them after they established boundaries, "Bonding first, boundaries second". Like any concept it could be taken to an extreme. I should warn that without a strong biblical background or the support of a group these concepts could easily be misapplied and used as weapons (boundaries are not weapons) instead of defenses to protect who we are.
The risk of misapplication of the concepts does not negate the fatc that this book is biblically sound, and promotes healthy relational concepts -- if applied correctly.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on April 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is truly excellent. In my own childhood I grew up with a domineering, imposing and dare I say it "bullying" father and a meek, mild, "anything for a quiet life", sweet as honey mother. I resented my Dad for riding roughshod all over my Mum as a kid but have learned as an adult how they both are responsible. With time I began to resent Mum for being such a wimp as well as my Dad for being a control freak. Now I just love them to pieces, because they are my dear parents.

Anyway, I grew up to be a controlling, abusive tyrant, just like my Dad was if not worse. This persisted until 2008 when the beautiful, adoring woman I married got tired of my treatment of her and left me. I would never have woken up, let alone **grown** up if she hadn't done this. With a lot of time and work from my side we got back together again and the type of "man" I used to be really disgusts me. With time and effort I have been able to put together healthy boundaries of behaviour I will and will not accept from others, and from myself.

The point is my wife took a stand, just as this book says to. And it worked. On me that is.

If you are an abused spouse take a radical stand. The more radical the better. Do exactly what this book tells you to do.

I have given the book four stars because I am an atheist (sorry to any religious folks, I just cannot believe any of it, even if I wanted to) and my "God filter" had to be on at all times. Still, it doesn't matter what source the help comes from and I wish I had come across this book five years ago. My two little kids will learn healthy boundaries as well so they don't grow up to be the basket case I was.
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