You love your family members, but sometimes they’re frustrating and aggravating! These six tips on how to deal with troubling family problems will help you get along with your siblings, parents, or other relatives.

Learning how to handle toxic family problems is complicated because of the strong emotions we feel towards our relatives. “Family quarrels have a total bitterness unmatched by others,” wrote Mignon McLaughlin. “Yet it sometimes happens that they also have a kind of tang, a pleasantness beneath the unpleasantness, based on the tacit understanding that this is not for keeps; that any limb you climb out on will still be there later for you to climb back.”

Your family will always be part of who you are, even if you think that this time you – or they – have gone too far. If possible – as far as it depends on you – live in peace with your relatives. Don’t burn bridges or ruin your relationship with your family. Sometimes we think the best way to deal with family problems is by walking away forever…but we know deep down that it’s better to work through our issues, even with toxic relatives.

Your family is important, meaningful and special to you – no matter how troublesome and toxic they are. You don’t want to reject or banish them from your life, but you do need to protect your emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

Before you read my tips on how to deal with family problems and toxic relatives, think for a minute about the difference between a family fight and a toxic relative. This is important because it changes how you respond to your family members and their issues.

Toxic family members are emotionally unhealthy and destructive. They are harmful to themselves and you, and will destroy relationships, activities, and family events. Toxic family members are unhappy and unhealthy; their negative energy and perspective spreads to everyone around them. A family fight or feud, on the other hand, is a conflict between relatives that involves hurt feelings, misunderstanding, and miscommunication – but it can be resolved. Fights and arguments can be healed because the family members aren’t necessarily toxic. They’re simply human.

Learning how to handle family problems involves recognizing when a relative is emotionally or spiritually toxic, versus when he or she is simply a “normal kind of crazy” family member who is just human. Even the best of us humans are weak, foolish, inept, and selfish. That’s why we need to accept and rely on the love of Jesus! We can’t save ourselves – or our families – but we can accept His love and forgiveness.

6 Tips for Dealing With Troubling Family Problems

There are no easy solutions, no quick tips for dealing with family problems. The best way to cope is to get as spiritually and emotionally healthy as you can, because your grounding will help you cope with family drama.

how to deal with family problems

dealing with family problems

Connecting with God is the only way to be truly spiritually and emotionally healthy. He created you, He loves you deeply, and He put you in this family for a reason! You are woven into God’s great plan. You may never learn why your family members are part of your life, or even how to deal with the most toxic relatives. But if you accept the love of Jesus, you can experience the joy, peace, love, freedom, and forgiveness that He offers.

It’s also important to learn how to take care of yourself in practical ways – and recognize when and how you’re contributing to your family’s problems. This isn’t about blaming yourself or them; it’s about knowing where your responsibility begins and ends. And accepting your own role in your family problems.

1. Know when to draw the line with toxic family members

On my article about dealing with difficult parents, many readers describe toxic relatives who cause a lot of harm to themselves and their family members. My readers ask the same question over and over: “How can I stop my brother/parent/uncle/family member from doing it again?”

The quick answer is that you often can’t stop your family members from causing problems or repeatedly hurting you or others. If they are physically violent, you have to call the police or 911. Protect yourself and others, even if you’re worried about how your family will react. Let toxic or abusive family members face the consequences of their actions. If you keep protecting them from natural consequences, they’ll keep acting the same way.

It’s crucial to remember that you can’t deal with family problems by trying to change your relatives. You can’t even change yourself without hard work and self-discipline (or the powerful sweep of the Holy Spirit!). You can forgive your relatives for hurting you or breaking your heart, but you can’t change their behavior or choices. Forgiveness and love means looking forward, not backwards.

2. Learn the “natural consequences” of poor choices

If your family member causes physical harm – abuses – another person or family member, then a natural consequence is facing the police or judicial system. If your relative always borrows money for destructive activities and never pays it back, then a natural consequence could be suing for repayment (easier if you and your family member signed a promissory note or loan agreement. Read 6 Things to Consider Before Lending Money to Your Adult Child for tips on how to deal with family problems that involve financial loans).

Another natural consequence is simply not being invited to family dinners or celebrations (if the toxic relative always ruins gatherings). Many families try – out of love – to protect their relatives from the results of their actions. This may appear to be a kind and compassionate thing to do, but it’s “enabling.” It perpetuates the behavior and makes things worse for the whole family in the long run.

3. Keep practicing different ways to deal with toxic family problems

There is no one right way to cope with problems in your family because there is no one type of trouble! You may need to experiment with different tools and strategies until you find what works for you and your family problems. The best tip for dealing with families is to read books and get resources on how to deflect conflicts and situations. Read about boundaries, take workshops or classes about setting healthy boundaries with difficult people, and consider talking to a family counselor about the best way to handle family problems.

Sometimes the best way to handle toxic family members is to simply stay away. This is a boundary that could be healthy if the conflict can’t be resolved or the problems never go away. Learning how to manage boundaries with difficult relatives and toxic situations is one of the best places to start.

How to Deal With Problems in Your FamilyIn Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Drs Henry Cloud and John Townsend describe how to set clear boundaries when you’re learning how to deal with toxic family problems.

A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. Boundaries in family and other relationships define who we are and who we are not. They impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances. Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions. Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others. Every type of boundary is important in all relationships – even with the closest family members.

4. Distance yourself from difficult or abusive relatives

Sometimes the best way to handle family problems is to separate yourself physically and emotionally. Accept that your family problems will not change – and neither will your relatives. Distance may be physical, such as moving to a different house, state, or country. Or, distance may be emotional, such as not answering the phone or text messages until you’re mentally and emotionally ready to talk. You don’t necessarily need to cut toxic relatives out of your life; rather, you can give them a quick call every 2-3 months. Or, you can send a card or email message instead of calling.

How you decide to deal with family problems depends on your personality, lifestyle, and physical and emotional health.

I call my mom every week, even though I find it difficult to talk to her. She’s not toxic; she suffers from a serious mental illness called schizophrenia. We can still have phone conversations, but they aren’t exactly life-giving or deep! And yet, I’m glad I call her every week. She tells me she loves me, and she’s sorry that she’s mentally ill. I accept her, and surrender to my life the way it is.

Remember that learning how to deal with family problems is not the same as surviving abusive parents when you can’t leave home. If you’re dealing with abuse, you need to reach out for support and guidance from professional counselors or organizations.

5. Learn how to protect yourself from unfair or hurtful criticism

Dealing with family problems requires setting healthy boundaries. It’s easier to set boundaries than to actually stick to them! That’s why Dr Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries books are awesome.

Learning how to protect your boundaries despite criticism and negative feedback from toxic relatives is crucial. Remember that your family members may not think they’re doing anything wrong, and may not see the negative effect they have on you or others. They may think everyone should live and act the way they do.

how to deal with family problemsRead Leaving Home: The Art of Separating From Your Difficult Family – especially if you have a feeling that learning how to deal with your family problems or toxic relatives is too difficult on your own. Many adults re-create the most painful aspects of their early relationships with their parents in new relationships with peers and romantic partners, frustrating themselves and discouraging them from leaving their family of origin.

Leaving Home emphasizes the life-saving benefits of separating from destructive parents and offers effective tips on how to deal with family problems by putting distance between yourself and toxic relatives.

6. Don’t expect your family member to change

This is the most important tip on how to deal with family problems: you can’t change your relatives. You can change the things you have control over, such as how often you visit family, where you see them, the length of the visits, etc. But you’ll never change your family member’s personality, lifestyle, habits, or decisions.

Your relative may never change, but you can empower yourself in different ways. For instance, if you have an alcoholic sibling, you can join an Al-Anon support group. Toxic relatives are stressful – there’s no doubt about it – but you can reduce the stress by checking your own attitude and response to them. Part of monitoring your attitudes and responses is noticing when you’re creating more problems and when you’re calming the situation. Be honest with yourself. Learn how you can handle toxic family members better. Grow. Reach upwards for strength, inwards for insight and self-awareness.

how to deal with family problems

dealing with family problems

If you struggle to communicate with your relatives and loved ones, read How to Ask for What You Need in Your Relationships.

How are you dealing with toxic relatives who cause family problems? I welcome your comments below! I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it might help you to share your story.

Often, just expressing your emotions and experiences can bring insight and healing. And it shows others they’re not alone. Read through the readers’ comments below; you’ll see that you’re in good company.

May you find healing, hope, forgiveness, and peace in your family. Even more importantly, may you accept the deep love of Jesus and strong power of God! You – and your family members – were created for a purpose. You were created to love and know God. Jesus is the solution to your problems, the answer to your questions, and the only way to fill the emptiness and ache in your heart, soul, and spirit. He is the only source of joy, peace, and love!


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136 thoughts on “How to Deal With Problems in Your Family”

  1. I recently subscribed,My mom 69,and her one sister 59 have had so many falling outs,she has left my mom broken.Now her other 2 sisters says she needs to let it go so we can have family gatherings together.I her daughter disagree,her sister always upstages her and makes her feel stupid and worthless,this has went on so long.Plus her sister has 0 compassion.I just wish her family would just see how destructive this has been for her and understand…

  2. I have been married to my husband 20years 2nd.marriage and been there for his son’s and partners and looked after all 5 grandchildren the youngest son is a self confessed drug addict and the eldest has a vicious and vindictive wife and problems with there son who is very aggressive and had smashed up the house and his dad police involved I have always been there for all of them money labour etc anyway I m 72 my husband 80 and in August had a fall ended up in hospital two weeks two screws in hip big nail down to knee two screws in knee big operation they came an odd time youngest last seen August both love within walking distance wife of eldest an odd time and friendly then in November got pneumonia and Sepsis intensive care anyway 10days in Hospital home a long recovery lucky to be here my husband’s son’s haven’t been in touch even Christmas I m very angry my husband went to see them eldest one and they have told him lies about me saying I m always right rubbish argument s and he just accepts it because he hates confrontation I have had enough and feel very angry.

  3. Listen to your loved ones even if you have heard it a million times and tell them you love them. If you can help then try, but don’t hurt your personal family trying to help others. Maybe the person talking just needs someone to talk to and your it. I have had two suicides, one murder, and lots of family quarrels in my very large family over the years. People with problems need help and maybe, just maybe, you may be their angel and possibly help to prevent something tragic. God Bless America and our families and loved ones. Life is good.

  4. Big problem. Sister in law has a toxic, controlling family. Sister-in-law’s parents have been horrible to my sister in law and nieces. They favor another daughter and her kids, give them money, jewelry, time and my sister-in-law and nieces get nothing. I’ve sat for hours while they cry and convey the pain they’ve experienced from this mean family. They demand every holiday with my brother and sister in law and nieces. Sister in law and brother acquiesce rather than have a battle. Problem? My family has to keep our mouths shut, and face the fact that my brother, sister-in-law and nieces choose to spend time with the toxic mean people, rather than with us. For the last 5 years, I’ve had Thanksgiving. Everyone is invited, no one is left out. Problem? For the past 4 years, brother and wife go to her toxic family gatherings and we’re left out. Kept my mouth shut for years to avoid a problem. Now, in order to avoid conflict, my niece decided on her own to host Thanksgiving with her mother’s toxic family and her future husband’s controlling family. My immediate family was invited, but the entire family was not. I was forced to choose between my relatives. I’ve always made it a point to include everyone so no ones feelings are hurt, but my niece and sister in law ignored the fact that for 5 years, I’ve done the holiday in order to make sure everyone is included. They decided on their own to host the holiday and exclude parts of the family. I was put in the middle, and decided to not accept the invitation from my niece because everyone wasn’t included. Now my niece is angry with me, saying I created a rift in the family. I talked to my brother about this. Told him that if my niece had spoken with me prior to making the decision to have Thanksgiving, extending selective invitations, we could have worked things out. Niece didn’t care about people getting feelings hurt – she did what was best for her, and then got defensive and attacked people who asked if everyone was included. She lied and said they were “out”. It’s been an ongoing problem for years and I told them I don’t understand why they make sure the difficult people get everything they want, and the ones who keep their mouths shut to avoid problems end up on the short end of the stick. Now my brother’s not talking to me saying I upset my niece and she’s devastated.

  5. My sister-in-law has a drink problem. She’s outspoken, bordering on rude, at the best of times, even worse when under the influence. My brother has convinced other family members that his and her excessive drinking are caused by work related stress. My elderly mother has recently been in hospital and most of the care (shopping, doctors/hospital appointments, etc) has fallen to me because I’m unemployed at the moment.
    At a family bbq yesterday she tried to attack me because I wouldn’t respond to her shouting. As I was feeling mentally drained, I didn’t want to be by a loud karaoke machine, so sat in the relatively quiet conservatory. By the time we were ready to go home, she was well and truly drunk. As expected, my brother became abusive to me, as did other family members present. The latter changed their view when I explained how I was feeling. I’ve found out today that she also had a minor struggle with my mother (84 years old). What I really regretted was my 14 year old niece being upset, but a text from her this morning reassured me she’s fine.
    I’ve found out as a result of this unfortunate incident, that family members have been talking about me behind my back and believe what they’ve been told. I thought decent people checked with the other party to see if it was true. No, not my family!
    Many years ago, my ex advised me to distance myself from them, as he had done with his. Suppose it’s being female, I felt guilty and didn’t do it. I now feel trapped, not only by the situation with my mother but also the attempted emotional blackmail and unacceptable behaviour. I don’t expect plaudits, just simple understanding that sometimes I may not be the cheeriest person. Unfortunately, my mother has been guilty of favouring my brother, so he can now behave just how he likes. It’s my birthday tomorrow, so let’s see if I get a card from them……

  6. , We have decided to let our grown married kids live their life the way that makes them happy. We have tried our best to be good parents and grandparents. No matter what we do our son’s wife complaints so to keep peace we just stay away. They are always welcome to come by and bring the grandkids. As we age we look back and ignored the red flags with our kids but we are fully awake now. We feel used and thrown to the side. Have a good day and get out and do stuff, stop worry about the married kids and have some fun life goes by so quickly!

  7. Our married son & his wife say one thing and do another. They got caught in some lies to his sister and now they are mad at me and will not let grandkids come over anymore going on for over a yr now. We have been good parents and grandparents.

  8. I have a family prombles,i do not understand,when a family spends money on you and you mess up one time this person throw it in your face.making you fill not greatful.does that person really love you?

  9. if your inlaws are to much to handle because they are abusive physically, emotionally and financially stop speaking to them. Live your life and love your spouse. God won’t shame you for it. If you know that you commited no wrong then by all means do not apologize. because that is the same effect of the roman’s stringing up jesus to the cross for his beliefs. Hold to your union and know that in the end your spouse and God have your back.

  10. I’m not sure how to deal with this both my boys are in their forties and they lived with their father who is very ill. They were both left money a home paid for. They took and sold the house that was paid for and each got $75,000 each now they have both went through that $75,000 in less than one year they have no place to stay neither one have a job. And now they want me to take care of them and let them live with me and a one-bedroom apartment on a fixed income. This is stressing me out so bad I feel like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown my one son that has diabetes I t I told him he could sleep on the couch and stay with me until he gets straight. He insist just that he has to have this big dog of his come stay with him. I’ve tried to explain to him I do not want the dog to come stay with me I cannot afford to have my carpets ruined and my house ruined so now he’s very angry at me because I said the dog couldn’t stay he thinks I’m a very cruel hearted person. How can I solve this issue. He’s trying to get on disability. And that hasn’t worked out so far I live on a very small fixed income and that. That is all I have sometimes I even have to go without my medication to pay my bills. I feel like they are trying to use me and make me feel guilty so that I will I will let the dog stay here. My apartment is only a one bedroom. What can I do.. this dog that my son has has a lot of medical issues. And he cannot even afford to take him to the vet. my feelings are if you can’t afford to take your dog to the vet and take care of them properly you do not need them.

  11. I have chosen to distance myself from several family members due to their toxic abusive hurtful behavior towards me. It is painful to hear from others that they are still trying to hurt me by talking about me I a negative way behind my back. One of them is an elderly aunt who manages to use other members of the family and worm her way to family gatherings and then I’m not invited. She is in her 90 ‘ s and has NOT mellowed with age. She is vicious, vindictive, etc. However, I am the only family member who has stood up to her and said…ENOUGH! The other family members are a whole family of a pedophile brother. They would make fun of me to my face and a lot of sexual comments that made me feel like the pedophile, which couldn’t be further from the truth. A member of that family who hurt me has recently invited me to his home….YIKES. It has been a few years since the hurtful event and I don’t want to put myself in that position again.

  12. I do believe there are times you need to cut family off and out. I have done it and have no regrets. My life is easier and more positive because of it. I wish them well, will always remember to wish them blessings and good times.

  13. I agree, it is so painful when toxic family members ruin family get-togethers! It does hurt a lot, especially when the family member is targeting you. I’m sorry your family is so disjointed and angry – and I’m especially sorry that you can’t see your grandchildren. That would be very painful.

    Don’t give up hope, though. Sometimes families drift apart, and actually come back together again to be closer than every before! It hasn’t happened in my family, I must admit, and I’ve dealt with it by creating friendships that are closer than I had with my family members.

    How do you feel about developing close friendships with people who aren’t your family members? I know it’s not the same as blood relatives, but we do need close relationships with people and if our family is toxic and we can deal with the problems… then sometimes we have no choice. What do you think?


  14. Two toxic family members have ruined all family events. I have been told no one intends to visit. Hurtful! Yes. Peaceful. Yes. Reached fight level. It hurts so much. Aimed at me, took care of aged parent foe 13 yrs. one angry about money, one drinks too much. Now significant others are putting a no on all holidays. Can’t even see grandchildren. I’m supposed to get over this.

  15. we have taken a big new home and our relatives instead of getting mixed with us they are quarrelling with us bcoz they are jellous of my dad’s success .
    Now my dad is feeling lonely as I am leaving far away from him coz of my studies.. What should we do..?? I we have tried all the compro with our relatives but they always ask for money from us… Dad don’t show us but he is incomplete without them..

  16. Hello,

    Thanks a lot for this article. I am from Europe so if I make any grammar mistake, please forgive me.
    I am in a situation now and I need some good advices from someone here who wants to help me. I have a toxic family member in my in-laws. This woman is married to uncle of my husband. She hates me and my parents for no specific reasons. I even once apologized to her for things I have never done in order to stop the tensions in our family due to her behavior towards me( She would never say Hi and would turned her face away, every time I saw her in a family gathering). When her dad passed away I went to his funeral and she started to talk with me and would response to my hi. Now her son is getting married. They have invited everyone including me and my husband but refused to invite my parents. My husband says we will not attend the wedding(the groom is his cousin and a very nice person) as they didn’t invite your parents. I feel really sorry for his cousin as he is a nice person and do not really know what to do?

    Can some one please advice me on this? I do not want any tension in our family!


  17. Hello
    I have an older sister who has always been a little envious of me since I was born. I am the product of an affair my mum and our dad had. Her mum poisoned her against my mum and our dad for many years and although her mum didn’t want her as a child in the school holidays and would send her to my mum and our dad (even though my mum was ‘evil) for the whole summer.
    I spent my child hood growing up as an only child and haven’t been close with her or my half brother really.
    Since I got to be a teenager she would say hurtful things to me. I went to stay with her and she told me not to answe the phone as it might be her mum and she hates me! I was 16 and it was a bit damaging to think I was hated. I was very influential and nervous.
    Later, I had a boyfriend I met through her when I was at university and she would flirt with him and give him wedgies in front of me and him back to her. If he came to stay when I went back home from university she would email him to tell him and arrange to come down that same weekend and monopolise the conversation and it was so hurtful. I ended up telling my boyfriend that I felt left out and he drove back to university in a bad mood and hen he told my sister who had already left to go back to London. She phoned me and had a go at me and told me that I was paranoid and that the conversation wasn’t exclusive and that I could’ve joined in. (I didn’t know anyone they were talking about and I didn’t go sky diving for a hobby with them so couldn’t relate).
    I wrote her a letter apologising about upsetting her, which afterwards when learning what she would be like as I got older, I shouldn’t have done. She didn’t speak to me for a year.
    Since then I have kept my distance. She would visit at Christmas and take over my mums house. Mum would go upstairs and cry and not tell her ‘no’ or how she felt and I would feel so angry and upset but I wasn’t allowed to go and say something to stuck up for my mum. My mum told me that dad never told her off even from childhood and I believe because he is eternally guilty because of the affair. She can do no wrong!
    Everything I do or did she would criticise and try and rip it to shreds and it knocked my confidence. I got engaged to someone and he cheated. I was devastated. She said ‘well people for just cheat. You must have driven him to that somehow!’
    She always is obsessed with money and goals. She asked me my biggest achievement and I said ‘getting my latest job as I sat at the interview and I got it on what I did that day. ‘ she said ‘ well it wasn’t just you. It was all the people that helped you along the way!’ Always knocking my confidence. Then she said what is your goal. I said to have a family. She said it wasn’t a goal.
    10 years later I have a baby. She wasn’t happy for me when i told her I was pregnant. We had been through IVF a fit was successful. She didn’t turn around from washing up at Christmas when I told her my happy news. Dad had told me not to tell her as she would be jealous. I felt I should as I was telling my other family and she wouldn’t know.
    I think I just need to talk to someone because I have no strategies to deal with her. I just avoid her and I don’t go to my parents when she comes down because they allow her to argue and don’t tell her off. They tell me off still and I am 34 but they don’t tell her off and she is 51 and behaves like a child. Me and my husband want to move away because his family have members worse than this and it’s all around us.
    Please help.

  18. Jannuth Carroll

    I am dealing with my brother who had a stroke and is residing indepently in an apartment. He does fine but is a slob and refuses to clean his space, wash clothes, or shop for groceries. He has been divorced three times and thus I am all he has. I have done everything, am TOTALLY worn out, and my own health problems are worsening. Even when talking on the phone, I feel as though I may have a stroke. What should I do?

  19. I am the olderst of three siblings and the only girl. My parents separated when we were in our 20’s and my little brother a teenager. Now that we are all in our 30’s my youngest brother seems to be in a loop of constant problems. Always expecting for the family to “help” him out. For all of us it seems more of him wanting us to take responsability and solve his problems. His most recently one is having an accident and breaking his foot. He has no money and no heath insurance. Of course he expects us to respond to his issue and now that after years of solving his problems we have decided to let him solve this one on his own he get’s completely angry at us for abandond him to his luck, even though this time is not only about money but about health. We all feel frustraded about the situation and personally not knowing if we are doing right on letting him scratch with his own nails, no matter how hard it seems to be. I personally feel exausted and don’t know if this boundary is healthy or not for both sides. On his older problem we all told him that we wouldn’t help him anymore and ofcourse he “understood” after getting what he wanted, but know that he is again in big need and not getting what he looks for to solve his big problem, we have become the worst family in the world for abandond him to his luck. I feel conficted about all this, even though I know that all this new problem is as always a consecuence of his own desicions. What I am afraid is that if we get him out of this, next time would be the same. I feel burned out everytime we hear he is going through a new problem.

  20. It is very hard to keep a good relationship with a sibling sometimes. My brother’s wife absolutely cannot stand me, although we have always treated her with courtesy and more attention than she really deserves and despite her being extremely rude at times, and my brother makes every effort to make sure that we almost worship her. They both act as if they are above my husband, my children and I. They have never been to a family celebration, such as my kids’ birthday parties, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. on time. They arrive up to 3 hours late. They never offer to celebrate anything at their home. My brother would regularly invite me for coffee at a restaurant and then stand me up. Too many details to even mention. I’ve decided to keep my distance and not talk to him or them anymore, at least for now, because he expects me to hate homosexuals, adopt his religion (which I don’t understand why it promotes so much hatred to people who are different than us), and agree with his political preferences. I do not share any of these values. In his intent, he is mean, and belittling and challenges and makes fun of the very few opinions I voice about on these issues, which I avoid at all cost and only make when he’s exceeded his comments about these issues. Today, I was upset because his wife needed a favor from my oldest soon, an 18 yr old. And instead of his wife calling my son directly, my brother texted my son and asked him to call his wife. I think it is a little humiliating and unnecessary for him to be so hell bent on us having to give his wife so much importance, especially if she cannot stand us. I know he is not going to change, and I am not going to change. But I believe this relationship is very toxic. I hate that my kids are getting dragged into it. I want them to be assertive, and not let their uncle manipulate them into worshiping their aunt. It’s not right, nor fair to them. My kids love their uncle, aunt and cousins very much, and I don’t know how to go about this without getting upset and making it seem like I am trying to turn them against him and his family.

    1. Edward Boralski Pacenni

      It sounds exactly like my brother and his wife. The problem is actually happening between the two of them. Some type of competition. The best way to battle this psychological nightmare is DISTANCE….Just keep up the traditional family important dates with a superficial card or message.

  21. I have a mother who is sick with Parkinson’s, an older brother who is a recovering drug addict, and a dad who was abusive (not to me) and an alcoholic, and my parents are divorced. We also are very tight on money. There is so much anger and depression and sadness in my family from everything that has been going on. I am away at college which is good because I don’t think about everything going on at home, but I feel so guilty not being home and helping my brother and mom. But I come home and see everything and get so depressed and hate what’s going on. I don’t know what to do, we only have each other and we lash out at each other. I want to stay at college and not have to worry about it but I feel like I can’t leave my mom and my brother behind dealing with al of this. If anyone has any advice or anything that could help, I would greatly appreciate it

    1. First of all you’re a college student. No mother would expect a college student to care for her. You’re just a kid and should be concentrating on your studies.
      That being said, your love and concern for your mom comes across in your post. You sound like a very loving person. There are some things you can do to help, such as calling often to see how she’s doing, sending cards and little notes, and maybe even suggesting that she discuss with her physician that she needs help at home. Perhaps her doctor can help set up home care services for her where a nurses aid comes to her house a few times a week to grocery shop, clean, and help with showers and meal preparations. Her insurance might even cover the cost. She also might have neighbors willing to help. Perhaps they can run errands for her or pick up items at the store. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through but because your brother and father are addicts and abusive doesn’t mean you’re the only one to care for your mom. Try to enlist other GOOD people to help – such as people from her church, kind and loving aunts and uncles, neighbors, or even hired help. The most important thing is for you to remain at college and complete your studies…I’m sure your mom would want that too.

      If you have a long vacation from school you might want to come home for a few days. During that time you could grocery shop and stock her house with what she needs (food, toiletries, and so on). You could run errands for her then. But again, the most important thing is for you to remain at school and complete your education.

      Every community has an Office for the Aging and Social Services. They provide services for the elderly and infirmed. They would know what services your mom is entitled to. Perhaps they can arrange “meals on wheels” for her where lunch is delivered to her house each day. Or perhaps they can arrange transportation for her to and from doctors appointments. Ask a trusted family member to contact either of the above services to see if there’s help available for your mom.

      Your brother and father have issues so try to deal directly with your mother. Also try to enlist other good people to surround her with – does she have a sister, a brother, a kind niece or neighbor? I’m hoping there is at least one other person willing to help her.

      Good luck to you and please continue your studies at school.

      1. Thank you so much. It’s just hard because her sister just recently passed away and we don’t have a big family and she lost connections with any of her friends over the years, mainly because of everything going on. I hate seeing her alone and stuck inside all day but I hate having to be there and see her get worse and worse. I plan to continue my studies at college and you’re right, she wants me to do so as well and be happy. It’s just so hard to dea with this all and not be able to do anything.

  22. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this situation posted anywhere. I grew up in a rather dysfunctional family (emotional abuse); parents allowed the counseling until the counselor recommended the family being involved in counsel.(twice). Married to get out of the home, which ended in divorce & went into counseling myself. When growing up my parents had always been in contact with their brothers / sisters went to visit, called them, etc. Yet now (especially since counseling 20-30 yrs. ago) I’ve noticed my 2 older brothers (my only siblings) never called me; we never contacted /visited w/each other, etc.- UNLESS it was a holiday, &/or the one from out of state came up to visit (mainly) Mom.
    Other than that no contact between us. I had tried to start us contacting each other now & then, but it always had to be me calling them. It came across as though (even they allowed) out mother to be in control of whether or not we were in contact w/ or saw each other, and the counselor pointed this out, too.
    Now, still, when a holiday comes, or the one from out of town visits, they still never show any interest in me, how I’m doing, Yes, when first greeting each other, it will be “Hi, how you doing”. But literally other than that, they will never ask questions such as “so what have you been up to?” How do you like where you live now? What kinds of things have you made lately?” One brother is senior vice pres. of a comp. in Houston; the other taught elem. school for abt. 30 yrs. & suddenly they ‘lost the ability’ to think of ANYTHING to say to me, ask me, etc.
    We grew up with a father who was not any kind of ‘talker’. I was the only one who had medical problems (epilepsy – seizures are controlled now) – & our father would continually yell/complain abt. medial costs saying (in front of me & maybe them) – “How the hell much does her med. cost now” “Why the hell does she have to see the Dr. again?” “Why the hell does she need another blood test” etc. If I was up at night to go to the bthrm., he’d yell asking, “What the hell are you doing up?”

    I’ve mentioned this behavior to my mother – that they literally never even talk to me (yet they sure can communicate easily with every other person/relative they are around), & she finds a way to stick up for them.

    Am mainly wondering if it would simply be better to not be in contact with them any more.

    1. Nancy, I totally get that. I grew up in foster home, so yes, ignoring me was par for the course.
      I’ve been married for 11 years, and the in laws all Ignore me. I’m always being talked over, IF I try to participate in conservation, they will look blankly away. I try and make conservation, and I get one word answer, but then they will elaborate to someone else.
      I just wish I could disappear. I’ve tried everything. Gifts, friendly smiling, helping clean and cook, bring crafts and keeping children engaged, at least they will smile at me. I take pictures to try and engage, there is actually a snarl on my husband’s nephew face., or blank stares.
      I pray earnestly that I can accept the situation, and I pray for God to lead me in all my ways, and I pray that I may be a blessing. I pray for peace and try to bless everyone there. honestly have no idea what to do. It causes so much anxiety in me, I’m so nervous that I stutter. My husband is so sweet, he gets along with everyone. He does support me. But really what can he do? Ask them to be NICE to me and at the very least not totally ignore me? I feel like crying and I’m a wreck every time I go there. Thanks for listening and sharing.

  23. Our family is really broken! There’s no way can be patched up for my part i did what ever I can do , but the setuation is going know where! my personal life is totally affected, my inner peace is intoxicated every time I connect myself with them! So I disconnected its hard, but this is the only way to achieved peace .

  24. It makes me feel better reading some of the comments. However I have a toxic daughter who I have given everything too and I recently found out that she backstabs me still. She has been telling lies about me since I can remember. She has two beautiful children who I adore. When I lost my entire family over the last 9 years. My sister, brother aunts uncles cousins friends. Then mum last Christmas she hasn’t once given me comfort or even asked how I am. I’ve tried to be honest. The thing is when I was grieving really badly and ill, she went to social services to spite me. Now it’s blown up in her face. I told her to be careful what she said but she lied about me and although I have the children 3 times a week she still lied and said I didn’t help. I go for months with not much to pay for their birthdays and Christmas. I’ve always had good jobs and brought her up well. However much she’s crapped on me I’ve stood by her. Even with the Social Services where I feel she’s been picked on as a soft target I have gone to meetings threatened them, reported them and so on. I have lost about 9 years of my life through grief and dedicated it to her and the kids. I have a great partner who acts as a go between and collects the kids for us so I don’t have to see her sometimes. She calls me names to people even when I have been diagnosed with serious illness and been ill she hasn’t shown me a tiny bit of empathy. An example my birthday and my friends birthday was on same day. My friend spoils her even though she is nearly 30 and the kids and yet my daughter didn’t get her a card and present so I did and pretended they were off her. Afterwards she went home and slagged me off to a neighbour about not giving her the present! Then she put me down about lots of other things. Ive had people look at me as if I’m something on their shoe after what she’s said.. After a few weeks with her they’ve rang me up to apologise and said oh we see now why you were ignoring our comments. The best one is she asked someone about my illness her and this horrible woman said horrible things then she fell out with the woman. Then caused a fight and expected me to fight this woman. That’s what she does. She tells people awful stories then expects me to fight for her. Her cry is but your my mother it’s your duty. Yet she ignores the most basic needs of her own children. I will always get them things when they need them to the best of my ability. They’re always clean well fed and loved when they’ve beenwith me yet she tells everyone I dont’ even see them. I’ve had it. I’m ill and not in the best state with my grieving yet I’ve dropped everything for years to help her. She sent me 100 plus negative texts once in two weeks. I blocked her sending me texts and I had about 1400 blocked texts after a few months. I’ve tried tough love, love accepting and kindness yet her phone calls give me palpitations. When I collapsed once she said I was acting. She has never cared for me and even on birthdays although I’ve always made a fuss of her and the kids she got me a fifty pence present. I dont care about the presents I care about the thoughts. She also always expects money off me even though I can’t help like I used to.

    1. Sarah, I completely understand what you are going through. My daughter has turned my entire family against me. It took me years to work with them and befriend them (since my mom always was hurtful to me being the youngest of 5 children). Since my mom was hurtful, the rest of my siblings followed her actions. Then when she died, we all came together and things got better. My daughter has very bad emotional problems. We dealt with it for years. It affected my health. Then she decided to go live with my sister in another state. She has done nothing but bad mouth me to everyone. It’s funny how I gave her birth and was with her through everything, and this is how she shows love back to me. By turning my own siblings against me telling them I was a “terrible mother to her”. SO NOT TRUE! Now they all hate me again. All those years went down the toilet. The only time she contacts me is when she needs something. And like a sucker I go back and try to help her only to be betrayed again. I’ve cried too many times and I’m tired. It’s literally affecting my health. I’m having liver problems (possible cancer) and I told my siblings. They really don’t care. For the longest time I thought “what did I do?”. But now I realize….I didn’t do anything. I was always there for all of them. I’m not perfect, but when I mess up I always apologize. They do not. They hold everything against me. Talking to each other bad mouthing me. Believe it or not, I kept trying over and over to be kind to them. Especially trying to be submissive thinking that might help. To be honest, I’m done. No matter what I do, it doesn’t matter. So believe me when I tell you. I understand what you are going through and I truly wish you happiness! I may live in the US, but I completely understand your pain!!! You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

      1. You can’t blame your health on your kids! That’s dishonest. And if the other kids and family feel the same way, then they have seen the same behavior coming from you. It’s important you look within yourself and not blame EVERYTHING on your kids. You sound like my mother who plays the martyr, and will never admit she’s done anything wrong. She wasn’t there when I had to have a double mastectomy for breast cancer, because it was a 47 mile drive, but tried to garner pity from all of her friends, because my sister was dying of lung cancer and I had cancer. Her friends felt “so sorry for her” and didn’t mention anything about her daughters. My sister passed away when she stopped chemo. A few years prior, I had two craniotomies because I had 5 brain aneurysms and 2 strokes at the age of 42, and yet she thinks I’m “fine”. I have a rare disease that caused the aneurysms and stenotic lesions throughout my body. She refuses to believe I have a serious illness. She treats my SIL like more of a daughter than me. She is mentally, emotionally and physically abusive…yet nobody will stick up for me because she threatens to take them out of the will. So, look at yourself, and stop blaming others. I tried to have an adult conversation with my mother last night, and she kicked me out of the house! I’m disabled and don’t have anywhere to live (except move out of state). She tells me I don’t have any friends because of my “attitude”, but doesn’t realize I have a lot of friends, I just suffer from social anxiety after my strokes. I know I have my own issues, and I’m working on them in therapy. But I can only go so far. I need for her to realize her part in this process in order to have a healthy relationship….which is what I would LOVE. I want to stay here and take care of them in their old age….but if this keeps up, I will discontinue getting checkups for my vascular disease, because I don’t want to live like this.

    2. Sarah,

      After reading your anguishing story about your daughter, it appears you are her doormat! Please get some backbone and stop it now! Your daughter doesn’t respect you or appreciate anything you have done for her and her children. Tough love is the strategy. Be firm, define boundaries, stand up for yourself, stop engaging with her. Don’t argue, don’t drop to her level. She is not your equal even if she is an adult. You are the mom, now start acting like one! You must teach your daughter how you want to be treated and start managing the relationship like the wiser adult that you should be. Leave her alone, don’t call, don’t text, don’t take the grandchildren. She needs to reach out to you when she misses you. Yes, it’s painful not seeing the grandchildren but if you change what you are doing and start earning her respect, she will be back and your relationship will blossom. Be affectionate and loving toward her, smile, tell her you are proud of her, that you love her. Be her cheerleader, lift her up. Your job as a parent isn’t over and perhaps she needs a bit of re-parenting. It’s okay, sometimes as parents we miss opportunities of teaching our children while they are still at home but you can still do it now. These adult kids oftentimes need gentle reminders or taught what to do and how to act, they don’t know it all either. Good luck!

  25. I fell into caregiving at age 10, I’m now 62 and still doing it against my will. Parents divorced when I was 4, my sister was 10 and my brother was 14. Over the next few years my brother became a serious drug addict, sister got pregnant at 16. Meanwhile mom moved her boyfriend into our house who was an alcoholic and later became a gambling addict. Never any time for me to have problems, I grew up putting bandages on everyone else’s, even my mom’s. Mom had 3 strokes, the first when I was 30, the last killed her when I was 45. Brother went from one drug addition to another, then alcoholism. Sister diagnosed bipolar disorder, not surprising, her disposition was always volatile. Husband finally left her and her 2 kids once they were out of school. Okay, so let’s fast forward to the present. Helpless brother still relies on me to handle everything administratively for him. He works part time and lives in mother’s house she gave him for free. His brain’s fried from drugs and quite frankly was always learning disabled, so he hardly understands his personal checking account. I meet with him Sundays for lunch and help with his bill’s, and medical documents, he had a massive heart attack 3 years ago. Sister weighs 300 pounds and has a heart condition, she’s wheelchair dependent. Her kids hate her and have moved far away…reminder, sister’s also bipolar. She tries to put all of her problems on me. She has no friends, nor does my brother, both too weird for anyone to stand them. I’ve been in a long term relationship for 20 years with an ex-military egotistical retired officer, who is now 70, totally disabled and will not lift a finger to do anything for himself…I do everything for the both of us, I mean everything. My boyfriend does pay his way…and since I lost my job of 25 years a few years ago, he’s been paying my bills too. The deal we’ve made for my caregiving efforts. Boyfriend gets mad about the time brother and sister take away from him. Brother and sister give me absolutely nothing…often I pay their way because they’re so damn pitiful. If my boyfriend dies, I have nothing…even if we married his pension doesn’t transfer to me. At 62 I worry if anyone else will hire me even if I were free to work and didn’t have so many caregiving responsibilities. I need to cut some ties and begin to prepare to take care of myself when I’m even older, I have no pension. As I said, brother and sister are pitiful and boyfriend pays my way in exchange for my giving him nearly all my time. Would love to hear any comments…my life’s circumstances doesn’t leave me much time for friends. Thanks

  26. I have a brother in law in Germany who never contacts me now my sister is dead and he has the money from my father who died and left money to my sister , she died a few months after my father, and my brother in law now has it . I have no worries with him however I look after my mother’s money ( Enduring Power Of Attorney ) and when he was over here for my mother’s 100th birthday he started questioning me on how much he would get of hers .

  27. I knew I had some sort of troubled family members but I couldn’t understand back in time how toxic they really could be. After reading this site, I understood why those damaging things happened to me right straight coming from the members that I called family. My mother ( now God rest her sole) literally destroyed all that was going on for me in my life. I didn’t know back then she had mental illness called schizophrenia, this came forward in open before she passed away in Nov.’15. The two siblings that I have , are not schizophrenics yet but are extremely toxic. Both of them have serious issues . They think you are there to cause them divorce in their marriages. Because that’s what they have caused me, and they think same will be done on them. Now , even late, but I understand why my mother had done what she has done to see me destroyed completely. I always stayed close to my family, assuming they are my family and can’t hurt me. Today, I look back in details of their actions and I see it clearly that I was a sole target of their mental game, that I only suffered the consequences all alone terribly that if I ever write a book about it, it will be read so widely that soon Alexander Dumas will be forgotten. It will be one of the best sellers on Barns and Noble list. Today, I drew line, a forever line between me and the remaining siblings. I can’t change the past nor them ( brother and sister) but I can change my steps and control the toxics in my surroundings . All I can say is this “Life is a school that as I pass through I received my PhD that only life offers this type of Degree.” I continue my way, and I forgive those who once ruined me badly. So badly that can’t even describe them here because the list is enormous, and the way those toxics ruined me wasn’t something to solve and go on easily, it costs my entire existing up to know.

  28. The interesting part about toxic family members is that they come running back when they need help.

    More often than not, they have serious mental health problems.

    I have two siblings like that.

    One recently exploded after less than a minute after showing up, pretty much uninvited, at a Holiday gathering. He harbors deep resentment against me and my parents from innocuous things that happened at age 3. He also has never thanked us when the entire family and a crew of 20 overseas did everything we could (flying overseas, meeting with embassy officials, visiting him in prison) when he got arrested in a foreign country.

    Another has been secretive and snotty in conversations, and frequently rude and cruel.

    He’s also wound up squatting in the homes of relatives when he falls apart psychologically, and has criticized us as we have done everything we could to pick up the wreckage he’s left behind (this latest one involved the police and property damage, and we’ve been able to keep him from getting a criminal record somehow – we were criticized for everything else, ranging from admitting him to the psych ward to how we dealt with the crime victims and police and how we refused to give him money so he could go off and continue to live his self-styled, gypsy, unemployed life again).

    Unfortunately, after the mess is over, I have wound up avoiding both as much as possible, being out of town if they come into town, or conveniently not responding to a phone call until it’s too late.

    That may not be a great solution, but I unfortunately find it worse to have these two in my life than out of it.

    Toxic relatives generally don’t limit their toxicity to family members. They are dependent upon family because they have usually alienated everyone else in their lives, and family is the only thing they can return to, because the last ones to cut someone off are usually the family members.

    1. I enjoyed this comment. You know what you’re talking about and seem like you are actually affected by toxic family members, and not just a confused toxic. I appreciate your insight.

  29. I’m just in the process of letting my family know their behaviour is unacceptable to me. I expect the same from them as I do the rest of society – accept me for who I am and the way I look. Because they criticise they judge, they bitch behind backs, never ask what’s really going on but jump to incorrect conclusions, then lie. I know I’ve upset them – seriously have they thought maybe I’m doing this because of all the hurt they’ve inflicted on me. Apparently I’m making mum sick, she’s gonna die and I won’t be in the will. How dare they say these things to me. Maybe I’m physically sick from the pain too, but it’s all about them. Not speaking to them will not remove your pain, I just keep getting lashed at

    1. Ask your toxic family members why. I’m sure, if you’re problem is legitimate, that they’ll follow the trend that they’ve set. If they do, just tell them that you love them and wish that you could better meet their standards, but that you cannot. Then leave and allow them to reflect on what you’ve said. I’d recommend leaving before they have a chance to argue, as it will only upset you further and cause more conflict.

  30. Hello

    Your articles are great and very helpful. Your sooo down to earth & raw. I have family issues too. The issue is we are not close. Everyone is in their own little world. Nobody wants to go deep and address the issues within the family. So instead everyone relocated and talks occasionally. When we talk it’s very superficial( fluffy talk). I am on my own and divorced with no kids. Sometimes I experience the most darkest moments. There are days when I can’t wait for this life to be over. Your articles help me thru and teach. I am going thru a period right now..,.where I cry constantly. When someone is kind….a stranger….all I do is cry. I see other people stories and feel mixed emotions. Thank you for helping me…one day at a time and sometimes one hour at a time. Blessings.

  31. Wow it is great to know I am not alone, and yet so sorry we are all so alike in our pain. My family is f*cked. My older brother, whom I adored growing up, has so many issues, he actually told me at age 12 that he will not give me any more presents in LIFE because he gave me his stamp collection doubles one year. And he hasn’t. Hell, he won’t even let me have a relationship with his 2 kids..and then he goes off to Afghanistan for 6 months with the army, and can’t bring himself to either tell me he came home safe, OR even say thanks for the care pkg I sent to him while deployed. It goes WAY on from there. My two sisters are divorced, and I am the only sister still married. They completely cut me out of their communications, even had me babysit while they went out partying.. Would exclude me from family camping trips, but literally drive by my house on their way, taking photos etc.. My youngest sister has routinely lied, stole from us, abused our trust, tricked us, and has manipulated me for years which I only allowed out of a misguided belief that family sticks together..the final straw was when she called me, drunk (as usual) to say she had “commandiered” one of my most prized childhood posessions years before, but never told me she had it,even though she KNEW I was thinking I had lost it over time. But what killed me was that she confessed she had given my item to our niece as a gift, and TOOK FULL CREDIT for it. Even denied me the choice, or priviledge of giving it to our niece myself!! Well trust me when I say this is only a drop in the emotional bucket. I am trying to distance myself from my incredibly toxic family, but of course my mother wants to “fix” it.. ain’t happening this time. And did I mention my lifelong anxiety has turned into an illness called GBS? Look it up, it is a nasty, prolonged recovery. So I really don’t need any drama or negativity atm. And my issues are also taking their toll on my marriage, with mutiple deaths and significant health problems in his family in the last 2 years.. I guess it’s all boiling to a head. And I am terrified to see what happens next!
    Thanks for letting me vent. Good luck to everyone in a similar stressful predicament!

    1. I have a Sociopathic brother…..VERY TOXIC.
      Google all the characteristics for Sociopathic and know that many families have this type of shark with no empathy, that is cruel and likes to steal and trick people.
      Their are 12.5 million Sociopathic people in the USA alone
      I have 26 years in the psychology field and now you have a piece of the puzzle.
      This is NOT a mental illness they think like a shark due to their brain.
      Pet a shark and you may lose a hand if you have something the sharks wants to steal and run away with.
      They are insecure and jealous and never cry unless they fake it for money or at a funeral to look sad.

  32. I have a step sister who is older, all of our childhood she would cause problems between us brother and sisters, always kept arguments between us, as we grew older she would do it with our mom, get her mad at us and wouldn’t speak for weeks. My sister is 60 years old now, and even though our parents are gone she still keeps the family in an up roar, even said things about me when my dad died, about the way we did his arrangements she said I had no decisions since I wasn’t paying for anything, but out of six children, three of us paid his funeral cost and she wasn’t one of them. I am just so feed up with her turning the family against each out her. What should I do?

    1. My experience is with an overbearing older brother. I have no other siblings. In your case, maybe you should sit down with your other siblings and form a united front. You need to get them on your side. Either you step-sister falls into line or she’s going to find herself ex-communicated from the family. When my parents were still alive, it was more difficult for me to deal with my brother. If we had a stand-off because I could see my parents getting stressed by it, so I bit my lip and tolerated him. Now my parents are no longer here, my brother has found that the consequences of his behavior are rather different. I ignore him! For over a month I didn’t pick up the phone to him. If there’s a next time it’ll be longer. After that I’ll make it permanent. The cold shoulder can be very effective.

  33. Ive had a sister in law for many years now whom I thought was a friend and true family member, long story short I found out a few years ago not only was she saying cruel things behind my back (ie I faked being a paraplegic for 4yrs from MS to get sympathy, my MS and 3 brain tumors were pretty much fake in her eyes, all done to gain sympathy supposedly) Im not the only one shes done this to and more. She went to my daughter in law, kids niece, and other extended family attempting to destroy the relationships by saying things to them I never said but she said I did. My family and were so good to her kids in so many ways, she and my husbands brother never bought my kids gifts, sent a card, stayed in touch etc. The final straw was about 3yrs ago she said a comment I made on my Facebook page was about her, which it 100% was not. She unleashed her furry on my FB page, private messaging, texts. I gave up, wrote her off and shes been a complete with ever since and when Ive seen her(luckily she lives over 6hrs away) her and her mom ignore me and somehow my daughter in law got dragged into it so her as well. Shes always been a narcissist to the 100th degree and I just figured good riddance, however I was hurt Ive been accused of something I didnt do. I recently found out she still speaks bitterly about me and what happened. I didnt think she truly thought I was talking about her, apparently shes still on a vengence to hurt me and my family. My son and the DIL she ignores got married last month and she had no intention of going until my MIL made it known my son wanted his uncle(I use that term loosely) but you could tell the whole time she didnt want to be there, ignored me and my DIL(even though it was her wedding)Part of me wants to make it known I wasnt talking about her to clear my name, the other part KNOWS it wont happpen and is a waste of time. I thought we were family for so long, nievely confided in her(she used that all against me of course) and wonder why she disnt just tell me or not pursue a relationship with us. It was all fake. Guess thats the narcissist in her that wont ever change.

  34. I have a jealous sister who has caused so much trouble in my husband’s family that I would need a book to tell you what she has done to make me the worst person in the world. One by one she turned family and friends against me. My mother-in-law doesn’t like me (she wrote my husband out of her will) because she confuses me with another relative of my husband’s with same name as mine. The following is something I read on Facebook, “I forgive people, but that doesn’t mean I accept their behavior or trust them. I forgive them for me so I can let go and move on with my life.”

  35. The oldest sister bullies everyone in the family finally in my mid 40’s I told her to get out and stay out of my life….she came back begging & crying for help the usual… so I suckered up and helped….it didn’t last a few days and she was up to her old tricks…..they don’t have to change if you continue to give in ..I put my foot down & haven’t seen her in almost 11 months I have to say it feels great!!….and honestly wish her absence lasts the rest of my life

  36. My sister is eight years older than me. She has been toxic her whole life. We grew up in an abusive home, but we as kids got the same treatment. Today I am healing or should I say will always be in a healing mode, forgiving my parents and brother is the key. But my sister is so toxic I really don’t want her moving to be near me. Why Because she is an alcoholic, heavy smoker, hateful and very, very divisive. She screams at me telling me I have to take care of her. She always reminds me of how much better she is than me, etc. She is manipulative and her m.o. is always geared toward an agenda. She was always pretty cruel towards me too when we were kids. I’m the youngest, she is the oldest with two brothers in between. I just don’t want to be around her.

  37. I’ve had a problem with an overbearing older brother (by 11 years) since my early teens.

    I’m now 61 and he’s 72 and it still goes on. While our parents were alive, which was up to about 10 years ago, I would often give in to his demands because I could see the stress our regular arguments was causing them.

    These days, I stand my ground but it still makes for an uncomfortable relationship. I try keep him at arms length as much as I can.

    However, I find myself writing this fresh from our latest row. Let me run this past you…

    We live about 60 miles apart and we’re both hi-fi enthusiasts – he more than me.
    Now, I happen to own a rather large and expensive pair of speakers in nice condition. Yesterday,
    he phoned me and told me he had acquired a new amplifier and was interested to know how well
    it worked with my speakers – so can he borrow them? He said he could come down and stick my speakers in the back of his car and take them to his place!

    So I said, very politely, that in view of the size and cost of my speakers, I wouldn’t want to risk getting them damaged in transit as I don’t have the original packing for them.

    This immediately condemned me as being an unfriendly and inflexible person. I said he was quite welcome to bring his amplifier to me and try it out at my place. This, apparently, was a major inconvenience.

    His manner then became increasingly aggressive and unpleasant, culminating with he should have known better than to ask, knowing the sort of person I am. That was the end of the conversation – he slammed the phone down.

    I find his arrogance so breathtaking that I often find myself running scenarios such as this past my co-workers just to get reassurance that it isn’t me who’s being unreasonable.

    In fact, I’ve often “loaned” him things in past. To name but a few, there has been an electric mitre saw, an electric nail gun and a digital camera. And what became of them? Well, he worked the mitre saw to death and I never had use of it for my own purposes. He didn’t offer to replace it or compensate me. The nail gun? Well, maybe it still works, but I wouldn’t know as he’s had it for five years and can’t find it. The camera? Well, he did return it and it still works fine – despite the dent in the front of the casing as a result of him dropping it.

    As I write this, he’s just tried to phone me. I didn’t pick up!

  38. Deadbeat family members all around, currently my brother was arrested for stealing a car and its funny because I do love my brother but he hasn’t been a good son, brother, father in a while. And stealing a car is so desperate for him and so stupid. Funny thing is now that he’s gone, my cousin is trying to take his place in my moms household. My 40 year old even worst relative, guy has 5 kids with 4 different baby mamas, barely sees maybe 2 of them, hasn’t had a real job in forever, doesn’t have his own place, or car, a thief, a liar, a addict. Not too far from my Bro. But this cousin comes around when he needs something which is annoyingly often now; i imagine he must have burned his bridges with the other people he mooches off. My Mom and two elderly aunts live with each other and are on SSI and guess who shows up at the beginning of the month, right on time! So annoying I never had a close relationship with him, never really knew who he was, its like forever having small talk with someone, jokes , no goals no depth, stupid pseudo intellectual bullshit, lies. Dude went to community college for years, racked up loans hes never gonna pay back, no certificate, diploma, nothing. He steals and comes around like what up like nothing ever happened and i’m so fired of it, I can’t contain my anger anymore, i don’t want him around. Dead weight, steals from his mom and comes to my aunts and mom, wants to prey on three vulnerable women, my aunts are both mentally handicapped, and my mom is and ex addict who will slip if he’s around. I ask her why do you let him in, they live on the third floor with a security door, and she says idk. But i know, oh, he’s just bad news, I thought I was getting a break from my brother and its just a swap, he leaves and someone else comes to take his place. He’s a cockroach, guy keeps showing up.

  39. My issues with my parents are that they don’t know their boundaries and are very judgmental and I’ve been in a battle with them for years. Almost 2 years ago, I separated myself from them and it hurts only because they are older I have children and they need to be around their grandparents. Unfortunately, because they want to call the shots in my household as it relates to my children, I have stepped away. They have been reminded numerous times that I am the parent and what I say goes. They still continued to do what they want to do because as they say, “we are the Grandparents”. They would go out and buy an abundance of food, clothes, electronics (computers, cell phones), etc for my kids and then turn around and tell people what they did as if I asked for it. They have also talked about me behind my back to my children and told them that they can provide them anything that they need, which is a No-No. My husband and I are fully capable of taking care of our family and although we appreciated them giving gifts here or there we asked that they stop the excessive gift giving because in my children’s eyes it appeared to them that we couldn’t provide it to them. Although, there are other bigger toxic issues than this, I would consider this an issue because it deals with boundaries and how people can over step the boundaries. The last time I told my father about him overstepping his boundaries he hung up the phone and never spoke to me again and that was almost 2 years ago. My mother followed suit although we have spoken on the telephone a few times and communicated by Facebook throughout the past year on different occasions. I have come to accept them for who they are however I cannot subject my children to that type of behavior. I am trying to teach my children to be humble individuals and that they can have great things in life however you have to work for those things, not have them handed to you.

    1. To whoever this is, i feel you!….Whoa! swear to god.,..its like im you and your me…;-^) …(#ordidipostthis)…were livin the same life!..

  40. my sister is a money hungry b**ch .stealing my parents life savings.and calling me a liar when i busted her with a big sock fullof money in her hand while mum was dying in the next room waiting for the ambulance..then at the hospital my sister was saying im in charge u cant just walk into mums hospital bed in critical care,she has mum and dad convinced im a liar i want to not go back to see mum and dad but ive had parents are worth about 2 million dollars.i want to sell my house and ove 60 and have enough health problems

  41. I’ve been having problems with both my sister in laws. The middle brother’s wife once said to me “if I don’t do as she says I will not see her kids when she has them ” I won’t be manipulated by anyone. I won’t go around to my middle brother’s house because she does nothing but shout at me so I stay away.. Also I’ve over heard her shouting at my middle brother over the phone to get home and won’t let my brother go out with the second oldest brother and his wife.. The second oldest brother wife doesn’t want me around her 6 month old baby. They avoid coming around when they know I will be at mum’s home.. Both brothers don’t make the effort to see me or my family.. All my family do is put me down and look down their noses at me and my family.. Hate being the scapegoat.. Would love some advice on how to handle problems with toxic family members.

  42. Thank you for sharing your experience with your toxic family members! It sounds like it’s been a difficult time, and there are no easy solutions or tips for coping with parents who are so unhealthy.

    You’re doing the right thing by sharing what you’re going through. Expressing yourself is so important — get all those negative, toxic emotions and thoughts out of your body, mind and soul. And, your story shows others that they aren’t alone.

    May you find healthy ways to support your family members – and take care of yourself. May you know when to draw the line, when to separate yourself, and when to say no. And, may you find people who love you and care for you – and who don’t carry the burdens your family brings.

    Here’s an article I recently wrote on forgiveness, which may help you move forward:

    7 Steps to Forgiving Someone Who Broke Your Heart

    I talk to my mom (who is quite mentally ill) every week, and every time we talk I find myself having to forgive her for not being the mom I need and want. Forgiveness is a continual process, and one of the best ways to cope with toxic family members.


  43. i just need to put this SOMEWHERE. two weeks ago my father texted me and told me he was really sick… kidney stones and tumors on his liver and stuff. a few days later, his wife calls me on three way with him because he is too sick to talk and asks me to take him to the hospital. when i arrived at his house, no one answered. I ended up having to call 911 because i knew he was inside and i could hear his phone ringing but there was no answer. the EMTs came and revived him after breaking open his front door using forcible entry. this whole situation caused me to have very bad anxiety because i really dont know my father too well. I just started getting to know him in the past few years and i felt like i was going to be robbed of our connection. turns out he was on medicine for his conditions that says not to drink and he was drinking. so he just passed out. with the stove on. It really hurt me and then he had the audacity to go out and buy a six pack after the EMTs left. Two weeks later, his wife calls me and sends me all these text messages from his phone and apparently he’s been cheating on her while she’s been away dealing with her own family issues and trying to support his illness. This happens every couple of months that my father and step mother involve me in their relationship. I am sick of it.

    My mother on the other hand just got evicted 2 days ago. In addition to this, my 4 and 5 year old siblings are homeless with her. I am terrified for them and also irritated that they are in this sitation because when i was born, i was also homeless and my mother and i lived in a homeless shelter until my grandparents got sick of it and got custody of me. my mother has had issues her whole life, shes a child of abuse, a survivor or rape, actually an amazing mother, but she just cant seem to get a hold on her finances or on her romantic life. i am constantly getting involved in her personal relationships, i’ve even gone so far as to punch her husband in the face when she called me out of my room to protect her because he was trapping her in her bedroom.

    I say all this to say…. my parents cause me a lot of stress. i feel like I am actually the parent and have to monitor and counsel them. I am so tired. i am a recent grad and its taken me 3 years to get a job in my field and only just 4 weeks ago did i start working this job on full time hours. I am trying to get my life in order and be happy and prepare myself to create my OWN family maybe. but i feel like every time they contact me, its because there is bad news or something bad will be happening soon. I just wish my parents would grow up and act like adults. I know a lot of this guilt is nonsensical, but i also have poor boundary setting skills (BECAUSE OF MY PARENTS AND FAMILY) and so i’m just overwhelmed.

    i feel so much better getting it out and knowing i’m not the only one with difficult parents. i really think some people need counseling before being allowed to have children.

  44. My family is extremely dysfunctional. Having grown up with racism, sexism, prejudice, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, incest and psychological disorders its difficult to determine what a normal family is.

    I don’t believe that any of these tips are helpful in my case. The only thing that has been fool proof is avoiding all contact with problem family members. Though its difficult when that includes all my distant relatives and most of my immediate family. I would appreciate an article on solving real problems, not minor irritants.

  45. If I say my wife has a toxic personality it makes me a toxic person. We have a daughter together that I love more than anything else. I love my family my Sisters too. From the beginning of the marriage the wife’s family started playing games so that I get distant to my family. We started on and off fights over it. My Wife starts it and calculatedly says things that I don’t like and can’t accept. All day she orchestrates my daughter to not talk to my Sisters. When ever she talks she starts okay its time to sleep, I am not feeling well et al and I hear she let her talk to her Sisters and Parents. She makes the environment so poisonous that I feel I am in this marriage just because of my daughter, I neither want to lose her not I want her to lose her Parents together situation that will be the result of divorce. Now you may think my Sisters must have done something, right? My Sister has Cancer. My two elder sisters take care of my aging Parents who themselves are sick. All they want is to hear the kid’s voice, it makes their day a bit better. My daughter love them too but starts looking at her Mom when the phone comes in her presence in the room. My wife has told me that she suspects all my family wants is to take away the Kid from her and kill her – a complete preposterous nonsense. The day I found that cancer could be spreading she was celebrating birthday of her brother-in-law over phone. Her attitude is killing me. She often complains how she is not getting enough sex. I have left barely any attraction for her. I checked with my Physician to make sure if I am suffering with something as my frequency of love making has dropped considerably and it all came out good and the physician said it could be due to lack of attraction. I am sharing all this because I have no idea what to do?

    1. Sorry to hear about your situation but I have no answers for you. I can only share my story. My brothers wife sounds similar to yours. Brother and I were very close before he met her. Now we don’t talk or see each other anymore since their wedding couple years ago. I found out she was jealous how close we were as brothers earlier on when they first started dating but now they have a child and he only talks and interacts with her side of the family. Not once has she ever called or anything. I was always the first out of anyone to give them a hand or go out of my way for them as I cared so much for my bro. I was heart broken and disappointed how much he has changed because of her but I’ve learnt now that I have my own life and only up to me to continue forward and not dwell or be around selfish, hypocritical, jealous people. All I suggest is grow some balls and be the man. Your folks or siblings won’t be around for eternity. I’m sure when they pass you’ll regret not seeing them or staying in contact with them. All the best and hope it works out for you.

  46. I need to find a way to get this freeloader niece of my husband out of our lives. She’s 40 years old I keep telling my husband to stop being nice to her and not to party with her male friends at her room. Almost every night. I am tired of it. But he says it’s his house, but really it’s his Mother’s. I been with him for 8 years and this is the third time she moves back, cause she has been kicked out of many room mate’s and apartments she would rent. It’s gotten to the point that my prifurr to kick me out. We r fine when we r alone. But when she is around she acts like if she suffers in this live. Always saying she has a job but I never see her work. I love my man so much that it’s killing me. I am good to them and cook for them. I do it cause she cleans dirty , she is very messy leaves bathroom wet and dirty, does not pick up after herself. My husband tells me to let her do something but I can’t. Can’t my husband see how she is? All she does take shower and put a lot of make-up and dresses well can’t say or explain. I want to leave, but like I said I love my man, I want to be strong and leave, I can’t do it. Help.

  47. My toxic relative is my older brother. Too make a very long story as short as possible, he has been coddled far too long by my mother. For as long as I can remember, he has taken and taken and taken whatever he can get from both of my parents. My dad doesn’t enable him at all. In fact, they have had many fallouts over the years. Here’s the main issue…..he is a raging alcoholic with severe anger issues. He feels as if he has been dealt a rotten hand of cards. He is always in a bad mood, constantly belittling his wife in front of others, and his kids don’t understand why he is so mean to their mother.

    In October, my husband and I rented a beach house and invited my parents, my brother and his family. It started out rough due to the fact that they were three hours late and we had been planning appetizers and meals upon their arrival. The only excuse was that someone stopped by their house before they left and they couldn’t just tell her that they were heading out to a family get together. My brother and his wife do not communicate well and this caused him to become very angry with her. He came in the door ticked off and proceeded to pop off about everything. I told him to leave. This infuriated him and caused a major family fight. My thought is, we are paying for this fabulous house and he comes in ready to rumble. No thank you!! It was my birthday and he was not going to spoil it. The next two days were awful. My sister in law had to leave the next evening to go to work and my brother stayed with his kids. He drank ALL DAY LONG and was weird and belligerent . We all went to bed around 11:00 And he decided to go out by himself. I woke up at 3:00 and he was not home yet. I panicked and called his wife. She said that if he did not show up by the time we were ready to leave, then he could find his own way home. He ended up coming home at some very late time and was still intoxicated the next morning. My husband and I had done all of our packing the night before. The next morning I woke up first and started to load our car. I let my husband sleep as he works crazy hours and I do not work. He pays for everything and is very generous. It is the least I can do and I do not mind. I packed up all of his kids things and got various other things ready to go for him. He was livid that my husband was not up helping me. He barged into our room and yelled at him. Needless to say, they will never be invited to partake in any of our vacations ever again.

    Fast forward to Christmas. I arrived at their house that morning to watch his kids get their presents. We clean up the mess and he started his first round of anger by complaining about my mother recycling the wrapping paper. Next was breakfast, which was actually enjoyable. Then the drinking started again. He started with mimosas and switched to beers for the day. During all of this time, the women are prepping stuff and getting the table set, cleaning, etc…. His only job was to prep the filet we would eat for dinner. The day progressed with him popping off to my sister in law and her giving it right back to him. So you can imagine, it was a very tense environment. The kids were thankfully playing outside with their friends ( they are 8 and 10). All through the day, he would pull me aside to complain about his wife and she would pull me aside to complain about my brother. It was exhausting and very stressful.. I told them both to get therapy or a divorce.

    He got very angry because we wanted to eat by 6:00. His comment…..I am the grill master and I say when we will eat. The grill didn’t even have propane and he became extremely angry about this and blamed it on my sister in laws dad that lives 100’s of miles away? He ended up having to cook it in the oven. Mind you, ALL other dishes have been cooked and needed to be reheated again. The anger and yelling continued. I decided that I wanted to leave and go back to my house. My husband was working 24 hours and the house was quiet….just what I needed. He followed me out of the house, screaming and yelling at me in my face. I told him to back up because I was afraid he was going to hit me. Nasty words were exchanged by both of us…..not proud of that, but I had reached my limit. My dad wanted to leave as well, but my mom wanted to stay. He told me later that night that the meal was awful. No one talked, the food was dry from being reheated numerous times, and the meat was overcooked. So glad I went home.

    The worst part of all of this, my mother blames me for everything. She said I should have ignored them both. I ruined Christmas. Really????? She has created monster. I am choosing to cut my brother out of my life until he can own up to his verbal abuse to all of the family and admit he has a drinking problem.

    I will not feel guilt over this decision. Just need validation that I am making the right choice. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

  48. Dear Anita,

    It is so hurtful when a family member rejects or insults you — and when it’s your own son, it hurts all the more! I’m sorry you had to hear him call you that. It’s painful, and so difficult to forgive or forget.

    Our families are supposed to love and cherish us, not cause us pain. And, our children should be honoring us, not dishing out insults!

    But, life is not what it’s “supposed” to be.

    I’m not an advice giver, but here are some questions to think about:

    What will you gain by not going to your sister’s Christmas dinner?
    How do you want to be remembered after you’re gone?
    What action can you take that will spread the most peace, joy, and love this Christmas?

    With love,

  49. I have a dilemma especially with the holidays coming up. I have had a very contentious relationship with my son. I have tried to be civil but our last communication took a dive into hateful language with my son calling me the worse name you can call a female (c***) and that I was dead to him. That did it and I cut off all communication with him. My sister is hosting this years family Xmas dinner this year and plans on inviting my son to the dinner knowing full well what he said to me and my feelings of not wanting to be around him. I’m disturbed that she would consider inviting him. I feel she is enabling his behavior. Am I wrong? Should I go to the dinner if he does not attend and do I speak to my sister to let her know how I feel about her decision?

    1. Hello, I am on this site looking for answers to a similar situation. My son has turned against me because his wife doesn’t like me. I have a grandson whom I love and he seems to be the most sensible. My granddaughter treats me exactly the same way her mother does. They are so rude and do not hide the fact that they can’t even stand my voice. I hate being in their company now. I dread Christmas as my son will most likely invite me over. However, it will end badly with me feeling so hurt and helpless. I understand that the way they are is not my problem, but theirs. I was thinking of telling my son instead that only those ppl in his family who love me and want to be in my company should come visit ME at my home. Good idea? Or not? I am not going to stress myself out with this. I suggest you do the same. It’s not easy, but perhaps talking to your sister about how you feel would help. But remember she has no issues with him right? And she loves him too. I suppose if your son spoke to your sister about not inviting you, she still would. It’s your decision to make and which ever one you make I hope it makes you happy. While I hope that my son’s while family will visit and behave…I’m ok with just my son (maybe) and/or my grandson or just my grandson. If no one comes then I will find something else to do that makes me happy and move on grateful for not having to feel bad! Life is too short! Good luck…d

  50. toxic is a short way to put it. our family uses turmoil to bond it seems. I had a drug problem and “ran away” from home with my boyfriend in 2007. subsequently I went to prison and was released in 2010. I was determined to show my sisters that was a good person who made bad choices. one of my sisters died of a stroke at 30 in 2011 and we remaining siblings decided life was too short to seperate ourselves from eachother. from that day on I have tried everything to show thru action that I am committed to sobriety and honest living. I also suffer from bi-polar I and I went on about an 8 month run, no drugs or drinking but obsessive about work, and became poa for my father who is I’ll physically and mentally. I gave 3 1/2 years to him until I crashed on this last Manic and my sisters had to reluctantly step in as care givers as well. I work under the table and pull in about 3200 a month, my father owed the IRS almost 100,000. 3 times I had to stand infront of an appeal board to keep his assets liquid. I succeeded every time. I was also subsidizing his care needs plus lawyers fees, and my sisters who have a rocky resentful relationship with him, all of a sudden wanted to take over, since I was having mental health issues. I agreed and they have now told my father I took all his money. this is false. I just paid in cash since that’s how I get paid. his cost of care went through the roof and I foolishly subsidized it in CASH. Now they won’t speak to me and have threatened to file charges against me. I love my family, sure we are weird but who isnt? I also asked that our trust from our grandmother be dissolved since they are of age and I am unable to live in the home I own 1/3 of. my sister has moved her 2 kids and husband in and my mother as well. when I asked to be bought out even more hell broke loose. now we don’t speak unless the want to remind me about the criminal charges they think they have against me. let me say that once a felon always a felon, mine was white collar crime, and I won’t be able to hire a real lawyer, so some public pretender will be as bad as me going and representing myself. I live in fear of their venom and my mother takes a back seat to it all for fear my sister will kick her out. I’m so deeply sad that all my work on myself and building a relationship with them is for naught. I’m loosing so much, but what other alternative do I have? they hate me. they un-friended me on fb. won’t take my calls, nothing.I’m devistated and obsess over it daily. what do I do????

  51. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how you’re handling problems with family. Your comments are so helpful to other readers, and I hope that writing has helped you sort through some of your thoughts and emotions.

    I can’t give advice, but I will keep you in my prayers. May you find peace and love, and may your family problems be alleviated by your relationship with God. There are no easy answers, but I pray for hope, faith, and peace in your life.


  52. Fighting with a drunk. I don’t know where I heard that fighting with a drunk is a lot like fighting with a pig, when you fight with a pig you only get dirty and the pig likes it. I spent the night with my sister and brother-in-law, both of them are heavy drinkers. They live 13 hours away from me by car so we don’t spend a lot of time together, and I usually make the visits short and sweet. My family of origin were heavy drinkers that fought often and usually at a time like Thanksgiving, Christmas when most families celebrate and come together as a family, in mine it was a time to get drunk and fight. My sister has many unresolved issues going back to our childhood, with 27 years of sobriety and a shit load of work my king sized dragons have largely been reduced to the loveable size of chickens. I am 68 years old and feel like even if I live another 20 years I have very little time left to be a friend and family to my sister. There just isn’t any fight left in me, and I have made my amends. We get along now but it is a very fragile truce which leaves me on edge when I am around her especially when she is drinking. I have no problem with other people drinking around me my sobriety is not dependent on circumstances, other people, or situations, my sobriety is totally dependent on what resided between my ears. The alcohol had taken over the evening my nephew a drinker his wife not a drinker his children my sister controlling her drinking and my brother-in-law not controlling his drinking. This is usually a stressful time for me I am waiting for my long dead parents to show up and start a fight but tonight was different I was sitting in the arms of my god who was protecting me. I was fearless not in an aggressive way just fearless knowing that loving my sister and myself was the most important thing to me in the moment. I have also learned a few things and have achieved a high level of skill when dealing with my own anxiety, aggressive and disagreeable self and the aggressive disagreeable behavior of others. My nephew had a long simmering question formed in the disguise of a comment masquerading as an apology. He wanted to know why I had kicked his ass for showing up at his cousins wedding battered and bruised from a drunk the night before, did I know it was his 21st birthday and he was only doing what any good-red-blooded American boy would have done, what’s the problem. I looked at him and quietly and sincerely asked him what he needed from me. He said, I just wanted you to know. I explained to him that everybody makes mistakes but there consequences to mistakes and the consequence of his mistake was that I kicked his ass. I also told him that I didn’t think he was a bad person just a human that had made a mistake and for the most part he was a solid nephew who I loved a good husband a great father and an all-around good man. I have given it my best shot and hopped that he knew that I really did love him. Then it was my brother-in-law’s turn he wanted to defend my sister and right the wrongs that had been dumped on her as a preteen. He wanted to talk about something that happened between my sister and brother and kept repeating their names in the same sentence that really wasn’t a sentence because it didn’t end, it was and endless loop that started but never made a point and never ended. What I know now is that he was trying to provoke me into a family battle that was all too familiar and would end with me acting like an asshole, he could kick me out of the house and then he would have proof positive that I was a jerk, unworthy of any respect, love or kinship. What he put forward was an illusion an illusion fueled by my sisters unresolved pain and alcohol. The only way there was going to be a fight was if I gave the illusion weight and/or substance, which I was not going to do. Besides fighting with a drunk is not a fair fight when you are sober. I love my sister, my nephew, and yes even my brother-in-law and just don’t want to add to their pain by giving credence to their drunken illusions/delusions.

  53. I have an in-law problem my sister-in-law. I am only civil to her because of my husband. I try to be friendly and make her welcome when she visits but she really seems to get my back up. I try to ignore some of her chatter which mostly is about kids and babies no matter how many hints I drop that we don’t like it she stills brings it up in conversation. I have now decided to only see her now and again as this situation is making me stressed and annoyed and I don’t see why I should put up with it anyway.

  54. Hello, I’m sorry, I’m just lost and i have no one to talk to, i want to talk to my therapist, but as it happens, me and my sis share the same therapist.
    It all started when my sis met this guy who caused her a huge depression its been taking a toll on her for the past 6 months now, she is now severely depressed and only started therapy this week (1st session).
    this guy left her since two to three weeks now, he is married, and he had been dragging my sister along, and now he just left her without any previous signs. she took it way too hard, and been asking me to be there for her, and i have been trying my best, also i want u to know that all the time she got depressed i started getting depressed too. my sister lives alone, and im married, i try to swing buy to see her almost as much as possible which should help her feel better. In the past three days she started asking me to contact this guy and convince him to get back in touch with her, and i have refused, we had 3 huge fights over this issue, and she decided to cut me off her life and told me that she will hate me from all of her heart. im worried she might really do that, and im scared for her wellbeing so i asked my dad to try and take care of her, which made things even worse, even though she was the one who asked my dad to visit her on the same day she decided to stop talking to me. but still she blamed me for asking my dad to take care of her everyday which, according to her will add to her problems.
    i dont know what to do, im heart broken, im also worried for her health, and her future, im trying to stay positive, and pray that this will all go away one day, but i cant stop worrying about it.

  55. Sandy, I had exact same issue with my sister this year. She is PA when her mood dips, I’m the punching bag, I called her up on it and sent a screen shot of her messages to me and sent it to our Immediate family’ group text (my bad). She didn’t speak to me for months and when she did, was PA. I stuck to my guns and waited it out without contacting her, she eventually came round.

  56. I have a sister that is a know-it-all and she is self-centered. She got mad at me because I called her out on something that she did that was blatantly crossing the boundary line. She hasn’t spoken to me since then. She must think she is punishing me, but I don’t see it that way. I have tried to ask her what is making her hold this grudge and to tell me what is bothering her. She won’t reply to any of my questions. She just ignores me. That’s no way to solve a problem. I see that many of the folks on this site have the opposite problem from what I am faced with. Their parties are giving them too much talk, where mine won’t talk. Ironic isn’t it, that I want my know-it-all sister to talk to me? I just don’t think it is healthy for her to shut people out because she can’t be wrong or told about it. She must feel that she has power and control in our situation, but I feel sorry for her. She’s basically a coward who can’t face up to responsibility when she does something wrong.

    1. Wow, this sounds like my sister, Sandy. Maybe they don’t want to face up to responsibility because then that would make them feel guilty?

  57. My toxic behaviour sister is getting married this week and , as usual, is causing havoc, while laying blame on me, her favourite scapegoat. A beautiful and highly intelligent,but insecure and manipulating woman , she unfortunately has sibling rivalry to a really deep degree. It gives me no pleasure to say this , and being on the receiving end is no compliment, but her hatred of me is psychotic at this stage. We’ve never had a healthy relationship, despite my best efforts. I’m the eldest, with good strong relationships with both my parents and my other sister . It is this element that brings out her jealousy and unacceptable behaviour). I’ve examined my behaviour ( tortured myself for years on this) and have determined that the best thing I can do , at this point is grit my teeth ( again!) till the wedding is over and then,accept that we’re not going to have any relationship let her go and walk away from the toxic manipulating behaviour. I wish her and her new husband all the best, but I must protect myself from their ridiculous drama and step back. I’ll still remain close to the rest of my family, but , like many other commentators here, I will not enable that unreasonable behaviour by being in her poisonous company anymore . My heart goes out to all who find themselves in this horrible situation- may we all find peace, Grace and healing.

  58. I have a sister-in-law who caused trouble between me and my sister and between me and my mother – she spread lies – and who also interfered in my job. I refuse now to have anything to do with her; I can’t trust her after what she did and I don’t accept the excuses that the lies were a slip of the tongue or she was upset and acted in the heat of the moment when she messed with my job. I turned the other cheek for years for the sake of family unity and not to cause trouble in my brother’s marriage but I simply couldn’t take any more when I realised the baton had been passed to the next generation and my niece criticised me at a family gathering. I drew a line in the sand and have never regretted it. I realise now that I felt sick at family events, worried about what had been said about me etc, and I’m glad I made my feelings plain and stood up for myself. I didn’t ask people to take sides, just asserted my right to set boundaries to protect my interests, and I wish I’d done it long before. My sister-in-law’s always got her own way with everybody else and I think that at heart people wish they had the guts to call her to order too. I did it because I realised that if I didn’t I’d be the family’s punchbag for the rest of my life. It’s hard to stand up to this type of bullying but it’s worth it.

  59. My twin brother and my mom have episodes as I call them! It is when my mom hits my brother he says something and it repeats an usually last for 5 minutes and then my mom keeps blabbing her mouth for an average of 7-8 minutes but the other day it lasted for 33 minutes not including her blabbing and she was being like my abusive ex-dad was and I got super scared! And it all started because my mom blamed my brother of breaking te bed they were putting together when really it was my moms fault but my mom had to be right as always and she started yellig at him them hit him he then said to not hit him she then kicked him and he said I didn’t want to do this anymore (assembling the bed) but my mom had to keep it going and near the end of it my mom was hovering over him while he was curled up on the bench covering his head and face crying and saying stop stop stop please stop while my mom is smacking and hitting him and hacking him with a towel saying aw come one little big boy acting like a little boy get your head the hell up and talk to me! And he said no yout gonna hit me again stop please please stop it! and all that crudy stuff happened

  60. Hi
    I don’t know how to make you understand my situation. I don’t want to say much. I am married, have ome brother who is also married. I am very much attached with my parents. As I am far away from them, I can’t be with them all the time. Recently my brother with his family has started to live with our parents and the problem begins here. Truely speaking , he was cool,decent before marriage. But after getting married a drastic change came in him. He always tries to humiliate my parents, he doesn’t have his own voice- always behaves like an outsider. He never controls his wife’s misbehavior and always tries to support her misdeeds. As he is with my parents I can’t be able to tackle him for his attitude,otherwise he would create problems.

    But I am tired with all these and want to see my parent’s peaceful life. I don’t know how – but I want them to ne happy. Please help me get rid of my painful situation.

    Thanks in advance….

    1. Sorry Dear ! but many Indian parents make toxic in laws. Did you ever check their behaviour with your bhabhi ? there must be a reason why your brother is tough on them.

  61. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’m sorry you’re going through this! Our families are supposed to be our comforts and supports, not the source of tears and frustration.

    I think the most important way to handle family problems is to accept that they’ll never change. They are who they are. Your brother will never start taking responsibility, your mother will never stop enabling him, and the effect on your own family will always be difficult and negative.

    Have you read any of the Boundaries books by Cloud and Townsend? That’s the second tip for toxic relatives: learn where your boundaries are, set them, and stick to them. It’ll help you create healthy relationships with relatives who aren’t healthy, and boundaries will help you handle family problems.

    May your family relationships be filled with peace, acceptance, and even joy! May you learn the best ways to deal with your relatives and cope with their toxic behavior in positive ways. I pray for wisdom and guidance as you navigate these troubled waters, and for hope and faith as you keep trying to maintain peace in your family.


  62. I have a toxic family as Well 13 yrs ago my husband and I bought a home and my mom put the down payment of $7000 down for us because that was all the money she had left of selling her house and if we didn’t buy a house she would have no where to live because she is unable to work and the agreement was that she would pay is rent until we had kids then she would watch our kids for us do we could work…well she never really paid rent for 3-4 yrs only a few hundred dollars here and there. Then we had children. My husband also agreed to never let my one brother live with us because he is totally dysfunctional first he was a drug addict and he could not hold down a job for longer than a few months nor keep an apartment for longer than a year without being evicted.. He has been in and out of rehabs homeless many times .. We let him stay at our home for 1 month and it turned into 6 months then I told hes got to get out…that was 5 yrs ago since then he has gotten sober but continues to not hold a job a place to live or a car.. He has taken my mothers car and is currently living in it.. He comes to my house and sleeps In my mother couch for hours showers my mother does his laundry with the utilities that myself and husband provide.. Over the past year I have told him that he can’t do any of those things but he continues and my mother is not respecting our wishes that it’s our house that we get up everyday and work so hard for. I literally get physically sick when I see the car or hear him in my home. My mother thinks I’m wrong for feeling the way I do that this is our house and why should we allow he to be a freeloader when we work so hard for everything we have. Despite me asking him not to yse our address as his ien he continues to put our address down in his liscence he government health insurance ..etc.. So when the cops look for him they come to my house!! My list if stories can go on forever about how he has effected my life.. nothing is ever his fault and he never takes responsibilty for the bad choices he has made and continues to make and my mother always defends him and make excuses for him… My 2 other brothers don’t really speak to my mother because if this and unfortunately it has ruined my relationship with my mother. I have 3 children and live a happy life with the exception of my mother and brother. I never see this situation getting better I’m at the point of telling my mom that she needs to move out and be with him because she will never stop enabling him. I have mentioned this to her a few times I know she can’t afford to be in her own but I need to save my marriage and keep my children safe. My husband has had enough and won’t tolerate it anymore either and I can no longer protect my mother and brother from my husbands anger towards the situation. As well as my mother tries to make me feel like I’m the bad person constantly. I cry just thinking about it and this has been going on for years and I’m officially done!! I need to some advice???

  63. My problem is that my toxic relative has connections with housing and the state. He thinks that it is his “duty” to involve himself in my family’s affairs. If that is not bad enough, he is retired Navy. That means he also “enlists” cronies into his “entitlement” into our lives.

    This has done nothing but harm to us as his “observations” are not helpful to my gaining employment, or getting any other kind of help for that matter. He has this sarcastic nature about him that either exalts people to a mountain top, or chops them up with his forked tongue.

    As a direct result of his interference, people are conditioned to think the worst of us before they even meet us. I’m just emotionally exhausted with having to deal with this and need it to stop. He does not respect my boundaries. We come from a military family, Navy, and there seems to be no respect for women. Both my father and my uncle seem to be completely devoid of respect as far as the opposite sex is concerned. They do not seem to respect black people very much either. ugh.

  64. It s got to be worth a try I suppose. My parents were busy people, own business etc. there are four of us and im the youngest. My mother winges and nags and moans for England. I had an undiagnosed illness causing flare ups for 16 years, my mother honestly believed I was ill on purpose just to get at her. We all knew that 16 years was the cut off point…we would have to support ourselves from that point on and this we did. Throughout my young adult years moving around a lot I noticed other peoples parents seemed to express concern and interest in a way which mine did nt. Friends exspressed surprise at the lack of interst mine showed..but I knew no different. They were however interested in my helping with the business, I travelled home to help out when they were desperate, arrived,did the work to the sound track of my mothers moaning and went away again…leaving her to wash my sheets which allways found their way to the washing machine as soon as I got out of bed. No matter what the problems going on in my life my mothers were worse…I sat in a hospital bed in agony waiting for the dreaded news from the doctor..and listened to my mum winging about my dad and the business. She knew I was in hospital, and in agony but her lifes dramas just clouded out any thing I was going through. Dad was no saint, he liked the ladies when he was younger. He paid the price by giving in to her every demand as he got older. He was in agony for two weeks before he died and it haunts me how she treat him at that time. Unfortunatley dad died before his job list was finished and we inherited his list. It reached the point where I drove 240 miles to get her a door catch. that door catch put me over the edge. Every little rejection, every time they demanded my presence to work for them and every moan winge and occasion when I have been forced to back down is haunting me. Last week she told her friend how little I have helped with her new house. I hate the house because its like a showroom and we have all had to dance to her tune to get it fit for her. Im boiling with indignity and so so hurt. I daresn t talk to her because I know im just about to boil over and throw everything back at her. If I don that the guilt tri[p which follows will be of epic proportions.
    Why when she was so uninterested in me growing up and leaving home , why does she think I give a flying fig about her house or her kitchen . Humph.
    god that felt good saying all that. im not correcting the mistakes because im not. humph.

  65. Dear Bella,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! It sounds like you’ve been through so much with your siblings. Sometimes breaking emotional ties with our family members is the best way to handle problems. If they aren’t willing to see their contributions and take responsibility, then there’s no point in banging your head against the wall. Sometimes letting go of someone you love is better and healthier than fighting to keep a relationship alive.

    Maybe you’ll always care about your sister. Maybe getting to the place where you don’t care anymore is too much to expect. Maybe you need to grieve your loss and be sad about losing her, while moving on from your relationship.

    It’s hard, isn’t it? My thoughts and prayers are with you.


  66. I just stumbled on this and it has eased my pain and I don’t feel as alone. I am the youngest of 3 siblings and in my 40’s. I was so close to my brother until I introduced him to his wife. I always tried to keep the relationship going, but he wasn’t interested and I had to admit defeat and not contact him anymore, as the rejection was killing me. I have an older sister who is very emotionally sick and I have always been there for her, but the relationship is now making me sick. My sister blames everyone else for her unhappiness and is extremely venomous regarding everyone, especially her own daughter. I am sometimes on the phone for 2 hours listening to it. I have never discussed this with her, but she has terribly hurt me in the passed by allowing my abusive ex husband in and out her house while I was homeless and sitting in a shelter for battered women. I tried to call her one day from the shelter, but couldn’t get through to her for 3 hours because she was on the phone to my abuser. I call her and she ignores my calls and doesn’t return my text messages and I am always left absolutely crushed and wondering if I’ve done something to upset her. As I’ve said, I am now emotionally sick with this relationship and I now need help in breaking the emotional ties from her. I want to get to a place where I don’t really care anymore, like the way I am with my brother. I feel I am in a state of grieving for this relationship. I have however arranged counselling through my doctor and hope this will help me move on from this relationship. Thank you for all the wonderful comments.

  67. Hi Amy,

    Thank you for being here. You sound like a very insightful, smart woman – and I think you need an objective perspective to help you see your relationship with your dad more clearly. There is often more going on than we can see because we’re in the middle of it…but if we tell our story to someone who is once or twice removed, we get a different perspective.

    I encourage you to talk to someone in person about your dad. I can’t give you the advice you need, and I don’t want to mislead you. I also think the sooner you talk this stuff through, the better – because issues left undealt-with can become bigger and more complicated to manage.

    What do you think?

  68. This story may sound selfish somewhat (and sometimes i feel selfish when self analysing the issue, but there you go), I’m 26 years old, and over the last…at least ten years or so, maybe slightly longer, my relationship with my father has deteriorated to a point where I’m constantly angry whenever I even have to see a picture of him or sometimes even when he is mentioned in passing.

    Now I should mention that my parents are in the process of getting divorced after thirty years of marriage (he moved out a year ago, leaving me and my mother in an extremely tight financial state).

    I myself have suffered from mental health issues for the last five and a bit years, and his attitude towards those problems may have exacerbated them, which has led to further…well issues between us.

    He has claimed for many a year that he treats me and my younger brother the same and doesn’t favour one of us over the other, but that just isn’t the case. My brother, much like my father, has mountains of debt, and yet when he lived with us, me and my mam were the ones getting jibes had at us about bringing debt to the house.

    I understand that that probably means that he has many deep set issues of his own, and for that I do feel truly sad for him, because I know he won’t confront those issues until it’s far too late, or perhaps never at all.

    I want to be able to move on from all the mental, emotional and even sometimes physical abuse, but I’m finding it hard to accept that I may never get…well retribution for the years of hell he’s put me and my mam through, so any tips anyone can give me on how to move on with my life would be extremely helpful.

    Thankyou in advance.

  69. Dear Jane Doe,

    Thank you for being here! You sound like a very smart, insightful, resilient person – and I believe you will survive your mom. And, you’ll use your experience with her to help other people – and even change their lives!

    I wrote this for you:

    It’s called “How to Survive a Situation You Can’t Change”, and I believe it’ll help you cope with your toxic mother.

    Read it, and come back anytime to let me know how you are.


  70. i dont know if youl be able to understand or even help me but im hurting inside and really the six steps i dont know they seem generic but il try it out. im a senior in high school ive been accepted and you have no idea how happy i am to leave. my sister and i, since we were little have been physically and verbally abused my our mother. my dads great and usually isnt there when it happens… im 17 now and he will never know. she has great moments and has done a lot. i am thankful for that but i cant take it anymore. my sisters gone to college and my moms just horrible to me. shes always stressed from work and yells and really hurts me inside. i try not to let it affect me and i try to forgive her because shes under stress but theres a point where i cant take it. i think i hate her and i just want to leave. im tired of her threats and although she hasnt hit me in months i want to leave. she doesnt listen and always thinks shes right. each time she yells for an hour at me she then apologizes but i cant take it. i want to leave but im stuck with her even when im in college. i cant just leave because i love my dad and sister. theyre my family too. i love my mom sometimes but i hate how righteous she thinks she is and all of the horrible things shes done to me. this might sound more of a therapy session than a comment and im sorry if i bothered you. i just feel that sometimes there is no escape. i have to keep my honor image at school, make sure people know im okay…. i cant tell my dad because hell get mad at my mom and i dont want that… my sister cant do anything about it….. and even if i wanted to go it would hurt the others i love. what im trying to say is that sometimes people like me, have to endure the pain and just go through life with it at least until i go to graduate school. there i will be my own person. i hate that i cant get help .. i hate that theres no solution… i hate that i have to be with my mom everyday. again im sorry if this sounds like a rant. ive never done this before but i feel like when i write to someone … then i feel better. i cant tell my friends… like i said no one can ever know from school or other family that we have problems in the household. i guess you can say its peruvian pride i dont know. but i always want to be seen as someone who has everything together. i like it that way. anyways i bet your tips can really help others. i just feel helpless stuck here.

  71. Thank you for sharing how you are coping with your family problems. Everyone has a different family, yet the problems are the same: finding the balance between being a loving person, and standing up for yourself so that you are meeting your own needs.

    The trick is doing what you think is right, and not letting your family members manipulate you into doing what THEY want you to do. How do you do this? It really helps to have an objective perspective, such as from a counselor or trusted mentor.

    Who do you talk to about handling your family problems?

  72. The Happiness of Living

    I have a sister who lives with our grandpa who has dementia. She doesn’t care about him. All she has to do is give him his medicine and warm his food and “watch him” and wash the dishes. She is lazy in answering and returning phone calls. She doesn’t initiate anything and is often bored and doesn’t care. She doesn’t say thank you or appreciate any help I do for her in caring for our grandpa. She often frustrates me. She is also passive aggressive. My other sister is worse. I really try hard with them but I have to work with them for our grandpa’s sake. Otherwise, I don’t want anything to do with either one of them because they do not benefit me at all.

  73. Thank you for the comments it makes me see that I am not alone in this problem. I have a very difficult adult brother (35) who acts so immature and controlling that I am starting to actually think he is mentally ill. I have tried to no avail to be kind and supportive of him, but he meets me with accusations of how I have caused all these problems in his life. He brings up past slights from 6 years ago! It’s craziness. When he doesn’t get his own way to goes off to pout and sulk. One more conundrum, he has moved back in with my parents to save money. I would like to have a relationship with my mom and dad, but almost can’t stand to go over to their house since my brother is always lurking about, ready to criticize me for anything and everything. I am starting to realize that I will need to distance myself from all of them.

  74. I know there are a lot of families hurting out there, mine including!!! There is a toxic relationship between my husband and both of our young adult daughters. They have totally stopped communicating with him and have placed me in the middle. One is planning her wedding and wants no part of her Dad to be a part of things but wants me, the other is going in the military and wants her Dad to stay away and include only me. I’m so torn by all this.Life has not been easy to say the least. They don’t live at home so why can’t they just get along and be at peace living their own life. It’s like they are scheming to do what it takes to see my husband and I divorced. My husband has no family of his own and few friends. My family don’t like my husband either. No one will let him from his past behaviors. He just wants for people to get along. Help!!!!

  75. I can truly relate! I have a 54-year old brother who calls his 80-year old mother out of her sick bed to accuse her of not loving him and bless her out because I didn’t call him concerning her accident when he thought I should. He even threatened her to cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas. I fixed his goat! Both are being held at my house. LOL

    Does anyone agree with me that he should have at least asked her how she was doing? But he didn’t! Un-freaking-believable! And rather than thank me for calling him and ask me if there were anything he could do to help me out, he chose to be a total self-centered baby and show his royal azz. He’s lucky I called him at all. I certainly didn’t want to with good reason.

    Since he wouldn’t leave our mother alone to heal at her house and since I was having trouble ALONE commuting to care for my mom, I decided to bring her to my house until she recovers from surgery and the accident but she’s been here going on three weeks now and the stress is really building up. It’s not easy taking care of an elderly parent; especially when my siblings are doing everything in their power to make things worse.

    I had called my sister first about the accident and she leaves work to “help out” because I was having trouble getting Mom to agree to an ER check. But I didn’t ask for her help. I just called to let her know about the accident but my sister jumps in her car and arrives with an empty gas tank (surprise, surprise) so I put $25 gasoline on my credit card in her tank and she takes Mom to ER while I stay home to clean dirt, grass, and glass out of her suitcase clothing, cook dinner, and ready her room.

    The next day, my sister calls in need of $20 more for gasoline so she can get to work. Then she calls a couple of days later to say she’s sick, headed to the doctor, and needs new clothes for work. How is this chic helping me with anything, I want to know? I blew a fuse, made her furious, and we haven’t spoken since.

    Mom had only been a few days out of surgery (gallbladder removal) when she flipped her car in route to my house three Thursdays ago. The EMT’s called me because I was available and I was who she was headed to spend the weekend. I wish I had not called either of my siblings because one is a rich moron that wouldn’t “piss on me if I were on fire” (his words) and my sister is a deadbeat beggar whose income is twice my own. Further, she has no mortgage or child to raise through school as I do and lives with a drug addict bum who’s currently on probation (as if that’s my fault).

    I am flat out sick to death of both of them and wish to God I had not called either of them. It also upsets me that I will have to share Mom’s estate equally with those two boneheads when Mom finally does pass on because they do not help me with her elder care at all. They are nothing but more expense and trouble for me. Even caught my sister at the dollar store with a loaded down buggy of crap after telling me she couldn’t afford to pay me back the $45.

    Good grief! Who needs siblings like the two I have, huh? I can’t believe they’re my sister and brother raised by the same parents. What causes this sort of insanity? It never ceases to leave me in shock and all they have to do is open their mouths.

  76. My husband and daughter (19) seem to always be quarreling; both of them accusing each other of being insensitive and rude, and saying hurtful things. It makes me so sad, I love them both so much and I feel torn apart trying to be compssionate and I see both their points of view but they can’t even be in the same room together without fighting unless I’m there.

    It’s too much for me to solve on my own, so we are all going to therapy as soon as I can schedule it.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share what’s up fo us.

  77. I have a toxic family. Out of five brothers/sisters, I’m the “ONLY” one with a registered vehicle. Everybody in my family call me when they need to be somewhere. It’s driving me insane and its starting to stress me out to where I have chest pains and headaches. I just recently stopped talking to them and accepting phone calls from them and I’m starting to notice how great I’m feeling. My stress is down, and I’m a lot happier. I have a brother who’s on drugs and lives at home with my mom and he can’t drive a vehicle due to unpaid fines and driving classes not being met. I also have an older sister who lives with my mom along with her two children ages 21 and 25, neither of them are driving as well. I have a younger sister who lives with her boyfriend and she doesn’t have a car either. My phone ring all day from these people asking me to take them here and there. My mom does all the calling for them. I wish she would for once stand up for me and tell my siblings to back off but she never will. My dad died may 25, 2011, and when he was living he would go through the exact same thing I’m going through. I refuse to let them do that to me. I’m drawing the line and I’m taking control of my life. I have a son and two nieces I’m raising and they need me to be healthy and strong for them. My mom doesn’t care about me, if she did she would put her foot down with my siblings and tell them to get it together, but she doesn’t. She call me with all these requests of who need a ride where. I hate that I had to distant myself from them, but if I continue being around them I know for a fact my health would decline from too much stress and their not worth it. I love them, but I can do it from a distant.

  78. Came across this site as I am trying to work out why my family is so vile, they backstab, drag up peoples pasts, stick there nose into every ones business, twist things to suit themselves. My nephew as he doesnt have a good relationship with his mother is trying to come between myself and my son by telling lies and saying things that my son has said it is very hurtful I know I need to distance myself but feel sorry for my son as I feel they have used him to have their fun.

  79. It took a lot of courage for me to write in & express my situation.
    I have been research for a long time how to deal with the controlling siblings. I was raised in a very controlling family, my father,and most of my siblings acting that way toward me all my life. I didn’t know all of the thinking, actions of the controlling person like until I read quite a few of the websites about the controlling people. Their actions hurt me so much. I have been dealing with them in a pleasant way but I didn’t get the same respond back. It took me over 30 years to finally learned to stay away from my family. It is the toughest decision I’ve ever made but I realized that none of them have changed & will not change because it happened again just recently. I know now stay away is a good choice for me. I know it will help me heal and be at peace. I pray for me and for them.

  80. Wow, this makes me feel a lot better that I am not the only one with family issues. I feel like every time I see them, parents, siblings, they always manage somehow to upset me and make me regret seeing them. My older sister and brother only need to ask and my parents will go over to baby sit their animals. But as for me, not one of them came when they were called by a nurse in intensive care unit to say goodbye to me. I was suddenly unwell with blood clots in my lungs last year at 24, and the nurses never thought I would make it through the night. The excuse was ‘we had work in the morning’ and ‘but you live so far away’ (1.5 hr drive) I’ve choosen to forgive them, and at least now I know they can’t be counted on. But its hard to see such support for the others. Especially when there was never a falling out or any major difference in our opinions & beliefs.

  81. You can pick your friends but not family members!! Remember a
    relationship works both ways not only one person trying to make it
    work, takes both people to put an effort into it if not you have to come
    to a decision you have done all you can just pray for the other person!!
    Life is too short to beg people to be your friend move on & find some
    more people you enjoy being around!!

  82. This is for Fred. I too, inherited money from an aunt after I literally moved out of my house, leaving my husband and daughter to take care of her while she was dying of cancer. It took three months for her to die. However, she left the money to me, after she had promised it to my brother years ago. My sister, brother and father were furious and it caused us not to talk for two years. My father wrote some scathing letters to me accusing me of coercing my aunt into this. I did not. So, now my father is dead and has written me out of his will WHO THE HELL CARES!! I hated the old bastard as he was an abusive father. I guess he did it to even the score. Money is money and we all die and leave it although I gave some money to my brother, but I guess it wasn’t good enough. Too bad, but I thought I would be kind and share some of it. My aunt left instructions on her death bed that my sister was NOT to get a dime. I promised her that. What was I supposed to do?

  83. Thanks Alisha – I’m glad this article helped! I really appreciate your comments.

    Lori, I hate to say this but it takes years to learn how to cope with difficult, opinionated, critical family members. Two days is not alot of time to prepare for something as big as your daughter’s wedding. To prevent anything terrible from happening, I think you need to keep taking deep breaths and let your mom and sister be opinionated. Your daughter’s wedding isn’t the time to confront them or expect them to change. You may have to hold yourself back, and let your family members be who they are.

    And, try not to let them get to you. You can’t change their personalities or behaviours, but you can change how you respond. Instead of reacting to their toxic comments and actions, you need to square your shoulders, take a deep breath, and remember that you’re taking the high road at this event.

    After the wedding is over, maybe you could find long-term, healthier, better ways to cope with your mom. For now, though I think the best thing to do is just let them be. It’s in the name of peace — it’s not about who is right!

  84. Finally found an article that can get me moving in the right direction. I am 37 years old, married and have a wonderful 20month old. Unfortunately my father lives with us too, he is 80 years old and he is in fairly good health, just not mentally. I suffered years from his mental abuse and crazy irrational thinking that he so enjoys projecting onto me.

    After years of therapy I have come to the conclusion that there is no hope in this relationship, I can’t kick him out, he has no where to go. He loves his grandson to death and I wouldn’t want to use that against him. I do not want to turn into him. I am just an ignorant child in his eyes.

    We want to start working on another child, but he says one is enough and flips out every time we talk about it. I tell him this is my life and he needs to let me live it. I do love my father, but I also realize how harmful he is to my emotional well being, and building these boundaries are the best advice there is .

  85. Ok so my mother and I do not get along at all. She is controlling and very opinionated, she never sees that she makes everyone around her miserable. We live 1500 miles apart so we don’t see each other alot but when we are together, after a couple of days we are at each others throats. It is like she cant handle the fact that I don’t need her in my life any more. Her and my sister pick on my little sister all the time. My sisters ruined my daughters bachlorette party, and her graduation by fighting and causing a scene. Now my daughter is getting married in two days and we are all on pins a needles hoping there is not another stupid embarrassing fight. I am at a loss as what to do. Any ideas on how to prevent a situation from getting out of hand??? Help!!!!!!

  86. Very good article. I’ve been with my husband for 16 years…married 10. Ever since I met him, his mother has wanted me out of the picture. She said nasty things about me and told him he could do better. He ended up marrying me and she tried to tell him he could still walk away (while the music was playing in the church!)

    We used to fight like crazy about her behavior until one day someone said, “Why do you make her such a big part of your life? Just make her a small part and only deal with her when you need to. She’s toxic.”

    This tactic saved our marriage. We now go into situations with her as a team and afterwards agree her behavior was nutty or agree she acted inappropriately. My husband rarely calls her. She has been put in her place.

    We have a 5 year old daughter. For our daughter’s benefit, we allow his mother to have a relationship with her, but it the interactions are very few as it does stress us out to get together.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where I get very stressed out about her, but I know we can’t change her.

    What has been most difficult is the other family members looking at us as the “bad guys” for pulling away. Deep down, I know they understand where we come from, but I believe they think we should put up with it because she is his mom. The whole “Respect your parents” view. I respect her as his mom, but I’m not a doormat.

  87. hi my brother, nephews and my sister in law not speaking to me. my dad past away and he left money to me and my one brother cause we were taking care of him. my other brother gotr mad so i handed the money over to him as a nice gesture. and i only asked for 100.00 he threw the hundred at me. When my mom died she also left the money to me and my one brother

  88. My husband and I are having a dificult time his job is not going well,am a stay home mom,we have 2kids together,He has 1 from previous marriage and so do I, but lately my brother comes every single day with his daughter,my niece,she is a real pain in the butt,bothers my younger kids,very sneaky kid,and my brother does not discipline her at all,they eat in my house everyday,and my husband keeps complaining to me about them been here everyday,on the weekenfs,we never alone because they always in my house,now my husband and I are not talking to eachother for the past 2 days,he kind of kicked my brother and my niece out,and I told my husband that it was not nice what he did told me he didnt care,and he was happy they left,I just feel he is my brother and it hurt me,now I don’t know what to do or how to aproach the situation

  89. I am having a lot of problems with my sister we were very close at on point in time she always invited me to come visit which is only 75 miles away ever since the the summer of 2012 it seems like she critizes me my son and my lifestyle she almost tries to make me feel like she is better than i am she got married when we graduated and he is a very good husband and they have a good marriage they build their own house and have very good careers i am divorced have had bad relationships and some emotional problems at first she was very supportive at first but now she acts like my decisions are wrong i am living with my boyfriend he is a great guy takes good care of me but she goes to church and disaproves and thinks i am living in sin she doesnt invite me to come up anymore and when i call or text her she doesnt call back i dont understand what the problem is if i am happy and it is my life and my decisions i am doing much better emotionally any advice?

  90. they say that family is the best friend that we’ll ever had. best friends who can help, support and listen anytime. But what if they are the problem? how can we tell them our problem? … by the way, I am 18 from Philippines. My parents always quarrel mostly because of financial, and its the reason why my brother and I have to stop schooling, It really affect us. But the most situation that affect us hardly was to see our parents quarreling and now, they snubbing each other for a year. I just thank God that He let me moved to my grandmother’s house. Somehow, I feel pity for them. specially when I hears some negative comments about us from our relatives.It really hurts me… I don’t know who should I lean on… I feel so lonely.seeing my family’s failure is really a hard time.Sometimes, my father is talking to me about my mother and same with my mother talking about my dad, like blaming each other and no one accept mistakes. There are times that I really want to give up and just pray for their safety and health..

  91. Hi,
    I am a 44 year old only child and live four hours away on a good day from my parents. My mother has been diagnosed with dementia and my dad who is 74 refuses help at home. However he does have a cleaning lady who comes in every two weeks and my mother’s brother will come one hour a day so my dad can go grocery shopping. My question is.. should I leave my family behind, my 14 and 17 year old daughters with my husband that I dearly love and move in with my parents? I feel so guilty and so selfish
    can you please help me make a decision? my gut feeling tells me to stay here with my family especially because my husband is in the army and can get called to leave at any moment and keep moving forward because I have returned to college.

  92. I have a question about letting them face natural consequences. What can a person do if it´s another family member who keeps “enabling”, or protecting the person against natural consequences…..!! Just wondering….

  93. Hi, I have a sister-in-law with whom I DO NOT get along. She is a horrible mother, a drunk, asks my husband and I to keep secrets from thier family, involves herself in bad relationships and always calls me crying about how she has messed up. I have done everything I know to do! Thier family always gives in to all her wants and wishes. She has even had one who bought her a house, and when she moved and sold it she kept the money she made from the sale. She is constantly calling and whining about how we never come to see her, the problem is that when we do she always wants us to stay until late like 3 in the morning and watch movies or comics that I do not approve of. And makes it a point to rub my oppinions in to the ground. My husband complains about her, but refuses to put a stop to it!! He says that it would cause a family problem. I don’t understand why he can’t just be honest with her and tell her that she is wrong. Instead, he drinks with her, and laughs at me along with her. And when he is drunk EVERY thing is my fault. He is never like this accept when he drinks. he is a wonderful man, provider and spouse otherwise. I have gotten to a point that I don’t want to see her and face the degredation that comes along with it. But my husband says shes his sister and he can’t just walk away from her. I do not trust him when he is with her. What do I do?

  94. I’m in my late 20s and am an only child. My parents have moved in with me for the past 6 months because they moved to the city I’m studying/working. They argue a lot when I was growing up. My dad has been very hostile toward my mom in the last 5 years. And now he is emotionally abusive toward my mom and I since we live together. We basically cannot talk with him in any calm state, and we can never finish our sentences, and he would jump his gun and curse us out and take the things we said (which are incomplete) and add his own twisted interpretation to it. Communication with him is a complete failure.
    My dad sent me to a relative’s home (very far from home) when I was 15 (against my mom’s wishes), but later I pieced out (he lied to my mom about this too) that he did not pay for my stay at my relative’s place through high school. NO wonder I was treated poorly by these relatives during my stay. When I went to college or grad school, he rarely showed interest in my studies or how I was doing in general. When I tried to call him and talk with him, he would refuse to talk to me.
    Now we’ve been living together, I see that he is so bitter, his perspectives are so twisted, he would say very extreme, bitter and sarcastic statements. When my mom or I have a different perspective than his and tried to communicate with him ideas, he would twist that and say we reject his ideas and he should just die and that would solve the problem. He is victimizing himself in every opportunity he can have and refusing to take ANY responsibility for his actions/family obligations (and I can’t list everything here…). He is going to drive me crazy sooner or later. I cannot live with such person. Disclaimer, me and my mom are reasonable people, we get along with other family members and friends well, and we are nice to people. My dad does not have friends. I think his behaviors are called “crazy-making” or something.
    His side of the family make everything so much worse. My relatives on his side often misunderstand things, twist meanings and add their own “spices” and making communication extremely difficult. This is very disruptive, they essentially create situations that do not exist. My dad would choose to believe his side of the family rather than my mom or I.
    I’m just at the very END OF MY WITS. I really want to tell my mom to make a clear-headed decision for herself to end the pain by leaving him, but I don’t feel like I’m in a position/role to give such advice about my parents’ marriage… I have drawn boundaries, but I don’t know if it’s even possible to draw boundaries with someone so ungrateful and extreme. I have forgiven him over and over and over and over… but I think forgiving someone and allowing them to hurt me again and again are 2 different things! Please help!!!

  95. i have gone through everyones problem and its good to share.i have an aunt who has taken catre of me snce i was akid up to university.i appreciate all these and think she has anoble heart but the problem is that she knows she has helped me and wants to control me .she has never appreciated what i do at all.she has also made it her duty to remind me of how i was abandoned by my fathre.recently we had a fight because she kept telling me that and she got so so tired of her reminding me of that because i have always wanted to have afather so sick of her telling me that am where i am because of her because i know it.i dont want her to make it look like i shouldnt thibnk of my own life but paying her back.

  96. I am 20 and living away from home for university. My parents argue 24/7 and hate eachother. I don’t remember them ever being happy. A good day was when I didn’t wake up to their swearing. For school it was usually my alarm clock. Why they never separated, for the life of me I couldn’t tell you. I have gotten over the whole trying to make them stop thing, because I know I cannot change anything and there is no use trying. What I’m having an issue with is with my boyfriend.We have been dating a year and a half, I love him more then anything and he feels the same way. We’re best friends and I tell him everything. He’s amazing. But I feel like I’m pushing him away. He says I’m scared we’re going to turn out like my parents and that I have to not worry about it. I don’t know how though, I went home to visit last weekend for the first time in months and its like everything came back to me again. I don’t know what a good relationship is supposed to be like and I’m only just starting to be able to communicate my feelings. My parents are paying for school so I can’t just cut them out of my life, nor would I want to. I just don’t know how to get over it.

  97. I moved away from home at 18 to go to college about 4 hours from my parents. Childhood was ok no physical abuse really.. Just my mom pulling my pants down and spanking me to purposefully humiliate me. I was never really close to either parent- basically mom tried to smother and keep me isolated as possible and most of our communication was her chastising me. She was always threatening to abandon me if I didn’t start “acting right” whatever the hell that meant.. Dad was pretty quiet we never talked much at all. Mom has extreme bipolar disorder.. Switching back n forth between leniency and dictatorial crackdown.. I think she got high off her power over me, controlling me and keeping me from going out. She is very immature, unintelligent, and boring. She cheats on my dad for kicks. She even brought her last beau to meet me, and was dimwitted and insensitive enough to ask:”why ain’t you talking to us?” in her stupid hillbilly accent. She tells me ” I don’t need a sermon” when I tell her she’s wrong. Now she bombards me with desperate-sounding texts like “I love you sooo much baby girl you are my whole world” with 15 exclamation marks… If I don’t talk to her for a couple days she’ll piss and moan about how I only talk to her when I need $… Point is her gushy “I lOve you” texts are so irritatingly fake. I wonder how she feels about me really. I suspect she expects me to eventually take care of her economically; she’s in a huge amount of debt with a dead end career–and she wants me to be a lawyer… I don’t hate mom by any means but I just want to be able to keep my hard-earned distance from her w/o losing a relationship entirely

  98. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Jaz,

    I’m sorry to hear how your toxic relatives are creating problems for you! It is so embarrassing when your family members get drunk, especially in front of new friends.

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Handle Relatives Who Get Drunk at Family Gatherings

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts here or there.


  99. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’m falling behind in answering comments; bear with me! I’ll catch up very soon…

    Angel_88, I’m glad you can see how your family is treating you, and I hope you can stand up to them. Many of us would just conform to family pressure and demands! It takes strength and courage to handle problems with family – especially when they don’t let you speak.

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Be You When Your Family Wants You to be Someone Else

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts here or there.


  100. I have a few family members who are alcoholics but, none of them will admit it! Their father was also an alcoholic and they know that but, because they are all functioning alcoholics they do not think they have a problem.

    Whenever we have any family gatherings we always have wine or beer because, if we did not supply it they would bring it. It never fails at every gathering at least one of them gets very intoxicated and becomes an obnoxious drunk. I do my best to forgive them and consider where it comes from but,when they made a friend of mine that was meeting my family for the first time uncomfortable that was my final straw.

    I haven’t spoke to them about it and I am really not sure if I should? I feel if I let it go they will continue to do these things so, I need some advice as to what I should do?

  101. My life is hell!!!!, ever since I brought my mom from overseas to stay with me and my son. She is very demanding,wanted to go to the doctor almost every day,was always asking for stuff,like clothes,shoes,pedicure. And did not want to follow my rules in my own apartment,she felt she has control over me,like I was her slave.
    the batroom was always nasty. She expecte me to come home to clean and cook after work. I though by bringging her I was gonna have at least some emotional support,but Im leaving in depression since ever she came.

  102. i have a huge problem with my family. they never consider that every time the put me down, they keep kicking me around and around. i have no such voice at all and even my right is revoke as well. they tried to make me someone im not.also when i tried to say what im my heart they shut me down and contradict making me feel like trapped in hell here. the only thing that make me happy at home is technolgy, my friend, doing something creative, amd something like. but not my some of my family. please help me!

  103. I have had problems with my husband´s toxic family. My mother in law is extremely dependant on her kids to the point that she has never worked a day in her life and now that she is divorced a second time, expects her kids to support her economically and she is only 55 years old and very healthy. His sister who lives with his mother is still single and is the one with the most economical burden because she has to support her mother and her half brother (son from my mother in law´s second marriage) who has a learning dissability and has had to pay for all medical costs, expensive special schools, etc. My sister in law is also toxic since she is always getting into trouble with her relationships with men and is a compulsive buyer and is up to her eyeballs in dept.

    They are in constant problems with one thing or another and every time my husband would go visit them they would fill his head with all of their problems and he would come back home burdened and with a guilt trip because I have tried over the years to convince him that he is not responsible for their actions or decisions. His mother can find a job at anything to help herself out but he has always been afraid of her because she was very violent with him when he was a child.

    Anyway, he las let me take control over how she and his sister affect us and I decided 3 years ago to cut them out of our lives. We moved much farther away from them and since now I am the “bad” one they decided to never come to our home which I can´t be happier. I never liked the atmosphere or vibes of our home after they would visit us. He can go visit them whenever he wants and help them out if there is a major emergency but even he has learned that his family is disfunctional and toxic and should be kept at a distance and far from our daughter.

  104. My mom comes packaged with a variety of attributes. Sometimes she is toxic because of her negativity and desires to be waited on, although she can do for herself. She is overweight, doesn’t eat much. She has trouble giving herself a proper bath. When I was a child my stepdad tried to molest me and my sister and when we told my mom she said that she didn’t believe us. I thought that I had put this behind me, but I wander if I’m still upset with my mom for not intervening. It has made for a strained relationship. I feel like finally I had been able to move past my life as a child. Now my mom is becoming more dependent, wanting a us to become her personal assistant and offering advice that we haven’t asked for. We love her, but she knows how to bring you down and try to manipulate you. Now I have a chronically ill child who has breathing problems and has a gastrostomy feeding tube. My mom wants to move in with me because she and my older sister argue alot.
    You cannot use the same bathroom as my mom because she poops on the toilet. She says that she cleans behind herself, but don’t have to go to the bathroom in a hurry because you may not get to sit down in comfort. I know my letter is somewhat disorganized, please excuse the disassociations. The other thing is that she has multiple homes, is a really bad hoarder and can’t take care of any of the issues for herself. I do have a younger brother who is about 32 years old and he says that hecan’t help help take care of her because she is his mom and not his dad. He is a medical worker and

  105. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Anne2. Though I’m sorry you’re in a similar position as the first Anne, I’m very glad you shared your story here. If it doesn’t help her, I know it’ll help others. The more tips for toxic relatives we share, the better able we’ll be to handle family problems!

  106. Anne’s mother and father sound like mine, I completely empathize. I had to move away and limit my exposure to my Mother’s slice and dice moves. In the past few years, similar to what was mentioned above, I leave her presence or end the phone conversation to attempt to curb her selfish, negative, obnoxious, critical, judgemental and controlling behavior. Aging has made her worse and her public displays and rudeness towards others has hit new highs. She sees no wrong with herself, couldn’t apologize if her life depended upon it and sorry is an unknown concept. I accept she is what she is and but choose not to dwell in her realities. For years I felt guilty for not loving her like I knew I should but as I age I have learned the variants in the concept of love and have a place for her, just not what maybe another’s definition. Her example serves me as something to not be and teaches me daily to be kind, positive, supportive and helpful to others along with huge gratitude for the good in life. The biggest saving grace, thank you God, I am not like her. Hang in there Anne and I will, too!

    1. Anne2, I am exactly like you. My mother is exactly like yours. After 50 years of trying, and 50 years of feeling bad about myself, I’m done. I can no longer be around her toxicity and I’m tired of always leaving her presence feeling bad about myself. Feel free to email me anytime to share stories.

  107. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Jim,

    An “Elderly Parent Whisperer” is a very interesting concept, but I’ve never heard of one!

    However, I do know that there are many, many top-notch counselors and psychologists who have experience with elderly seniors who have dementia or a cognitive impairment.

    I suggest asking your family doctor for a referral to a support system of some kind. Both you and your mother might benefit from objective, professional support. You’re already headed in the right direction — reaching out for help and sharing what you’ve been through — and now you need to surround yourself with resources that will give you the strength and courage you need.

    I just wrote an article called How to Find Solutions to Relationship and Family Problems, which describes six ways to get help. It might give you some new ideas.

    I wish you all the best — and welcome you to come back anytime to update me on how you’re doing!


  108. My mother is not “toxic” but now, having been diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, she occasionally has severe bouts of stubbornness that are “hard to take”. This typically happens when she needs to get up in the morning but absolutely refuses to do so. She’ll start to pout and cry like a little girl: it’s creepy. I’ve tried various techniques in this situation and have found that “tough-talk” or locking horns with her makes her worse. The best technique seems to be totally ignoring her protests and trying to get her to laugh or converse about something totally unrelated to “why she needs to get up”. This seems to wake her up and get her into a state in which she’s more compliant. But it’s challenging for me–especially when I’m trying to get to work on time. But these experiments have made me wonder if there might be a “Horse Whisperer” sort of technique for dealing with stubborn elderly parents (“Elderly Parent Whisperer”?). Are you familiar with any book or study that approaches the problem from that angle?

  109. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Amy!

    I really like your idea of placing positive photos and memorabilia around the house — it’s a great tip for toxic relatives. You don’t need to talk to spread positive energy :-)

  110. Amy Yvonne Thompson

    This is good advice. Do not wilt under criticism, listen to your convictions and act on them. When someone is negative about everything it is because they choose that way of life. There is no reason under the sun for anyone to just do it for attention for if we continue to aid that type of mantality we are not doing them justice for we know better than to behave that way. Just like a class clown and everyone laughing at what they do, it just encourages it. I found that by telling someone if we are going to be friends I won’t stand for a negative attitude, and that is a boundary and a rule that you give them. If they continuously give you negativity then you have a reason to stop being around them. As far as children go, I found that placing positive statement photos and memorabilia around the home helps. That gives them a choice and usually children are very much aware of the positive energy and like it more.

  111. Mother has always been selfish and getting worse as she is older. She is extremely rude and a real jerk to my father ( I would have divorced her long ago and told him so). She has a bad attitude and when she on the outs with one person or another in the family its never anything she said or did.Our family has been dealing with this for almost 50 years and Im now at the end of my rope and beyond.Dad is out of comision and cant drive for a few more weeks, I was able to take some time off earlier on in the week but back to work and other things that have come up. I have 6 other sibelings whom have been there weekly to take shopping and ect. She flipped last week in a store saying that I havent been there in a month even though I call 2=3 times a week…she never mentioned she needed to get some errands done,when I said how come she did not call and ask me. I will make the time she said Im not kissing your a%% or anyone elses. She screamed at me like I was nothing. I havent spoken to her but have talked to dad. If he was not around I honestly would never want to talk to her again. She brings everyone in the family down and she is so dam negative about everything. She cant find good in anything and believe me it wears you down…..this just knocked the wind right from out of my sail..Im done ..I could write a book and you could not image the crap she has put us threw..
    Well, now that said I feel a little better to cont my day.Thanks

    1. My God Anne, you are me. Except I have siblings: one lives 2.5 hours away, one in the same hometown and I live 30 minutes away but I see my mother more than either of them do! Yet, she had the nerve to say to me last week that I don’t see her enough or do enough. I simply could not believe it. And after years of taking physical, emotional and mental abuse from her, more so than she gave to any of the other kids, I went out of my way to do my best for her (and continue to try to win her over, as we all try to do) and she still put me down. Like you, it knocked the wind out of me. And if I criticize her or bring up anything I’m unhappy about from my childhood, she shuts me down, stops talking to me and never says she’s sorry or take responsibility. I’ve even taken her to counseling and she walked out of the office when the psychiatrist starting addressing the issues I had with her. She is never wrong! Unfortunately, while my dad is not as bad, he has had his hateful moments, one time telling me he always knew I would turn out to be no good, but he is so passive otherwise, that he either takes her side or says nothing. Both parents are extremely negative and critical. And I’m at the point that you are, where I will no longer associate with them. When I find out they are sick and they need help, I will help them, otherwise I’m done. Feel free to email me if you ever want to exchange stories.

  112. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Conversation Arts,

    Thank you for bringing up the topic of forgiveness….and I, too, find the thought that our relatives are doing the best they can very soothing! Giving people the benefit of the doubt can reduce our negative feelings.


  113. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Becky,

    Thanks for your comments — it sounds like you have a lot of insight into your brother! I think the more insight we have into toxic people, the easier it is to deal with them.

    But, insight doesn’t take away the pain of family problems.


  114. Forgiveness doesn’t mean pretend what happened is ok. Forgiveness is also not the same thing as reconciliation. The point of forgiveness is to take the power out of how the situation affects you.

    It’s dangerous to think that toxic people are helpless victims. They do what they do because they are getting something out of it. With my brother, it’s a power and a control thing. It’s also about value. My brother values winning more than he does other people. If his behavior wasn’t feeding his need to win, he’d be doing something else.

  115. Conversation Arts

    I’ve had some problems in the past with family. I find that for myself I do my best to forgive people for their behaviour but that doesn’t mean that I need to do be all loving all the time. And I remind myself that no relative purposely tries to be toxic, they are doing the best they can at that very moment. For me I find that very soothing.

    But the one thing I have learned is to definitely let go and not blame myself for any of their behaviour or to try to change them. It’s best to change myself and my reactions, and that’s all I can do.