A lady attending the course made another interesting point about my shoes-off policy and boundaries. She asked me about workmen removing their shoes and health and safety issues. I pointed out that a shoes-off policy is an informal boundary, unlike laws and regulations, so exceptions can be made. Then she said:
"But if you make lots of exceptions to your rule, then friends who normally take their shoes off might start keeping them on. That's how boundaries can slip."
I thought this was a really insightful point about boundaries.
It is absolutely true that making lots of exceptions can cause inconsistency. So if you have a shoes-off rule, but then you make an exception for a party, then you might start letting your friends keep their shoes on for less formal visits. Then you might start neglecting to take your own shoes off. Then you might start being less bothered if your children fail to remove their shoes. Consistency is really important.