When You Have to Let Go of Relatives (Bullies in the Family)

This letter sent in to Dr. Laura is about a family member who is a bully, and not sorry about it at all.  The letter writer describes how one of her brothers that used to bully her as a child, still hasn’t grown up or tried to reconcile with her like her other brother.  She is married, and her husband refuses to put up with their treatment and stands up for her at family gatherings – as a result, they are shunned by their family (even her parents who never addressed the situation in the family in the first place, they’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist).  Watch to see Dr. Laura’s advice to this woman in regards to letting go of her parents and brother, and letting them get the privilege of being together – more than likely, making each other miserable.

We had a situation much like this in our marriage, and have taken a lot of heat for pulling away from the toxic relatives in my husband’s family.  My husband finally stood up to his bullying cousin and his family who backed him, and even had to stand up to his own parents who blamed everything on us (him and I specifically).  Letting go was hard, but staying in toxic family relationships where every holiday had the potential to end in tears and drama was much harder – especially psychologically.  We finally made the decision to not put our children through that every Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter – it was just too hard and painful.

If you’re in a situation like this with a family member who is allowed to be a bully, and when you or your spouse confronts the behavior, you’re both met with defensive relatives backing the bully, you might take comfort in this video urging you to find peace in letting go.

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2 thoughts on “When You Have to Let Go of Relatives (Bullies in the Family)

  1. Sadly with this slow broadband I didn’t watch the vid.
    But with bullying or unreasonable folks quite often the best defense is gentle analysis, repeated as often as necessary or until the villain runs screaming from the room (or starts swinging an axe):

    “Why did you say that?”

    Four words, very powerful. (As they used to say in QC circles, Root-Cause analysis—ask ‘why’ at least five times.)

    Otherwise simple distance is a solution too. No-one has to get between siblings but if a sibling is unreasonable then the best defense is an understated counterattack—followed when necessary by the following conversation—

    “Hey! Why did you treat my lovely brother like that?”
    “Because he’s an unreasonable prick. No?”

    You either get to the root-cause (he really is a prick) or their shutters come down with a bang, in which case you may as well gather up your toys and go home.
    After which several miles of open space at all times works well too—

    “Hey, Cutie! Family dinner next week at Folks’ house!”
    “Will Schnargle be there?”
    “Of course—”
    “Then I won’t. Good night.”

    They get the message.
    You can flex, you can bend, you can even grovel but nothing works as well as simple distance (in all media). As the great Bill Severen once said: “When all else don’t work—flush ’em!”

    No-one needs roll over and be a door mat.

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