Are Your Relatives Toxic? How to Deal With Family Problems

Learning how to deal family problems doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s worth the effort. Why? Because your health and happiness is at stake! And so is the health and happiness of your family.

You can’t change your family, but you can change how you deal with them. These tips on how to cope with toxic family problems and relationships are inspired by a reader who doesn’t want to talk to her mom anymore.

On my article about dealing with difficult parents, a reader said she decided to completely cut ties with her mom. Her mother constantly criticized her and her boyfriend, tried to manipulate them into lending money, and called and texted at all hours of the night. My reader doesn’t know what to do anymore, she’s tired of it, and she doesn’t know how to handle family problems. It’s been going on for four years, and she wants to cut her mother out of her life. Below are my suggestions for her, which may help you deal with your own relatives.

Some family problems can’t be solved, and you can’t change any one of your family members. The only thing you can do to solve family problems is to change your response to your relatives. This is the best tip because it gives you some power. You’ll never have enough power to change your toxic relatives, but you can find the strength you need to respond to them differently.

6 Ways to Deal With Family Problems

The best tip on how to handle family problems is to try different things until you find what works for you and your family.

If you’re struggling with potential in-laws, read How to Stop Your Boyfriend’s Mother From Ruining Your Relationship.

1. Get in-person or online counseling support

I’m not a certified counselor or life coach, and I can’t offer online counseling here. But, there are hundreds of online counselors and psychologists who can help you solve your relationship and family problems – and I suspect there are many counselors, life coaches, and psychologists in your area. You don’t need to commit to years of therapy; sometimes all you need is a session or two to give you the guidance and support you need.

2. Find a support group

I’ve recently joined a “support group” (it’s more of a book club) of women who need to set and stick to healthy boundaries. Talking with people who have similar problems and experiences is a great way to find solutions! My support group is studying the Boundaries book, and we discuss both the book and our personal life experiences. A support group can help you solve problems and make you feel less alone.

If alcohol, drug, or other addictions are complicating your family problems, contact a group such as Al-Anon. Find people who are going through something similar.

If one of your family members is struggling with alcoholism, you may find 6 Ways to Help an Alcoholic Brother or Sister helpful.

3. Look for books that address your relationship or family problem

I’m a huge fan of reading books that directly relate to what I’m going through! My husband and I are dealing with infertility, and so we both read books on living a childless life. My mom is mentally ill, so I’ve read a ton of literature on how schizophrenia affects family life – and I even got a degree in Psychology! If you need to solve toxic family relationships and learn how to handle family problems, sometimes it’s most helpful to go the library and look for the right books.

4. Remove yourself from the situation – find ways to get unstuck

I often get comments and questions about bad breakups, unhealthy relationships, toxic parents, family problems, and other situations that I can’t provide adequate advice for.

coping with family problems

“How to Solve Family Problems” image via Elaine Mao, Wikimedia, CC License

So many people say they’re “stuck”, they can’t get out, and they don’t know what to do. One possibility is to remove themselves from the situation – as difficult as it may be! That may mean letting go of someone you love because it’s a bad relationship. Or, it could mean changing the expectations you have of your loved ones. Sometimes the only solution for relationship and family problems is to take a step back and give yourself time to breathe and think. In the meantime, get in-person or online counseling help!

5. Talk to a life coach about how to handle family problems

You don’t necessarily have to see a therapist or counsellor when you’re learning how to deal with toxic relatives. Sometimes a life coach can offer more practical and “actionable” tips for handling family problems.

If you’re dealing with marriage problems, consider talking to a marriage coach. I’ve heard nothing but good about marriage coach Mert Fertel, who helps couples rebuild unhappy relationships. If online marriage counseling doesn’t work for you, then talk to a life coach, your pastor, or even a wise trusted mentor. To solve your problems and achieve your goals, you need to find the right people who can help you!

6. Get as emotionally and physically healthy as possible

You can’t change your partners, friends, or family members. It’s futile to wish they were different or try to change them into different people. But, you can change your expectations, your responses, your attitudes, and your thoughts. And that’s where books like Boundaries are so important in when you’re learning how to handle family problems. Get your mind, heart, body, and souls as physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy as possible – without worrying about trying to solve all your relationship and family problems.

How to Solve Family Problems Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is an excellent resource for solving family problems. You have to figure what is your responsibility and what is your family’s (those are your boundaries). Then, you need to be firm about setting and sticking to your boundaries.

I welcome your thoughts below. I can’t give advice on how to solve family problems, but sometimes it helps just to write about how you feel. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you gain more insight into your relatives.


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6 thoughts on “Are Your Relatives Toxic? How to Deal With Family Problems”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    If you can’t solve your family problems on your own (and most of us can’t!), then you need to talk to somebody in person. Find someone wise and trustworthy, and share what you’re going through.

    It’s scary and sometimes embarrassing and even shameful to open up about family problems, but honestly it’s the only way to solve them. You need to talk through your problems before you can fix them.

    Can you do this?

  2. I’ve had family problems my whole life and I do not know why.Its like I’m in a living hell. my late mother also complained. I do not know what to do.

  3. Hi there, my name is nicole i am 24 and married with 3 children, i am seeking some kind of support or help, me and my husband have lost eachother so bad. he was such a wonderful husband always made me laugh and the best dad you could ever ask for. But he doesnt laugh with me anymore all he ever laughs with are the ppl he works with and as soon as he comes back home from a week away he doesnt seem happy with me or his kids. i try to talk to him about it but he just just gets upset because he’s taking it the wrong way . yes i do get mad but thats only because i could talk to him about his kids and my feelings to him always leaving and he shuts us out with either the tv or he just says OK! IM SORRY! just to shut me up. yes i do feel like he is probaly feeling bombarded by all my concerns and worries with him . please help what do i do how to i make myself better for him and me to be happy

  4. Iam and adult child living back home with my child. I left and abusive marrage. Now I am living with my parents I love them dearly but the way they raise thier children is differt. My mother is always butting in when my daughter and I aruge then my daugher is now getting her way. It is very upsetting that no is backing me up. I don’t know what to do anymore.

  5. For the Women. Who do you let check the oil and water in your car for you and why? Secondly How often do they check it for you? Thirdly when is the last time they checked it for you?