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Protect Yourself by saying "NO" to Toxic family members

Judie Rappaport
February 27, 2011


"Mom expects me to jump into action the minute she wants something. If I make her wait five minutes, she keeps asking me over and over until I give in."

"On my wedding day, Aunt Faye hugged me, and said, "You're too pale; I knew you'd look better with red roses instead of white ones in your bouquet."

If you're on the receiving end of abuse from toxic family members, and want to stop them, ready on! 


Most of us have a Know it All or Demander in our family. Most of us have told our toxic relatives off many times, usually when they're not around to hear us because we're conditioned to please others.

You can't please toxic people: whether they're devious, controlling, thoughtless, or selfish, they care only for their wants and needs. Most are so self-centered they never stop and consider any feelings other than their own.  

Toxics are dangerous to our self esteem, overall health, and all around quality of life.  It's time to learn how to say "NO."


Demanders: family members who expect you to drop everything and serve their wishes and show a petulant/nasty attitude if you don't provide immediate gratification.

Saying No: If you're busy, say, "I can't help you right now (today), but I'll be happy to help you later (Tuesday). If Mom says, "Tuesday is too late," and you know Tuesday is fine, answer, "Mom, I'm sorry. I love you and I'm doing the best I can. Let's plan for Tuesday."  Don't negotiate; if you can't change the subject, end the conversation.

Know it Alls:  family members who create stress by continually criticizing everything you do, but never actually help you or your parent.

Saying No: Next time, say, "Thank you, Tom. You seem to know a great deal about this. I'm going to turn this over to you right now so Mom can have the best job possible. I'll be back later." This only works if you leave the room without further discussion. Do not look back.

Toxics rarely change because they love making others unhappy. Protect yourself by changing the way you handle their abuse.


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