It’s an awful feeling when someone doesn’t respect you, be it a friend, a co-worker, or a random person. But what if it’s someone in your family? This is when you need to learn how to deal with family members that disrespect you.
When you have to face a sibling or a relative who shows zero respect, this can affect your emotional wellbeing and even your self-worth. That’s why you shouldn’t tolerate such behavior, as it may get worse with time.
Below are a few tips to help you handle a family member who doesn’t respect you.
How to Deal with Family Members That Disrespect You?
1. Set boundaries right away
Sometimes, a lack of respect starts with seemingly innocent jokes and ambiguous comments. Some people are just bullies who enjoy being mean to others!
But it’s in your power to stop it from the very beginning. When you act like everything is fine, the other person will continue to make derogatory remarks and treat you without respect just because you allow them to.
That’s why you should never tolerate disrespectful behavior, no matter what forms it takes. Don’t hesitate to openly express your discontent and say something like this:
I don’t like such jokes.
I don’t like such questions. I don’t want to talk about it.
Your remark sounds mean, and I don’t appreciate it.
Watch your language!
This is how you set firm boundaries and show your family member that you are not going to tolerate their bad manners.
2. Disarm them with bluntness
Typically, a disrespectful family member doesn’t expect a blunt reply to their mean joke or comment. They assume that you will feel too embarrassed or intimidated to reply, so they will expect you to say nothing or awkwardly change the topic.
That’s when you can disarm them with a provocative question, such as:
What do you imply?
What kind of humor is that?
Who would ask something like this?
Why are you talking this way?
I’m sure that the next time, your family member will think twice before saying something offensive to you. This is how bullies are—they attack only those who can’t fight back. Standing up for yourself even once can tame your family member’s desire to be rude to you.
3. Don’t talk to them
We all know those family gatherings where you have to face nosy aunts and rude cousins who overstep everyone’s boundaries. But you know what? If you are related to someone, it doesn’t mean that you are obliged to talk to them.
Distance yourself from that annoying family member whose presence alone makes you feel uncomfortable. Don’t sit next to them at the table and avoid getting trapped in a conversation with them. If they insist on bombarding you with questions and comments, ignore them or use an excuse to leave early.
No one can force you to interact with a person that disrespects you, even when they are your family. Sometimes distancing yourself from other people is about knowing your worth and protecting your mental wellbeing.
4. Talk it out
The above tips are good for dealing with distant family members that disrespect you. You can use them at dinners and gatherings with relatives you see every now and then. But what if a lack of respect takes place in your immediate family environment?
If the person that disrespects you is a close family, such as a sibling or a parent, it’s best to talk it out with them.
It’s particularly important if there is a sudden change in their behavior. They could be holding grudges against you for something you did, or they might be going through a difficult time. Yes, sometimes rudeness is a cry for help!
Whatever it is, you need to find out the reason. Call your family member out for their behavior, but make sure to approach the situation with kindness. Just say how their words make you feel and ask them why they act this way:
You know, your words were really offensive. Why would you say this at the table?
5. Realize it’s about them, not you
Knowing how to deal with family members that disrespect you starts with understanding the roots of their behavior.
There can be many reasons for a lack of respect. And most often, they have to do with the person themselves, not the objects of their disrespect.
For instance, your rude cousin may be unhappy in her marriage, so she takes it out on everyone. It’s not that she disrespects you personally, she just can’t cope with her negative emotions.
At the same time, this is not to say that you should justify your family member’s rude behavior. It’s good to understand the motives behind it so that you don’t take their insults personally, but you should show zero tolerance to disrespect.
When a family member of yours is always rude to everyone, it’s better to stay away from them. Let them deal with their own darkness. You can’t fix them anyway, especially if it’s recurring behavior.
6. Realize it goes down to expectations
Sometimes, disrespect stems from failed expectations. In other words, when you don’t fit in with someone’s expectations toward life, they may start to have a low opinion of you. In reality, they are just a different person who doesn’t share your views and values in life.
For example, your ‘successful’ brother doesn’t respect you because you chose to be a freelancer, not an office clerk like him. He thinks you are reckless, and he doesn’t approve of your path in life.
Your uncle belittles you at family dinners because he considers you to be a crazy conspiracy theorist. Why? He believes everything that is on the news while you question things.
We inevitably project our views, values, and expectations onto those around us. And when they approach life in a totally different way, we may start to dislike and even disrespect them.
So, how to deal with a family member that disrespects you for this reason? Just realize that they are a different person, and there is no point in trying to change their mind or prove anything. Limit your communication to the essentials and don’t share any personal things with them.
7. Don’t let their behavior affect your self-worth
It can be painful to realize that your family doesn’t value you. But the worst thing you can do when someone disrespects you is to take it personally and feel bad about yourself. Don’t do that. As we said above, the roots of disrespect usually have to do with the person themselves.
So, whatever your family members say, don’t let their words affect your self-worth. Realize that their behavior shows who they are, not who you are.
Be assertive and stand up for yourself. If you find it difficult to verbally defend yourself, then just take your distance from the family member that disrespects you. This is the only solution if you notice that their behavior causes self-doubt and self-criticism in you.
You shouldn’t spend your time with people who make you feel insignificant and worthless. Believe me, your sense of worth is more important than family ties.
8. Cut them out from your life
Finally, the most effective way to deal with family members that disrespect you is to cut them off. If you see that nothing works and the other person continues to be rude to you, they should have no place in your life.
Dealing with family members that disrespect you will only drain your energy and take away your peace of mind. Moreover, if you have insecurities, this can also take a toll on your self-esteem. Life is already complicated enough to waste it on someone else’s nonsense.
Therefore, if you have a family member who repeatedly crosses the line and shows disrespect, then you should think about cutting ties. Don’t feel guilty—you are doing what’s best for you. And sometimes this requires you to distance yourself from people who ruin your emotional balance. Even when they are your family.
Only you know how to deal with family members that disrespect you. Every instance is different, and that’s why the tips above vary a lot. Facing disrespect from your mother requires a different approach than handling a cheeky relative at the Christmas dinner.
But it all boils down to a single truth: never tolerate rude, abusive, and disrespectful behavior, no matter who it comes from. You deserve to be treated with respect.
Featured image by benzoix on Freepik