When I was a teenager, I used to tell everyone who’d listen that I hate my family. As I grew up, moved out, and started working on my life, I realized that not all those relationships were toxic in the same way. Some of the conflicts I’ve had with the members of my family had resolved themselves over time, while others required a more mindful approach.
I believe that most people can relate to my feelings of frustration, though. With that in mind, I’ve created a guide that explains how to interact with annoying or even destructive family members peacefully. Furthermore, I’ll also explain how you can move past toxic dynamics to heal your relationships with the members of your family who are open to making an effort. But first, let’s take a look at why so many of us hate our families in the first place.
Why Did I Hate My Family for Most of My Life?
Most people who hate their families have a mile-long list of grievances. I’m no different. However, since my anger had faded over the years, I’d tried to step away and look at my feelings rationally. As far as I can tell, there are different levels of resentment we can harbor toward our relatives, depending on the kind of harm they have inflicted upon us.
Most of us recognize that nothing is worse than child abuse. Whether it’s physical, emotional, or a mix of both — as it usually is — it’s undoubtedly a heinous crime.
Being hurt by your parents or siblings can have long-lasting consequences for anyone, especially if they were young when the abuse started happening. Growing up in that kind of toxic environment is undoubtedly an excellent reason to hate your family.
Not Getting Your Needs Met
But your family doesn’t have to beat you or put you down — sometimes, neglect can lead to similar results. Such behavior can range from their forgetting to feed you or pick you up from school to criticizing you and dismissing your feelings.
On the other hand, some parents simply don’t have the emotional maturity to handle their children. They may overreact to minor mistakes, diminish their child’s feelings, or seem to have no sympathy at all.
These things can lead to anger and resentment just as easily as physical and emotional abuse can. And it doesn’t even have to be anyone’s fault. After all, there are plenty of reasons your parents, siblings, or cousins might have behaved that way.
Blaming Them for Things They Can’t Control
In my opinion, one of the most immature reasons to hate one’s family is because we blame them for things that are out of their control. By this, I mean children who scream that they hate their moms because they can’t afford to buy them the newest games or gadgets.
That kind of “hatred” is usually less intense and, more importantly, passing. Having been a child myself, I can’t claim that I’ve never had these kinds of outbursts. That’s part of the reason I make it a point not to go around complaining that I hate my family. Instead, I try to be more empathetic, especially when it comes to things my close ones can’t control.
If you’re currently in a similar situation, all I can say is that it’ll pass. In the meantime, you should consider whether cultivating that kind of resentment is worth your time. If you’re particularly prone to aggressive flare-ups, you may be experiencing some kind of mental health problem. If that’s the case, I would see a counselor or a therapist as soon as possible.
How I Prepare for Spending Time With Relatives I Dislike
At this point, I’ve spent years of my life dreading holidays and other events that would bring the whole family together. My cousins and their parents were boring at best and downright mean at worst. My siblings were just as annoying as ever, but our parents always seemed to develop new personalities right before the first auntie would show up. In my family, the holiday season always brought out the worst in us all.
Even though I can’t say that I hate my family anymore, I still have to give myself a while to prepare for any group events. There are several coping mechanisms I like to turn to during weddings and holidays:
- First, I let myself imagine the worst-case scenario. What will I do or say when my family starts politicking at the table? Will I be able to excuse myself, or will I have to engage?
- I try to avoid drinking at family gatherings. That allows me to be more clear-headed if I end up having to book it out of there.
- I use different breathing exercises to center myself before I say something I’ll regret.
- I bring some distractions, like mobile games. Moreover, I like to periodically let my group chat know how poorly the family reunion is going.
- Lastly, I always schedule something right after the family meal. That’s an excellent way to have a built-in excuse to escape a family reunion before people become too hurtful. Just say you have plans and get out, even if all you have waiting for you is a shower and a face mask.
Even if you’re still living with your family, and, therefore, can’t escape so smoothly, you can distance yourself. Simply invent a reason to go to the store or excuse yourself to visit the bathroom.
How to Heal Toxic Family Dynamics When I Hate My Family
As I have mentioned before, I probably wouldn’t say that I hate my family today. Those feelings have mostly dissipated over time. Still, there are some people I had to distance myself from in the interest of preserving my sanity.
Of course, there are other ways to handle the residual resentment you may feel toward your siblings, parents, or relatives. To begin with, you should try talking to them. Before you do, though, you ought to sit down and think of your relationships with each of your family members carefully.
1. Look Within
If you’re trying to heal your relationships, you should first consider your role in them. I wish the world were simple enough for us all to know who the bad guy was in any relationship. But the truth is, the negativity could be coming from more than one direction at the same time. If the lines have gotten too blurry even for your taste, I suggest that you see a therapist.
A mental health professional would help you contextualize your experience and assess your behavior in your relationships with your family members. That would also enable you to be more empathetic toward the people who might have wronged you.
On the other hand, if you can’t access therapy, you could try to get to the bottom of the issue on your own. There are plenty of journaling prompts that might help you work through toxic relationships available online. Maybe writing about your experiences will help you put a name to what you’re feeling.
2. Enforce Boundaries
Boundaries are a fantastic way to protect yourself from a lot of the harmful dynamics we may experience while still living with our families. In fact, that kind of behavior often continues even after you move out. That’s why building boundaries is so vital.
But how can you do that? Simply put, if your relative behaves in a way that directly and negatively impacts you, you can make them stop by following these three steps:
- State your boundary. For example, you could simply say, “Please don’t yell at me.”
- State the consequence of breaking that boundary. You can do that by saying, “If you keep yelling at me, I will walk out of the room.” If you can’t walk out, though, replace that with any other consequence you can think of.
- Follow through. Once you state the consequence, you’ll have to carry it out if the person crosses your boundary again. That makes it clear that you won’t tolerate that behavior anymore.
You can do all of that in a direct and calm manner and in a way that wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. However, you should also expect that some people — especially those who are used to getting their way — may not like it when you stand up for yourself. But that’s not your problem. You just have to protect your space and your sanity.
3. Communicate Your Feelings
As I came into my own, I realized that saying that I hate my family simply wouldn’t cut it. It’s hardly a constructive statement. So once you work out what you’re really feeling, you should share your findings with your family.
Whatever you do, don’t approach the encounter in a condemnatory manner. Instead, aim for a conversational tone. If your family loves you, they’ll be open to discussing your thoughts and changing their behavior if necessary.
On the other hand, if you can’t bring yourself to have a meaningful conversation with your family, you could write them a letter. Once again, you’ll want to relay the problems you have found in your relationship clearly and avoid chucking accusations. It would also be helpful if your letter contained potential solutions for the conflicts you have singled out.
4. Give It Time
After you unburden yourself, you should probably give your family some time to process the information. And don’t expect them to react positively right off the bat.
Hopefully, they’ll see where you’re coming from. But if they insist on continuing hurtful behavior, you have to be ready to distance yourself or cut them off. If you’re young, take comfort in the fact that you won’t have to live with toxic family members forever.
How I Got Over Hating My Family
Ultimately, some of our family members simply don’t deserve our love, and that’s okay. You shouldn’t push yourself to have a relationship with people who don’t value you. However, you also shouldn’t waste time actively hating them.
I can no longer say that I hate my family with the same kind of conviction I had as a teenager. The truth is, not all of my relatives are equally bad. So I’m happy I made an effort to clear up any misunderstandings we might have had. Hopefully, you’ll get to see the benefits of doing the same thing.