4 Peace-Loving Ways to Embrace Miserable In-Laws

How do you handle in-laws who ignore you – or are hurtful? These tips for visiting miserable relatives are inspired by a reader’s question on my article about difficult parents.

Should You Visit In-Laws and Family Members Who Are HurtfulIf your mother-in-law, father-in-law, or other family members ignore you or get under your skin in the worst possible way, read Toxic In-Laws: Loving Strategies for Protecting Your Marriage by Susan Forward. It’s a bestselling book on balancing in-laws and marriage. There are no quick tips or easy solutions for dealing with abusive, toxic, or hurtful in laws. You need to learn strategies that are effective, and apply them to your relationships.

Here’s my reader’s question: “Should I continue to go to my in-laws’ family events at their home, for my husband’s and daughter’s sake, even though I have grown to despise these people?” asks M. on my article about dealing with toxic people. “My husband agrees they are miserable, but his preference is to see them a few times a year and ignore their rudeness. He sees their unhappiness and jealousy. But the healthier I have become the more I see the toxicity. My in laws ignore me and I’m tired of it.”

There are no “right” answers to this question. You have to decide what’s best for you and your family. My thoughts about spending time with family members who are emotionally unhealthy are based on my experience with a mom who has suffered from schizophrenia my whole life. I don’t believe in cutting off family members unless they are abusive…but different people see things in different ways. Read my thoughts for coping with hurtful in laws who ignore you, and tell me what you think.

If you find that your family is negatively affecting the way you see yourself, read How to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Good Enough.

4 Peace-Loving Ways to Embrace Miserable In-Laws

My friend and her husband refuse to visit her family members because they have political arguments that she’s not interested in. She doesn’t “get” them, so she refuses to visit them. Thy don’t have a problem with ignoring their in laws and family members because it’s a deliberate choice they made.

My sister is the same way. She hasn’t spoken to my mother for over a decade, because my mom is mentally ill and my sister doesn’t feel like talking to her.

Those are personal choices. I wouldn’t choose to ignore my in laws or family members, because I believe that not seeing eye-to-eye with your family members or in-laws doesn’t mean you should to ignore their existence. I’m not saying you have to live with them or visit them every Sunday afternoon…I’m encouraging you to visit or talk to a hurtful or toxic family member once every few months.

In this article, I’m not talking about physically or emotionally abusive in laws or family members. I’m focusing on in-laws and family members who are merely irritating, crazy-making, critical, negative, judgmental, and even miserable. If you are being harmed (not just annoyed or hurt) by anyone – family or not – you need to do anything you can to protect yourself and your children.

1. Do your best to live in harmony – for your own peace of mind

Find ways to rise above your in laws’ behavior, and don’t let it affect your mood or spirit. If you have kids those miserable family visits can even be teachable moments. You might use those negative, toxic comments and behaviors to teach life and relationship lessons. Discuss how to live a meaningful, happy, healthy life – and how to handle miserable people without letting them wreck your day. If you don’t have kids, take a deep breath and be thankful that you aren’t the miserable in law who is ignoring you.

If your difficult mother-in-law refuses to visit your home, talk to your daughter about the importance of accepting other people’s lifestyles and showing compassion and love no matter how a person lives. You don’t have to criticize your hurtful in-law or ignore her; you need only verbalize your belief that people shouldn’t be judged by the size or shape their homes are in.

And, remember that your daughter may one day marry a man who doesn’t like you, who doesn’t want to visit you! By honoring and respecting your in-laws – even though they are hurtful – you’re teaching your daughter to do the same for you one day.

Even more important: if you live in peace as far as it depends on you, then you can sleep with a clear conscience. You can’t change your family members, but you can learn how to deal with difficult parents.

2. Put your emotional health to work

“My mother- in-law always criticizes us, and rubs in the fact that they had more at our age and we are a major disappointment,” says A. “Their other children are divorced, out of work, and are always asking for handouts – yet they get all the approval. My husband and I are treated like second class citizens.”

toxic in laws ignore me

How to Handle Hurtful In Laws

Ouch – I would hate that. Yes, it would hurt me to be compared with other family members and come up short, to be treated like a second class citizen. Being emotionally and spiritually strong doesn’t just help you identify toxicity and problems quickly, it gives you the strength to cope with those problems.

What’s the point of being emotionally healthy if you turn and run from in-laws and family members who hurt you? Don’t just say you’re emotionally healthy (“talk the talk”). Prove it (“walk the walk”)!

You need to decide what’s best for you and your marriage. But, I think it’s better for an emotionally strong, healthy woman to visit a toxic mother-in-law a few times a year than to avoid her altogether – especially if your husband wants to see his mom.

3. Be aware of your family’s hurts, wounds, mistakes

There’s something about family that drives us crazy. Family members get under our skin and make us angrier, more frustrated, and more nuts than any other people on earth (except maybe our own children). If you can see your family members with compassion and even love, you’ll be less hurt when they do and say mean things. If you can see through their behavior, you may not find it hurtful if your in laws ignore you.

Put down your hurt and thoughts that “they shouldn’t be that way.” For example, instead of being angry that my mom has never offered me any type of support in my life because of her mental illness, I focus on how sorry I am that she is who she is. I can’t resent her when I feel compassion for her illness, wounds, and mistakes. She is who she is.

Parents, including in-laws, have wounds that make them act in hurtful ways to the family members they love. They don’t behave in loving, caring and supportive ways – perhaps they can’t.

One peace-loving way to embrace hurtful in laws who ignore you is to think about and discuss how they were raised, what hardships they endured, and how they coped. Talk to your husband about his family’s past. You might even try talking to your hurtful in laws.

4. Focus on what your in-laws do and did right

“I have been married to an amazing man – their son – for 25 years,” was one of the first things my reader said. That statement alone shows that her in-laws did at least one good thing with their lives: they raised a loving, kind, compassionate, faithful man! There’s a lot to be said for that. Your in laws may ignore or hurt you, but they raised your husband.

Very few people – including difficult parents – are bad through and through. Give them credit where credit is due. Focus on the good, and shake off the bad.

For more practical tips on visiting family members or in-laws who ignore or hurt you, read 6 Tips for Toxic Relatives – How to Handle Family Problems.

What do you think of these tips for visiting family members or in laws who ignore you? Comments welcome below…I can’t offer advice, but I welcome your thoughts.


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35 thoughts on “4 Peace-Loving Ways to Embrace Miserable In-Laws”

  1. My nasty father in law told me never liked me and that he strongly disliked his baby Grandson – my baby! I’ve never been able to move on from that as it’s not something that can be fixed. It wasn’t said in the heat of the moment or during an argument. It was his response to me when I asked why he treated the way he did. Somethings cannot be unsaid.

    I decided enough was enough. I’d tried to be loving and helpful and to be part of their family but unfortunately I never lived up to expectations.

    After being told to my face how he viewed me I made the decision not to put myself in any situations where I’d be in the same room as him. This helped me regain self esteem.

    Now he is a very elderly man who regrets that he doesn’t have the physical support from me that he could have had. I almost feel sorry for him.

  2. I have been married for over 27 years & my in-laws have never asked me anything about my family, my parents both died when I was young & I was raised by an Aunt & Uncle. They talk only about themselves. The whole focus is on the core family, the kids are all grown up. The adult children do the same & even talk over me! Really it is all I can do to hold my emotions together & not storm out. My husband says nothing to them about the disrespectful way I am treated.
    I am ready to forego socializing with them….always a one way street. I have always allowed my husband & son to attend but, I dread going. I now have health problems & the negativity is too much. I may stay home next time.

    1. Dear Emily,

      After reading your comment, I feel compelled to comment on your post. My last comment was posted on April 17th, 2016 (see below). As you can read, I had to extricate myself from a highly toxic situation as I was actively bullied by a mentally unstable mother in Law. Fast forward 2 years and she is still alive, still bullying everyone around her including her dear son (my husband) but I am happy to announce that she is no longer bullying me. The best decision I ever made was to cut her out of my life and I do not regret my decision for a moment. I don’t even allow myself to be within a mile radius from her. I am fine not participating in family get-togethers as long as I have peace in my life. There is no price tag for peace. I have come to the realization that nothing will ever change this woman. She is a textbook narcissist and an emotional vampire who will lash out at anyone for no rhyme or reason. This past week, my daughter was visiting us from college during her spring break. My husband insisted she goes and visits her “granny” ( I am cringing right now) which she did reluctantly, knowing all to well that she would be stepping into a minefield. Lo and behold, my daughter came back from her house crying and distraught. I knew from the minute I saw her that the crazy old bat had most likely lashed out at her. In fact, this is exactly what happened. However, my daughter stormed out of her house before things got uglier. In the past, my poor sweetie would sit there and take it while her dad sat there helplessly allowing the abuse to take place in front of his eyes. NO MORE! My daughter will never again step into this woman’s house. I am so happy that she finally came to that realization on her own. Although my decision to sever ties with my MIL was a standalone decision, I had never imposed it on my daughter. However, I was always watchful from afar and ready to jump in if things got too heated.

      The reason why I am telling you my story is because I wanted you to compare your situation to mine. Your feelings are completely valid. Being ignored is no fun. You feel disrespected and undermined and wonder why on earth you should bother being around people who seemingly don’t care about you enough to inquire about your life. You feel like a ghost. I also understand why the fact that your husband won’t face them makes you mad. After all, once he married you, he married into a new family and should theoretically put you first in his life and readily defend you against his uncaring and rude family. The reality unfortunately is a lot more complicated. Look at families as complicated webs with tightly weaved strings. He has known his family a lot longer than he’s known you. I know…so what.. right? He is conflicted between his loyalty to his birth family and his loyalty to you. Most men have a very difficult time navigating these stormy waters and will settle for what feels most natural to them. All you can do is gently remind him that your feelings are being hurt and that you always feel shadowed in the presence of his family. Hopefully, he will get a hint. Another advice (take it with a grain of salt) is perhaps not participating in all those family get-togethers. Just reserve your energy for major holidays. You could look at it as you taking the high road and being there when it matters most for your husband and son. These people don’t seem to be abusive. They just seem to be dismissive. Am I correct? The worse that could happen if you decided to lighten your foot would be for your husband to ask you why you don’t want to attend get-togethers. You already know the answer to that question. It is important you remain consistent. If getting together with them makes you feel miserable, you owe it to yourself to find peace in your life and you can do it without upsetting the balance to the point of no return.

      Hope this helps..Best of luck!

  3. I’m coming from a psychology background and as someone whose marriage was nearly ripped apart by toxic inlaws (yes we go through it as well ). My story short for the sake of my husband and children I ignored my own treatment by my inlaws, I became “friendly” with my inlaws and thought we’d grown from the past only for all 3 sister inlaws to redirect toxic behaviour toward my 6 year old as I was letting it slide against me. This is where the line gets drawn and the inlaws get cut off. Toxic behaviour doesn’t get better, it gets worse the longer you tolerate it

  4. Hi arubiana,

    I have no idea what you should do to deal with your toxic and unhappy in-laws. It does sound like you are being bullied, and they are causing problems with your granddaughter, too.

    What would it feel like to simply accept the fact that since your in-laws have ignored you for 26 years, there may be nothing you can do to change your relationship with them?

    1. Thank you for your kind reply. I have tried to accept it. But as the end of my years draws near barring some accident or trauma, there are basically perhaps 15 years more to my life, may be less for them (they are 70), I find it harder and harder to have no closure, to not have some interaction with my daughter, the son in law I have never met, the grandchild I have no picture of. The inlaws who have never said hello or sent a card. My overtures are not answered. My daughter’s behavior was so bad that I am sure she discourages all contact so they won’t find out. (they are up north, I am alone down south). It just seems unfinished and bothers me terribly. My brother died years ago, I have no third party to interact for me, and don’t know if that would even help. I keep thinking of the novel “Sylvia Garland’s Broken Heart” where Helen Harris wrote of the plight of grandparents cut off, but there seems no resolution to this one. Thanks again

  5. Need some help with inlaws who have ignored me for 26 years. I was left out of my only child’s wedding at her direction (don’t want you to start WWIII with Dad) (Not) and left out of the birth and raising of my 5 year old granddaughter, don’t even have a pic of her. This is bullying in my books and I am tired of being excluded all these long years. What do you advise?

  6. Susan Forward’s book literally changed our life for the better. My husband and I walked away from a toxic & volatile mess in our in-laws.

  7. Agreed, bullying aggressive in laws are not conducive to s healthy happy prosperous marriage. After 5 years of being the “bad guy” (we both left our spouses to be together) I’ve decided I’ll no longer try to salvage what potential relationship I thought I could have with my new in laws. I’ve loved and cared for their daughter beyond words , she is the love of my life and the most important person on this planet. Her mother has neither the decency nor the intelligence to let me be part of her life. She’s constantly spewed poison in my direction , full of vile and spite and never giving me any kudos for trying my best for her daughter and grandkids. 5 years later she still Skypes and talks with her ex son in law who pays no child support and who does very little for his kids. I’m the guy who’s taken her grandkids to Disneyworld among hundreds of other venues. I’ve also done a lot for her son (my wife’s brother) yet she sees nothing positive in any of it. No matter what I do it’s meaningless to her. Now her grandkids are visiting her in the Ukraine for 6 weeks and I can only imagine the negativity she will throw at them about me. Well , my 50th birthday is approaching , I’ve told my wife that if nothing changes then there is nothing left for me to do and this bridge will be forever burnt.
    Hurtful, spiteful and hateful sums up my Mother in law and cutting off any further contact with them will in the very least hopefully give me some sanity and self respect back.

  8. I don’t agree with this article. If your own family or extended family (including inlaws) are rude to you when you visit and you have no regular interaction, it just doesn’t make sense to attend once or twice a year and participate in a shooting gallery where you are the sitting ducks ! I refuse to engage in negative behavior and I also refuse to sit quietly and politely when being shot at. Accordingly, I only visit people, family or otherwise that are genuinely happy to see me, and we have a great time together. Avoid all people who are abusive to you verbally or otherwise, whether they are family or not. It’s called self-respect. Visiting and looking the other way through insults, criticisms and slights is not a good life lesson for anyone. Setting parameters that show you must be polite and respectful of other folks, if not, move on, to people who do respect you, to me that is a better life lesson to be taught. Toxic folks can hang with themselves and get their jollies somewhere else and at someone else’s expense.

    1. Susan,

      I couldn’t agree more with you and completely disagree with this article. Clearly the author has never been subjected to verbal abuse from an in-law or might have been which in that case is on the right track for being canonized. I suffered for years at the hands of a verbally abusive mother in law and had to walk on eggshells around her all the time from fear of being at the receiving end of demeaning comments and oftentimes yelling. I am convinced that she is mentally unstable but her children consistently choose to look the other way. Their argument: “Oh you know..she’s an old lady and when you get old you just utter whatever comes up to you..”. I finally, after 10 years of putting up with her despicable behavior decided to cut her out of my life. Fast forward 3 years, I do not regret my decision in the least. Unfortunately my husband, a self-proclaimed moma’s boy never once truly supported me. I know that he’s in many ways a lot happier about not being stuck in the middle but he will always put her first. My decision although being unavoidable came at a great cost since by cutting ties with her I eventually cut ties with all my other in-laws. They are not bad people but their loyalty understandably will always lie with their mother and I will forever be the outcast. That’s alright with me because in the end the last thing I would ever want is for my only daughter to think that taking abuse from anyone is OK.

  9. Just today I got an email from my sister-in-law who lives
    in another state. I invited her to Thanksgiving and was
    looking forward to her visit. My husband, her brother,
    was too. I was getting the house ready for her to come.
    She was going to have her dog with her and would need
    a place for him to stay so I offered our back yard. I did
    all I could to welcome her. Her past emails have been
    cordial and even friendly. But two days ago I got this
    intuition that her motives for coming were not good. I
    prayed about it and asked God to show me if what I felt
    was valid or not. In no way did any of her previous emails
    indicate that she had bad intentions. There was nothing
    unusual about her emails nor were they angry in any way.
    They were quite pleasant so I asked God to show me why
    I was feeling this way. This morning I got up to find 2 emails
    filled with venom from her, angry at me and her brother for
    what she thinks we are doing to her manipulative mother,
    who calls her (she lives 500 miles away) to tattle on us, even
    though we do everything we can to help her and it’s never
    enough. She lives hundreds of miles away so
    we are the only ones living close by to help THEIR mother.
    The more we do for her (the mom) the more she complains about us.
    We have bent over backwards for her and yet we are insulted
    and verbally abused by her. But my sis-in-law only hears one
    side. She thinks because my mother in law is elderly she gets
    a free pass. However, my mom-in-law has acted this way since
    I met her almost 40 yrs ago. Now the M-in-law is trying to turn
    our grown kids against us. (They however are ‘on to her” and know
    what she’s doing). My sis-in-law is very jealous of what she
    perceives to be our “perfect life” which of course is not the case
    at all. We have a good marriage, for which I am grateful, but
    we’ve been through some hard times like everyone else. I just
    don’t complain about it to her. Now she said in one of her emails,
    that she doesn’t mind “ruffling the feathers” of our family when she comes,
    whatever that means. I just know it’s not good.
    And therefore, because I prayed and asked God to show me
    what she was up to, without any real reason to do so except a
    “knowing” inside, He did. We must have boundaries to live in
    this world. I told her she could not come and if my husband wants
    to meet with her, that’s up to him. But she is up to something,
    and I won’t allow her to come against my family like that. It’s too
    bad because I really was starting to like her, in spite of past issues.
    I had totally forgiven her and felt like she was a “sister” to me.
    She just proved that she has not changed. I will still pray for her
    and continue to care about her. And I’ll probably in many ways
    miss her. But I’ll not allow her into my personal space again. The
    bible says “As much as it is up to you, live at peace with all people”
    It seems to me that He was acknowledging that some people
    would not cooperate but if you’ve done all you could to keep peace,
    and they refuse to live at peace with you, you can’t make them
    change if they don’t want to.

  10. 30 years of battering

    I did exactly what this article has suggested for 30 years. I have a happy marriage. My husband is the product of very narcissistic parents and older sister. He has all sorts of baggage. He has a very low self esteem, very insecure and extremely immature. However he is a wonderful father and husband. I chose to stay and try to make my in-laws like me. For YEARS I did anything I could to please them. They never say things in front of him, instead they complement me, “you are so pretty, what an amazing cook, such a talented lady, etc. etc.” Then behind my back and I am terrible mother, terrible wife, pathological liar, I dress wrong, I talk wrong, there is nothing I can do right. They spread this to other family members and their friends until I have felt so isolated and unable to really connect with anyone in his family or their family friends. I have had people who have never met me give me the total cold shoulder and be down right rude to me over these comments. Yet I had the attitude that if I took the higher ground and had class that my true self would shine through. Honestly it has just made things worse. The happier my husband and I are over the years the more they hate me and are jealous and petty. The nicer I am the more they seem to take shots at me behind my back even though they must know that people tell me what is said. From the day I met my husband at the age of 16 this has been going on. It has become a very bad habit for them because I have not called an end to it. I have stood up on occasion but never really stood my ground in a forceful way. Because they are so careful around my husband it has become difficult to defend myself. Any time I have stood up for myself they call me over sensitive and that they can not say anything to me, in front of my husband. This leaves him in a very bad position. Does he believe his father, mother and sister? or his wife?
    The final straw for me was this past Christmas. My son is 12 now and is much more aware of what is going on. He told me that when I walked out of the room that my sister in law called me a derogatory name. He told her to “zip it” and she told him that she was just teasing and made a big goofy joke about it.
    This is the progression of you taking the higher road. Toxicity is not happy just hurting you but they want to hurt your children as well. It is a total destroy package. They will try and destroy you to the core, meaning the relationships you have with your own children. There is nothing lower except actual murder to me. My husband, son and I have a very good, strong relationship but my son being exposed to his family members belittling and disrespecting his mother really is the final straw and it is 100% my fault for not either walking away from these people at the very beginning of my relationship or drawing a very defined and strong line in the sand as soon as we were married. These types of people, and I believe they are really narcissists to the core, can only think of they own wants and needs, they will destroy anything and everything that they can not control or they are jealous of. You can say that it will not effect your marriage but this is just a fallacy. resentment builds if you continue to ignore or live with it and it spills over into your otherwise wonderful marriage. Please take it from me. First talk with your partner about it and if he truly loves and supports you he will go with you to confront these people. Tell them that this is unacceptable and if the back stabbing or bad behavior does not stop immediately (They have the will power if they choose to stop the bashing) that you both and your children will not longer visit them or accept visits from them, Period. Nip it as strongly as you can without acting like a jerk. Focusing on the rights/good that they have done will never forgive or undo the wrongs these people can do to your family. Often times these types of people will offer money, gifts, be very charming to keep the cycle going for them. They enjoy this drama very much. It makes them feel powerful and gives them a high. If left to it’s own or given just a little line it will grow into the destruction of your marriage and the respect of your spouse/children towards you. I am sure each person is different and there are levels of evil but the people I have dealt with are very wealthy and very well respected in their community. True Narcissists are extremely charming to the outside world. I love my husband and my son but if I had it to do all over again I would have ran like hell when we were dating. It destroys your own self esteem and chips away at your self worth over time until you really have no idea of who you really are. You are left feeling that if you died tomorrow that there would be more people in this group that celebrated your demise then not. That is NO WAY for any person to live or to be treated.

    1. Wow!!! You have exposed everything I have been feeling and sensing. I have just started taking action in reclaiming my life by taking strong measures by not feeling guilty for protecting my family. You are right, these kind of people dont seem to change, infact, they love thrive on the drama. They feel powerful to control you using guilt, your spouse or your children. DONT FALL FOR IT!!! LIfe is too short to be around these kind of miserable people. If not careful you will be pulled into the drama.

  11. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your thoughts on visiting family members who are toxic and hurtful! I really appreciate your insights and feedback.

    The awesome thing is that we are free to make our own choices. I would never refuse to stop speaking to my mom or sister or any family member, unless they consciously chose to hurt me or others.

    You may feel differently, and that’s fine! We can’t all have the same opinions – and each family is different. If I lived in your family, maybe I’d have a different opinion on visiting family members who are hurtful or toxic. But I live in my family, and I have my own ideas.

    May you find positive, healthy, uplifting ways to cope with your family issues. I wish you peace, joy, and all good things as you sort through your own thoughts and feelings about your family members.


  12. Encouraging toleration of any type of abuse is monstrous and irresponsible.

    I personally have been dealing with a sick/enmeshed/bullying nest of vipers. Their sickness and our toleration of it for years has caused me to have to see a therapist for almost 3 years, in order to establish boundaries. They have caused marital problems, countless anxiety attacks, sleepless nights,a stressful pregnancy, and YEARS of suffering to both my husband and myself. My husband took up smoking and has been stressed out of his mind as a result of his family. He is finally in therapy on his own and has followed advice to disconnect from them until they can get help themselves.

    These people do not respect boundaries. They do not give common respect. They make hit and run comments, are intrusive, and are often times, downright ABUSIVE- despite the clear fact that we have done nothing but try to please them.

    Our therapist(s) have suggested we cut them off entirely. Our friends, who are acquainted with them, have suggested we completely distance ourselves from the drama.

    I CANNOT imagine anyone encouraging me to visit with these people/continue to take the abuse.

    I truly hope no one takes these suggestions to visit family members who are hurtful seriously. It has the potential to influence some suggestible person who is perhaps wavering with the decision to protect him/herself from seriously toxic people, or continue to endure abusive behavior. For some one who has suffered abuse at an early age, I find this article not only horrendously offensive, I find it immensely triggering as well.


    Under NO circumstances should you tolerate ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR. Regardless of being FAMILY to either you or your spouse, these people are not entitled to a free ticket into your life if they treat you in a way that causes distress and emotional upheaval.

    This article is poor advice by some one who sums up the complexities of family dysfunction poorly, gives substandard and dangerous advice, and advocates for allowing children to witness fighting/toleration of abuse.

    Please seek therapy if you are involved in an emotionally abusive relationship with in laws or family. You have the right to boundaries. You have the right to exclude these people from your life.

    You have clearly started your journey to protecting yourself by searching “toxic in laws” to gain insight. Keep looking- there is excellent advice out there. Therapy will help. You deserve better!

  13. I don’t exactly understand the logic that is driving this advice. The people who do not expose themselves to unhealthy social interactions are selfish and the people who use these interactions for the sake of “teachable moments” for their children are not selfish? This is not well thought out advice based on biblical, psychological or even logical principles. This is condoning unhealthy behavior for the sake of unrealistic “teachable moments”. If your children only visit you later in life because you exposed them to unhealthy social interactions then you are really doing something wrong. Sorry. This advice, although seemingly well meaning, lacks substance and insight. The author might do well to explore her own biases against the people she called “selfish” for doing what feels healthy for them.

  14. I can’t agree here at all. You’re promoting the idea of visiting with people who are miserable to you? I don’t get it. Your advocating for going back for more? Holidays with negative people who, rather than enrich your life, drive you nuts?

    Are you seriously suggesting its healthy for a child to see their parent in an abusive situation and take it in stride? Its very dangerous to suggest that people put up with emotionally abusive situations.

  15. If someone (no matter family, or not) is verbally or physically abusing you (or worse–someone you love deeply) then you should leave. Bullying and abuse should NOT be tolerated by anyone. This article is enabling her behavior.

    What kind of example would be set, when someone is being verbally or physically abused in front of theri children? They should sit back and tolerate it–because this is what “family” is like? What statement does that say to our children? Leave. Don’t visit family members who are hurtful.

  16. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments on how to visit in-laws and family members who are hurtful! I really like to hear what people think of my articles.

    If you’re having problems with difficult family members and in-laws, l wish you peace and joy and restoration of your family relationships.

  17. I agree with this article. I have in laws who are miserable but I know it means a lot to my husband for us to see them once a month. They gossip and give dirty looks to me. I am a strong person and just blow it off. If I truly cared what they think, it would hurt me. That is the key- not caring and needing approval from these strangers. If someone is directly insulting you, yes, avoid them. Dirty looks and snarky comments can be blown off easily if you only see these people here and there. Heck my husband hates them and I spend time alone with his mean mother because then we got our visits over with. That is what we do as married people. Suck it up.

    1. Wow really!? My guess is you might be similar personality like them. Thats why it does not bother you, I could be wrong but I m guessing thats why. . Most kind people treat others as they want to be treated ( that is in kindness) not BULLYING or being negative condesending, mocking, critical etc.. If you are not like them then well I admire you but I have a feeling then you might be suppressing something and eventually you will blow up? Or you might get depressed or have anger problems. So I would be careful…seriously. It is very interesting that these toxic people hate being away from the people they despise &victimise…the most feared word to them is being “cut off” or taking their power is a big threat to them. I am suspcious of anyone who advises just take it and suck it up. Is that what you want your victims to do, yes you would get a real high on that! If you are not an offender yourself then forgive me :)

    2. Not everyone is like you! Especially for nice people. I guess you are able to take abuse and keep walking. Do you say anything to them when they are out of line? or you just fake it and ignore any insult. I guess may be your conflict with may not have reached that level and may not be as severe as what other people are experiencing.

  18. Its really painful to be abused by the family of ur husband only because their brother or child loves u, actually y are interfeering into ur relationship, like me i wont accept that rubbish dey busy swearing at me for not having de baby infact i wont steal other peoples baby n the baby is the gift frm God n wat Ive noticed with the inlaws their problem is that money is everything. If u can stop doing ur things with ur husband money n give that money to dem ull c dey will love u

  19. I don’t agree with you at all. Forgiveness does not mean you have to continue to subject yourself to the abuse. No one should be obligated to have contact with those who seek to destroy your well being. There is nothing healthy, rewarding, or healing in doing that! I am the victim of 25 years of emotional abuse. I’ve tried every thing in the book….sitting down and expressing my feelings–result: was told I was imagining things and being too sensitive, limiting visits–result: guilt trips and accusations of being selfish and uncaring. The only thing that will keep me sane is no contact. I’m cutting the ties. I believe I’ve earned the right after 25 years of trying to make it work “for the sake of family.”

    1. Good for you! Keep praying God to help you and dont hold grudges or resentment. Enjoy your freedom.Its an excellent choice not to surround yourself with vampires.

  20. This is the worst advice ever given. While I applaud your sunny attitude on the matter, reality and trusting your own intuition and feelings is of the utmost importance when dealing with our relationships. Especially when children are involved. What does it say to children who watch their parents get belittled, insulted and put down constantly by relatives? It sends the message of “they get a pass because their family”. I’m sorry but showing compassion begins with yourself first. I highly encourage anyone who is in a toxic relationship to dare greatly and let your feelings be known, and if the aggressor cannot make changes then it’s time for you to do what is best for yourself. How can we be good parents when our spirit is being constantly attacked and wounded? You can’t, trying to deflect constant negative behavior by unloving or mentally ill souls is exhausting. You won’t get special treatment in heaven for letting people crap on you, sorry. Be a strong positive force and fill your life with those who uplift you. Not those trying to bring you down to their level. I find this article very judging. I can talk the talk because I have a mentally ill parent and inlaws with major narcissitic\codependancy issues. To knowingly let my kids be in these environments with people like that would be child abuse. Don’t be critical of your sister author….she is stronger for being able to put herself first, and we are nothing to the world if we are not happy inside. Setting boundaries is love, and if it means the hard boundary of no contact, then it does. It’s love for yourself and for the other person. This is a touchy matter and your approach is judging while the advice you give borders on dangerous, especially with children involved. It can take one nasty comment to a child to cause a lifelong issue or trauma.

  21. No matter who is doing the emotional or physical abuse, it is unacceptable. I come from this type of family and the more my other siblings kept in regular contact with my parents the more they became like them; it is unavoidable.
    Cutting ties is harder to do, that is why most people don’t. Maintaining and accepting the abuse just because it is family is absurd, to me at least.
    Sustain your own identity, seek others who are sane and carry on with your life.
    Live long and prosper.

  22. If your family member refuses to go to therapy, then I think you need to focus on what you can change: yourself and your responses to them. Who they are and what they do is up to them, and you need to let their hurtful behavior go.

    I think the main reason you should forgive hurtful behavior and keep visiting hurtful family members is that you’ll be more emotionally healthy. Forgiveness is for YOU, not for them. The hard work of doing everything you can to be okay with them will make you a better, happier person in the long run!

  23. So, when you ask a family member to attend therapy WITH you because you want to work on the relationship, and they refuse, your just supposed to go “Well, I tried” and go running back for more abuse, put-downs, and chaos? Why subject a happy life to so much pain? Who is number one in your life because it apparently isn’t you or your children!

  24. Absurd. Abuse is abuse regardless of who is dishing it out. Knowing that they are wounded does not mean you should subject yourself to the abuse. You are on the fringe of reason for thinking otherwise. If people, including family, are abusive, you must cut them out of your life for good. That is teaching your children how to protect yourself from abusers and showing your children that they should never accept abuse from anyone, even family. Difficult relationships may be workable but most abusive ones are simply not.

  25. I don’t have a spouse or children – just parents who put me down and compare me negatively to others. I have asked them to change their behaviour but they don’t. Why should I bother forgiving them, accepting them or turning the other cheek? I really don’t see why I should do all that hard work for nothing.

    1. Clearly this article was written with good intent but lack of life experience. The biggest mistake I ever made in my life was not walking away from abusive in-laws as SOON as the abuse started. The only teachable moments your children learn from being around toxic bullying behavior is that it is ok and your not standing against it. Being related DOES NOT give anyone the right to hurt another person. My marriage is better now that we finally got them out of our lives and my only regret is EVER allowing my children around such mental illness. Teachable moments for children is to surround them with loving kindness and how to stand up to bullies, not encourage them with tolerance of their bad behavior.

      1. Well said Jo w! If you don’t want to do it for your own sanity you have the obligation to do it for your kids. It seems you and your husband are on the same page which is refreshing. I can’t say the same of my own marriage unfortunately..DH is too enmeshed in his relationship with his own family (more like tribe) and it took quite a bit of courage for me to sever ties with that sick bunch. However, I don’t regret it one bit. After all, I never felt I was part of them anyway.