Do You Fire Your Family?

You left the nest decades ago, but your meddling family, still insists on playing a heavy-handed role in your life. When their unwelcome advice becomes too heady for you to handle or their behavior is detrimental to your life or relationships, you may be faced with the challenge of firing your family!

Whether it’s a temporary state you enact to show them who’s boss, or you’re terminating the toxic relationship for good (after giving them way too many chances to “grow up”), here are some things to consider. Do they deserve to be fired, or is their behavior normal in the grand scheme of familial relationships? Only you can tell for certain and the information below will help.

Do you expect too much?
How many times have we told ourselves that this time will be different? Despite all case histories to the contrary, do you continue to reach out to your family hoping that in this one instance they will react differently? The fact is, it’s highly probable that your relatives will respond and react in a similar manner to how they have dealt with you since your youth, because truth be told, the old birds aren’t changing this late in life.

It’s possible, with each passing year, that they will get more intolerant or even crabby because they, just like you, have been down this road before. It’s important, when seeking advice from a family member, to reflect on the history of their behavior and assume that this time won’t be different, so go seeking council with your eyes wide open instead of shut.

Enough is enough
When determining whether your family or a member of it, deserves to be kicked out of your life, ask yourself if they are harmful to your well being. When you are at your lowest low – do they help or hinder your cause? When you’re on the ledge, do they threaten to push you off? Do they often ask inappropriate questions about your finances, sexual proclivities, dating, hygiene, religious patterns, routes to work, or do they just whine when you don’t come home to visit them more often? Depending on the magnitude of their infringements, you need to gage if the event, or subtotal of them warrants the delivery of a wake up call to your dearly beloveds. Next, ascertain if the behavior is an isolated incident, or a lifelong pattern.

Now, analyze your relationship as a whole. Is it a toxic one? Does a family interaction start a downward spiral that you simply cannot pull yourself out of? Do they attack you and those around you to severe or detrimental levels? Do their actions harm you mentally or physically? In these more extreme cases, a firing may be the only answer to restore peace and harmony in your life.

Give notice
Like any work-related dismissal, it’s never advisable to fire someone out of the blue. You need to first monitor their behavior and then open up a dialogue when an undesirable incident occurs. It’s not a bad idea to keep a log or journal. This is for your own records, and is in no way meant to be used as ammunition when you find yourself in the throes of an argument. It’s a simple list, that when it grows too long, you may be just cause to put your family on notice.

Work it out
The solution to your familial discourse, to some degree, lies within your own control. You certainly can’t control how they act, but how you respond to their actions. Setting boundaries is the first step in forging a healthy relationship, and it’s a crucial one in stopping an unhealthy behavioral pattern. It’s also essential that you give your relatives an opportunity to correct their conduct. In doing so, you offer an alternative route that could change the dynamic.

Set boundaries
Be clear when communicating your limits. Let the offenders know if they cross certain no-go zones that they will be fired. This puts the onus back on them. For example: “Mom, if you continue to talk down to me on the phone, I will tell you to stop. If you don’t mind my boundary, I will politely dismiss myself from the conversation.” Or, “Dad, I told you not to disparage my partner. If you do that in front of me or them, we will no longer come over for dinner on Sunday nights.”

Communicate your list of hot buttons, that if pressed, will be a breaking point for you and your relationship with your family. By letting them know your limits, and clearly defining the repercussions when lines are crossed, you’re stipulating what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. If the patterns persist, with no signs of improvement, as difficult as it may be, you may find yourself at a place that warrants handing your family a pink slip.

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