We all know that one group in our family who feel they are entitled to judge, condemn, and scold you for whatever you do, right from the choice of your clothes to your existence. However, the gossip and sardonic comments don’t matter as much as the moment they start snatching the reins of your life right from your hands.
Being a certain way entails all sorts of toxicity from such difficult family members that are hard to deal with. In such circumstances, it’s difficult to decide what to do because you know they are your family, maybe even close like your father or mother. However, every person is rightly entitled to live their own life, on their own terms. If someone’s snatching that away from you, you have every right to set a healthy boundary to protect yourself.
Here are the five best ways to set healthy boundaries with difficult family members.
1. Walk away:
If ever you find yourself in a situation where your dignity and esteem are jeopardized, don’t be afraid to walk away. The one who has done the crime will certainly call you rude or maybe even a sardonic, ‘kids these days’, but that won’t matter as long as you are protecting your honor. No one has the right to judge or comment on whatever you do as long as it’s a kind of advice where the decision ultimately rests in your hand. No matter how close you are to that family member, the next time they make fun of you or call you names that hurt you, walk away with your chin high.
2. Stop parentification:
Mothers and fathers are also a part of a family. So, it becomes even more difficult to deal with them when they don’t take responsibility, when they give false expectations to you, when they lie inebriated all the time, when they fight like cats and dogs, in short, when they behave like children.
As a child, your unconscious reflex is to make everything right, which in some cases, is impossible. So, you try to be the Gepetto of your parents’ relationship and try to strengthen their bond, by acting as a mediator when they fight and consoling them when one of them is crying. This is called parentification, where the roles of children and parents are reversed. It’s okay to be the wise one when your parents fight, but at the end of the day, you are still a child. To muster the responsibility of a parent at such a tender age is toxic. It strips you of the innocence and essence of childhood, which you don’t want to miss.
More often than not, the ideas of selfless nature and virtue are idealized in human society. But nobody mentions at what cost. What is the yardstick of the appropriate amount of selfless one should be? Being selfless and empathetic is indeed extremely important for a healthy civilization. But when it comes at a cost of your needs and mental peace, not that much. It might sound harsh when you read it, but if you think about it, it is bitter because it is true.
No matter how important the family gathering is, no matter how close you are to the couple getting married and no matter how much your aunt gifted you on your birthday if she is mean to you, you. don’t. go. Prioritize your needs, your mental health, and your self-esteem before societal conventions. Remember, it is always easy to be mean and gossipy like difficult family members in order to secure yourself, but it takes courage to put yourself first before them.
4. Speak up:
If your aunt decides what college you’ll go to without respecting your decision, you speak up. If your father makes false promises about your life together as a family without making any concrete plan, you speak up. If your relatives (no matter how occasionally you meet them) disrespect your choices, you speak up. It might come at a cost of them labeling you rude or a rebel, but that’s better than being a punching bag for their hidden insecurities and fears that they so freely project onto the world. Just because they can doesn’t mean they should. Just because you can tolerate doesn’t mean you should.
5. Ask for support:
In the end, some battles with your family members leave you too exhausted to fight the ones which are worth fighting for. When you find yourself drained from all the toxicity that the difficult family members project, don’t abstain from asking for support. It could be your sibling, your mother, your friend, or even a therapist. Journaling events and meditating can also help you restore your mental strength.
These are some of the five effective ways that you can set healthy boundaries with toxic family members. Remember, mean comes from weakness. Fighting back and allowing your anger to take the best of you will only make you like them and you don’t want to be like them. Be assertive with a kind heart.