I think we’re confused about this. I hear about individuals who dread family holidays and who’ve moved across the country to be far away from those to whom they are related. Yet, often when talking to clients who tell me of frustrating or horrific behavior on the part of family members, when I ask why they continue having any interaction with this person, I get the same response. In a shocked tone, people say, “But she’s my mother!” or “But he’s my brother!”
It’s as if the fact of having been born into a family group–the connection of DNA and shared history–excuses whatever people have to deal with.
I’m not just talking about the angry words exchanged–although these are hurtful–but actions like stealing and assault. I’ve heard everything from family members believing they should always be welcome to thrust their hands out in expectations of financial gain to relations who actually threaten to harm the individuals to whom they have biological connection.
Once again, I’m in the minority here. I don’t think that sharing DNA gives anyone the right to treat you like dirt. I believe we need to hang with those who value and respect us, whether they gave birth to you or not.
Jokes are often focused on individuals disliking and having conflict with “the in-laws,” but this isn’t a laughing matter for many. Nothing excuses bad behavior towards or from the people we claim to love. Having tolerance and respect is important, but it’s not appropriate when the actions and words you tolerate are unchanged and unrelenting.
It may be time to ask yourself why.
If bad, critical, demeaning or insulting actions are directed toward you, it’s time to confront the issue. I’m all for giving individuals the chance to see the consequence of their behavior. By all means, tell them how their actions affect you. Tell them what you want to experience. Ask for simple tolerance in the matter of disagreements. You don’t have to vote for the same parties or share the same lifestyle. Families still need to be required to behave as if they love you…if they love you.