When Your Family is Toxic

These 5 Abusive Signs Toxic Family Members Display In Case You Weren’t Sure

I understand the pull your family ties have on you. I mean, everywhere you look in society, you are told how important your connection is to your family. Ever heard the expression “Blood is thicker than water”? Family first has been a “thing” since the beginning of time.

But you are likely to draw blank stares if you ask how you should handle toxic family members who are damaging to your emotional and mental health. No one really thinks about that. And, honestly, people just don’t want to talk about that ugly issue.

But I do because I want adults who have been harmed by toxic parents and relatives to heal, and I want to prevent more children from suffering from childhood trauma by educating their parents, present or future.

Nothing is more important than your peace of mind. So you should allow no one, not even family, to disrupt that peace. Cut that toxicity out of your life. But before you start snipping, make sure you are cutting out the right people. If you see any of the following five signs of a toxic relative, snip away.

You Know They’re A Toxic Person If…

  1. They Judge and Sentence.

This person has criticism of everyone and everything. They often offer their unsolicited opinion of other people’s issues. There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism and feedback. It’s a healthy exchange. But with a toxic person, their words hit hard and can affect your self-esteem and mindset.

This family member doesn’t just offer unsolicited criticism. But she also describes how she would have handled the situation and why the person experiencing the issue is stupid. She is not kind with her words. And she lacks compassion or the ability to be quiet when her opinion is not needed or wanted.

  1. They Love Drama.

Do you have a family member who turns the most minor incidents into long, drawn out battles? That person is constantly instigating, causing trouble with other family members and strangers. This person will share private information with other family members about your personal life, even though you asked him to keep it to himself.

This person like to see chaos and misery around him. And he doesn’t mind exaggerating the truth or turning on you to get drama started. This person will act like they are innocent and did nothing to start the drama that seems to always surround him. But he lit the match and threw gasoline on it.

  1. They Gaslight.

Have you ever had a conversation with a family member who says something, but later denies having done so? You know what you and others heard. But that person denies involvement to the extent that you question your memory and sanity. He will accuse you of lying and may try to turn other family members against you.

That person is gaslighting and playing mind games with you. Gaslighting is a very manipulative and emotionally abusive gesture. It’s actually a control mechanism that can really destroy your sense of self-worth. And on its own is grounds for cutting off a family member.

  1. They Only Come Around When They Want Something.

This person depends heavily on you. She is always looking for your financial and emotional support. She drops her problems in your lap and expects you to solve them. She seeks your advice and won’t take no for an answer.

But you never get back what you put into this person. She is never there for you. When you try to reach out to her, she never has time and never makes time. Your relationship is one-sided. If ever you say no to this person, she may turn on you and try to change the way others view you.

  1. They Send Mixed Signals.

The person has moments when he can be very aggressive. He may curse you out, yell, and scream. But in the next moment, he is calm after you ignore his outrageous behavior. He’ll be nice and say sweet things he thinks you want to hear to draw you back in with his charm.

But the kindness quickly ends, and he is right back to his toxic self. This person manipulates your emotions to get their way. You never know how a conversation with him will end, so you may become very anxious around him. You may feel like you are walking on eggshells with this person.

Anyone in your family showing any of these five signs is a risk to your peace of mind and emotional and mental health. You should not continue to engage with people who treat you this way because it will only hurt you. The toxic person is already hurt and looking for company. As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” You have to set boundaries and disconnect from this family member.

Realistic Steps You Can Take to Deal with Toxic Family Members

I know how difficult it is to have this conversation and goes against everything you have been taught in society about the importance of family. That information about family is not incorrect. It just doesn’t provide guidance when your family members are toxic and unhealthy.

The assumption is that all families are strong and supportive when they are not. And as you know, looks are often deceiving. Just because it looks like a family doesn’t mean it is in action. So how can you deal with toxic family members?

Keep Your Distance

Stay away from family members who drain you and make you feel bad. It’s possible to love your family members from a distance. Sometimes you just can’t be together until they heal and want to engage with you on respectful and loving terms.

Set Boundaries

The truth is that people will only treat you how you allow yourself to be treated. As the saying goes, “What you permit, you promote.” When you establish boundaries with toxic family members, you will show them how you expect to be treated. Either they will comply or not.

You must be prepared to follow up when they don’t respect your rules. You cannot negotiate this. It is do or die. Your mental, emotional, and physical health are depending on it.

Cut Ties

Sometimes, you have to separate from toxic family members. It is not something you want to do, and it’s not ideal. But if cutting off toxic family members brings you peace of mind, you have to do it. You’re responsible for your happiness. No one else is.

Cut those toxic family members out of your life, and don’t feel bad. You can forgive them and not engage with them. If they change their ways and want to return to your life, you decide if you want that.

Please know you will feel guilt, and you may even have other family members try to shame you into reestablishing a relationship with a toxic relative. But you have to stand your ground. Use the same strength you exercised to choose yourself over toxicity and stand firm.

You may influence others in your family to do the same. And when that happens, you can influence the next generation’s behavior around family and parenting. You are the pioneer who had to go through uncharted territory. But you paved the way that established positivity and healthy boundaries for your family. The generations that come after you send their deepest gratitude. Good job!

To learn more about breaking toxic family behavior, pick up a copy of my book Choosing to Stop the Madness: Overcoming Toxic Family Patterns. I describe how I ended cycles of abuse and unhealthy parenting in my adult life. I can show you how to do the same in yours.

I believe in using words to heal and absorb our pain. My journal Stop the Madness: Overcome Toxic Family Patterns Journal will help you reflect on your past and plan for your future. Pick up a copy today.

If you feel you need the help of a therapist to help you stop being toxic or support you in dealing with toxic relatives, reach out to Online-Therapy.com for support. Check out my review of their service and a video about online therapy.

Please share this article with those who can benefit from it. There are millions of people living with toxic relatives, and they don’t know what to do.

Check out some of my other blogs, and learn more about me and my mission. Together, we can help heal each other. If you need to reach me, please reach out.

Thank you for spending your time with me. I’m sending you peace, love, and light!


Simon, Daisy. “Why It’s Okay to Cut Toxic Family Members out of Your Life.” Mind Journal, themindsjournal.com/why-its-okay-to-cut-toxic-family-members-out-of- your-life/. Accessed 17 December 2021.

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