Ideally, your family is supposed to accept you as you are without prejudice or judgment. Unfortunately, the reality is far from this for some.
Being human, members of your family also succumb to the frailties of human nature. Such as showing bias, being critical, not being empathetic, violating your boundaries, being manipulative, being judgmental, or taking unfair advantage of your good nature. The list is in fact much longer.
The simple truth is you cannot change or control the behavior of another person, not even that of a close family member. Appealing to their good senses may work but most often not. If they wanted to be nice to you in the first place, they would never have made life difficult for you.
However, one thing you can absolutely control is your reaction to such behavior. Believe it or not, it can make all the difference.
This article takes a look at this topic and comes up with some useful suggestions for you on how to handle toxic family members and how to build stronger relations with your family.
Why are family relationships important?
From the time you are born, it is your family that takes care of your needs, protects you, and teaches you the first lessons in almost everything. Until you reach adulthood and can take care of yourself, it is your family that offers you unconditional support. Or at least supposed to.
As a child, your world revolves around your family. So even after you grow up, having good relationships with family members is a no-brainer.
However, not all families or family members are the same. Though they are supposed to guide and protect you, they may not be doing this the way they should be. This may get you thinking – Is this how normal families function? What is a healthy relationship with your family? How to become closer to your family?
It is indeed true that your family should be accepting you without bias or judgment. But there are steps you can initiate to improve ties with your family. It would be unfair to place the entire blame on others.
There is no denying that family and relationships are important. You should do everything in your power to improve relationships with family.
Here are a few family relationship tips that you may find helpful.
8 ways to deal with toxic relatives who disrespect you
Disrespectful behavior from a relative is not a pleasant or easy situation to deal with. However, there are no two ways about it – family ties are important. So let us see how to deal with rude family members.
When your relationship with a person outside your family circle is strained and there is no hope for improvement, you always have the choice to walk out of the relationship. You can always move away from the stress-causing situation.
With family members it is different. With them, you are obligated to make an extra special effort to make the relationship work. Even if you want to, you cannot get rid of the relationship or forget about it. And, your strained relationship with one family member is bound to affect the mutual relationships among all family members.
However, putting up with toxic behavior is detrimental to your mental health. For your sake and the sake of the happiness and peace of the entire family, you must learn how to effectively deal with such controlling family members.
Here are some tips for dealing with a relative that disrespects you.
1. Don’t try to reason with or correct the erring family member.
If you want to be accepted as you are, you should learn to accept others as they are, warts and all. Oftentimes, conflict happens because you tend to accuse and change the other person. Even if you are on the right side of the fence, pointing fingers or forcing the person to change behavior is not going to get you anywhere. Most probably, this will backfire on you.
2. Be direct in your dealings with them.
There is no point in approaching the topic in a roundabout way. It can only make matters worse. Avoid a defensive or fight-or-flight approach. Be honest and assertive when you are expressing your reservations about their behavior. Avoid blame games and smear campaigns.
3. Stay focused on your response.
Never let it get out of control. Learn to keep your emotions in check. When you feel the situation is beyond repair, stop the conversation and remove yourself from the scene until things cool down.
4. Encourage them to talk about their feelings.
For all you know, they may be going through some difficult times and this is their way of dealing with their emotional turmoil. If you can help them get over their troubles, their behavior towards you may transform. And your helping hand may end up strengthening your bond.
5. Look out for triggers.
You two may have disagreements or diverse viewpoints on certain topics. Scanning your memory for what caused flare-ups in the past can be helpful. If possible, you can clear the misunderstanding with an open discussion on the topic. If this is not workable, try to avoid them at all costs. Stay alert not to get dragged into such interactions.
6. Realize that not all topics are up for debate.
This rule applies to everyone. Make sure that you are not overstepping boundaries. And clearly define boundaries with your family members. Some topics are absolutely off-limits.
7. Try not to take it personally.
Often, the outbursts or mean behavior may be a result of their misplaced expectations or a mixed-up sense of right and wrong. When you are blamed or held responsible for something or someone, it is hard not to take it personally. When you notice the conversation going in this direction, kill it right there. Don’t allow the conversation to reach the tipping point.
8. Prioritize your well-being.
Yes, it is indeed true that you need to have good relationships with your family members. But definitely not at the cost of your own welfare. Set your boundaries and make sure no one violates them.
Tips for building stronger relationships with your family
Healthy family bonds are vital for your mental health and well-being. You can take the initiative to build strong relationships with your family members and to improve strained relations.
Here are some suggestions to help with this.
- Open lines of communication are the key to building stronger relationships in your family. It is as much about expressing your feelings and thoughts as it is about learning to listen to others.
- Offer your undivided attention when a family member is talking. Desist from giving unwanted advice. When you are talking, talk about how you are feeling and not about how you are perceiving the actions of others. This will get you into unnecessary confrontations.
- Don’t compromise on family time. Ensure you have at least one meal together every day. Family vacations and outings are good opportunities to work together as a family.
- Encourage all family members to share their feelings and thoughts. Children who are encouraged to do this grow up into well-balanced adults.
- Everyone is special and has equal status in a family. Make sure that your views are not biased. Learn to share and care.
- Look out for opportunities to connect with your family members.
- Conflicts are unavoidable, even in the most loving families. It is how the conflict is handled that matters. Sometimes you can resolve them amicably or agree to disagree. Strong families can work through their differences by focusing on the issues rather than point fingers at each other.
The importance of creating a healthy relationship with your family cannot be denied. Your family can be your biggest fans, best friends, advocates, and defenders. When you have such a wonderful resource within reach, why waste it?
But there is no denying that family members can be controlling, difficult, and toxic. Dealing with negative, difficult, or ungrateful family members requires patience, willpower, and persistence. Once you manage to win them over, they can be your best cheerleaders.
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