In a perfect world, your family would be your primary network of support, keeping you calm during stressful times, pulling you out of the darkness and standing by your side when the world turns its back on you.
But the world isn’t perfect, and neither is your family.
Family estrangement is more common than most people think. A survey of college students, graduates, and young professionals in northeastern cities found that at least 17% of them had experienced family estrangement.
There are various reasons for family estrangement, including parents’ interference in their child’s life (and relationships) and the child’s recognition of toxic behavior in the family. Everyone’s parents are perfect when they’re younger, but as a child grows, they begin to realize that their parents are quite flawed.
When families bring out the worst in children, they may decide to distance themselves as they grow older.
If your family tends to bring out the worst in you, here’s what you can do:
Identify the Problematic People
Most people will have at least one person in their family with whom they see eye-to-eye; if it’s not their parent, they can still make an effort to stay connected with those who aren’t completely hostile.
We’re conditioned to look out for family members, even when they’re not always good to us. It helps to maintain some family ties to prevent feeling completely alone.
If there are some people in your family that you can maintain a relationship with, make a genuine effort to be in their lives.
Let Go Of Toxic People
Some people enjoy seeing the ugliness in you and may provoke you just to get a reaction. They’ll go out of their way to prove that you are the “monster” they think you are and bring out the worst in you.
If you have such people in your life, it’s best to distance yourself from them.
If there’s even a sliver of hope that you and your family members can work things out and prevent estrangement, consider seeing a therapist as a group. Family mediators can get all members to speak openly, address unresolved problems, and resolve conflicts.
Azizeh is a family therapist who can help you and your family work through issues that are causing you to drift apart. She also provides family mediation for divorcing couples with kids.
You can schedule an appointment online or call (650) 206-9973 free 20-minute phone consultation.