31 answers

Need Advice on a Family Member That Keeps Causing Problems

Hi I was wondering if anyone out there has advice on how to deal with a family member that keeps "stirring the pot". This family member seem to keep putting her nose in where it doesnt belong and believes no matter what she is always right. I will give a example. She was told information we did not want shared about our child (i know our mistake). Well I am sure as you guessed it, it was shared. We found out by other family members calling us about it. So she was called out on it and said well I thought you should tell everyone by now/I thought they already knew. So she was reminded how she found out and that we were disappointed. Then decided to tell us how we were going to ruin this child's life and bringing old stuff up that had nothing to do with the situation and try to hurt us. She now wants it all to be ok and its not. How can shut her down because she does this to everyone without starting a war and completely ignoring her?

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the advice. We are gonna have to think about at it all , and probably keep doing what we are doing is not give her anything at all to throw back in our face.

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Dannnnnnng!!!!! Are we related? We have one of those too. I think every family does. When we confront this person...they usually cut us off for years at a time & then they do it all over again. Some people never change. You just take them for what they are & keep them at an arms length.

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Wow! Can I ever empathize. I'm going through the exact same thing right now. My situation has been going on for years and over the holidays got so bad that I was in tears for days! So after discussing this with several close family and friends this is what I did. I sat down and wrote her a long letter explaining exactly how I felt in a non threatening, diplomatic but very honest way. I apologized for nothing and I didn't say anything that made the other person feel better about her actions. When I received a letter back from her with an apology, I read it and discarded it. No response necessary. From here on out, I will be civil and warm but I will share very little in regards to my children or private life. "The kids are fine, I'm doing fine, thank you". If she says something to me that I feel is inappropriate or uncomfortable, I will leave, immediately. (I can't go far as these are out of town family members) I can simply take a walk around the neighborhood. I hope you get many good ideas from the other Mama's but I've learned the hard way that this is the only way to keep my sanity and protect my children.

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Hi, H.,

I don't believe you can change this relative. Beside not sharing anything with her you don't want known by the public, I would recommend that when she gives you unsolicited advice, tell her, "Thanks for thinking of us," and then drop the subject. I think that she will eventually get tired of feeling as though she is talking to a wall and will get the message that you are not interested in her advice. I'm a proponent of being honest and open, esp. when someone oversteps her bounds, but this approach might be more effective than telling her to mind her own business.

L. E

More Answers

*adding this: Sometimes, you just have to tell the person point blank: "Do you realize you cause so much misery to EVERYONE? Do you LIKE being this way? Do you LIKE being the person that everyone calls a trouble-maker? Do you like that people avoid you because of your personality and mean ways? Do you LIKE knowing that you are HARMING other people and their happiness?" Sometimes, a person has to hear this. Then after telling them... stop. Don't get into a 'discussion' about it or argue about it. Just stop, walk away, then let them deal with it and look at themselves.
*In my situation...no matter what I did to remove myself from the situation & no matter what I did to 'censor' myself, it continued. ie: because my sister, would then create trouble for me by using other people...manipulation at it's highest! So sometimes, you cannot just handle a person by ignoring them or giving them generic exchanges.....you really have to get them out of your life, even if its family. It was either my sanity or nothing. Some people do NOT leave you alone no matter what you do. THIS is what I learned. Fortunately, my sis got counseling/therapy for herself. As she even had this problem with everyone in the world. Fortunately, she is much better now.

Does this person have a family/husband/children/friends of her own?
If not, she could just be resentful, jealous, and trying to 'control' others because she is so out of whack.

Never mind her. BUT... you have to protect your own well being, your children and your Hubby.

My sister, when younger, used to be this way. She caused so much grief to everyone, my parents, me, my Hubby, and our children. She acted as though she was the authority on everything, and yes, did not keep personal things private. She trampled on everyone's boundaries.

My friend, also 'had' a Mother-in-law like this. She caused GREAT misery for everyone, including her own Husband.

The point is... you cannot 'control' her. You cannot 'change' her. You cannot make any sense to her, because they themselves will not 'respect' anything or anyone. All they do is create drama and trouble for everyone.

In my case with my sister... well, we cut her out of our lives. At one point. It was that bad. At every drama or trouble she tried to make, we just shut-her out and shut-her down. We just did not respond to her. Eventually, we learned she sought counseling on her own, because SHE was so miserable and unhappy... and FINALLY realized that she had no right, controlling the entire family and making everyone her slave to misery. So now today... we all get along. She has completely changed. But.. I still keep an eagle eye on her and trust my instincts about it.

In the case of my friend.. well they 'disowned' this Mother-in-law. And, the trouble still continues. But, they have nothing to do with her. So she makes trouble to everyone else. She is just so toxic. There was no other way around it for my friend and her husband and children. She was DAMAGING even her children. They are just so much happier now, and their lives are now 'normal' again. They feel they did the right thing. Not according to what anyone else told them to do. It was 'right' for their family and well-being. This in-law is just so so mean.

In your case... well, some people won't change. Some will even back up this person, even though they cause trouble. So, you and Hubby have to decide what is 'healthiest' for you and your children. Or, you let someone like this make you miserable and cause dysfunctional vicious cycles to continue.

I know it's not easy... but it reaches a point where you and your family's well being is at stake. And you have to keep this foremost in your mind. People like this can severely handi-cap other people and their lives. It's just no good.
So, be a hostage to her toxic ways, or not.

You AND your Husband can try and sit her down and talk to her. But, being the way people like this are.....she will turn it into another drama...and digress and rant on about other things, dragging everything into it and the kitchen sink. So, I don't know if it will be successful. But you can try that route. The point being, you AND Hubby have to lay down the rules. Point blank. Telling her her behavior is simply not acceptable, anymore... OR, there will be consequences...such as: she has to see a counselor, you & your family will not be a part of her life.... she will not be allowed in your door, do not call you, if she wants to be a part of your lives then she has to comply with your 'rules' etc. But, she has to also recognize that she has a problem and causes heartache and trouble to everyone.

All the best,
Susan

3 moms found this helpful

Susan shared experience that is very valuable!!

I too, and I think everyone, has one of those friends, relatives or whomever that thinks they know everything about everything.

For me, my friend issues got so deep that I had to sit her down and lay it out on the table. I can't deal with this, I don't have the time or the energy to keep reminding you how your actions effect the rest of the world around you...she was shocked and angry, and needles to say we aren't friends anymore.

The final straw for me was when she told ALL our friends I was preggers before the dinner where I had planned to share the news...she wanted to get people on her bandwagon of being against my doing it on my own and not being married. At any rate, it killed me that she couldn't just be an adult and accept me for who I am and the choices I was making for me.

So, my advice to you is do what is best for the health of your family and YOU. Don't worry about someone else's unhealthy lifestyle and if you have to just cut them off. It's sad and awful, but my life is no worse for wear without my friend.

Good Luck!

3 moms found this helpful

I would completely shut her out. This is not as difficult as it sounds - even with frequent family reunions... just be polite (hello and goodbye) and brief. Talk about the weather. Be terse. That's it. Since she can't handle herself, you have to protect yourself. There is no need for drama, no need for giant, ugly show downs.

1 mom found this helpful

Love SH's advice on this.
Am currently going through something similar with my mom. And even though it was hard to shut her out of my life, HOLY COW! is life so much more pleasant! One thing I would encourage you to think about is leaving the door open, not for her to hurt you/your family again, but what would signal you that she has changed? I prayed a lot about it and wrote my mom explaining what needed to change for her to be allowed back in our lives INCLUDING the one thing that would let me know that she "got it" and would make an effort not to repeat her past behaviors. She hasn't done it, and may never do it, but her being involved in our life is now up to HER. I know I tout these books a lot on here but they really helped me: "How to forgive when you don't feel like it" and "Boundaries" Kind of gives you a blueprint of how to deal with toxic folks. Hope this helps.
:-)
Jen

1 mom found this helpful

Dannnnnnng!!!!! Are we related? We have one of those too. I think every family does. When we confront this person...they usually cut us off for years at a time & then they do it all over again. Some people never change. You just take them for what they are & keep them at an arms length.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow! Can I ever empathize. I'm going through the exact same thing right now. My situation has been going on for years and over the holidays got so bad that I was in tears for days! So after discussing this with several close family and friends this is what I did. I sat down and wrote her a long letter explaining exactly how I felt in a non threatening, diplomatic but very honest way. I apologized for nothing and I didn't say anything that made the other person feel better about her actions. When I received a letter back from her with an apology, I read it and discarded it. No response necessary. From here on out, I will be civil and warm but I will share very little in regards to my children or private life. "The kids are fine, I'm doing fine, thank you". If she says something to me that I feel is inappropriate or uncomfortable, I will leave, immediately. (I can't go far as these are out of town family members) I can simply take a walk around the neighborhood. I hope you get many good ideas from the other Mama's but I've learned the hard way that this is the only way to keep my sanity and protect my children.

1 mom found this helpful

Dido to SH. You can't change these kinds of people. My M-I-L is like this. We have told her but she is still right, all that does is make her tell more stories about how horrible you are. Just talk to her about simple things, infact let her be the one to talk, I don't care if you listen or not. Just do the uhuh's and yeses. But she doesn't get to know anything about your family except basics (she is fine, she has a cold, he is doing well at school, he is going to camp etc). No personal details. Then don't go out of your way to visit her, and don't sit with her for long periods, get up and use the bathroom or say excuse me I need to ask so & so something. Or I want to get something to eat, (Get lost for awhile hide in a bedroom, call a friend. But the less you talk to her the better. If she asks about personal things give the simple answer and change the subject ( that turned out well for us, did you hear that next year in school they are going on a camp-out field trip, we are so excited for her to go). If she gives you advise simply say I just might do that, or that's a great idea. Leave everything vag. Then do what you want, if she ever asks why you did it your way, you simply say we thought about lots of options and decided this worked best for all of us. Then ask her about her life to change the subject. (Hows your job, or how is your back pain have you found any relief). Always focus subjects on them, then they are giving their oppionion on themselfs, plus they think you care about them cus you are concerned and asked. So you can't possible be a paid person.

I don't know the ages of your children or if you have any, but they need to know this also, so that they don't slip up and tell her something she can run with. They don't need to know everything, so keep your explaination simple. Simply tell them that if they have a conversation with this person to keep their answers simple and don't give this person any info that she might be able to spread around. The kids will watch you and pick up from their, how to deal or answer her.

Good Luck! It's sad that we have to come to this to keep peace, but peace is better then war. You will be the bigger & better person or persons for this. J.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi H.,

I am a family life coach and I work with this type of situation all the time. My advice would be to accept that you are and always will be 'related' to this person. However, creating a relationship with this person does not work for you. Shutting her down, unfortunately, is not an option. And ignoring her will only 'stir the pot more', you're right about that.

Here's the deal: She is who she is and trying to change her will only increase your frustrations. So, like I said, "be related" - that looks like, you being civil, having small talk with her at family occasions, for example, "hello, goodbye, nice party, nice day, nice weather, etc." When she asks you how you are doing, reply with "great, wonderful, kids are great, husband is great, job is great, house is great, etc." Refrain from giving her additional information or personal information, not out of fear of what she will do with the information, but out of empowerment of yourself as a wife and mother and what you stand for in relationships. Don't worry about what she thinks of you, quite frankly, what she thinks of you is none of your business and the more you invest yourself in trying to get her to think differently, the more frustrating the situation becomes for everyone. Simply be related, but don't create a relationship. In other words, don't make plans with her, don't sound interested in her life, don't pretend that you care when you don't, be present with her and ask her how she is doing, listen, but leave it at that. Don't offer a helping hand, don't offer advice and especially DO NOT GOSSIP with her or about her. Gossiping will only make the situation bigger. The idea is to lessen the power of her behavior, especially the control it has over how you feel.

With love, power, and magic,
K.
www.kristinecastro.com

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