Toxic Family Members

Most of us know how to avoid toxic people, but what about toxic family members? How do we avoid the people that we have to be around? First, we need to look at and identify their behaviors.

Behaviors of Toxic Family Members.

  • They want Control. They expect you to make the decision(s) that they want you to make, not your own. They put you down or belittle you if you don’t. 
  • They Micromanage everything in your lives. They need to have a say and control over every aspect of your life.
  • They make Threats. They may tell you things will be taken away or refused unless you do things a certain way. Their way. Your views and feelings are not taken into account, only theirs.
  • They constantly Criticize. They criticize your life, your views, your friends, opinions, religious beliefs, dress code, and career choices.
  • They Gaslight. They turn things they have said around, to make you feel like you are the problem and you have misunderstood/ confused things.
  • They Blame. It is always you. You are the reason something isn’t good; you are the problem and you are causing the toxic family member to feel bad.
  • They Dismiss your feelings. You are not given a voice, a choice or a second thought.
  • They Neglect. They do not take care of a minor if unwell; They do not provide proper food and emotional support. They do not take any interest in you.
  • They abuse you Emotionally . They use the silent treatment, laughing/making fun of an individual, verbal abuse, and mind games.
  • They Lie. They tell lies to cover up things said and done, or to manipulate you. https://natashaadamo.com/toxic-family-members/

Feelings That They Make Us Feel.

I’m not good enough.

I’m a failure.

I messed up again.

They aren’t proud of me.

I need to do better.

I need to be better.

I’m not important.

They May Not Know.

There are times when the family member does not know that they are being toxic. In their own way they are trying to help you. If it’s a parent, sometimes they want you to do as they want you to do because they don’t want you making the same mistake(s) that they made. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/heres-how-to-deal-with-toxic-family-members

I was an adult with children of my own before I realized that a family member in my life was toxic. I never felt like what I did was good enough. I always felt that I fell short. I didn’t feel like they were proud of me, because every time I accomplished something, I was told “it’s about time” or “I thought you already had done that.” Every time I tried to share something good, I ended up feeling awful.

Once I realized it, I focused on why. Why did this person always do this to me? Why did I allow it to happen? I believe that it came down to their own insecurities, jealousy, and up bringing. Realizing the why, helped me to navigate. I also had a talk with them about how I felt and what they did to me. They didn’t even realize what they were doing.

Now I am selective about what I tell this person. I have made boundaries that I keep in place. I also understand that often times what they say is more directed at themselves than at me. I try to use reflective listening with them, and let them know that I understand where they are coming from, but I have to do things my way.