You’ve seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel Alone in Their Marriages keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show, Braxton Family Values. Now it’s your turn to sit in her chair…

Hi Dr. Sherry

I have a question about what I should and should not accept from family members. I’m from a large close-knit family with lots of women. Some of them have viciously fought each other, slept with each other’s men, cursed each other out, and the list could go on and on. Except for me. 

Recently I was in a verbal argument with a family member I was close to. The way in which she spoke to me was unacceptable, considering all the things I’ve done for her and her family but her words and tone were unacceptable whether I’d done anything for her or not. I decided at that moment that I no longer wanted to have a relationship with her. Especially because she has always had a very nasty attitude, has been extremely argumentative and is annoyingly sarcastic and condescending most of the time. 

My family thinks that I should just let it go and accept that this is how she is, for the sake of the upcoming holidays but I don’t think so. She hasn’t reached out to me (nor I to her) and I’m okay with that. But I refuse to accept someone’s ill treatment of me simply because that’s their personality. My family never resolves things. They just gloss over them and they think that I should do the same. If I knew we could resolve this like two mature adults, I’d be willing to do so but she never acknowledges when she’s wrong and she absolutely never apologizes for anything, either.

Am I wrong? If so, how should I handle this?

Hi sis,

Behaviors that you should or should not accept from family members is all up to you. If family members choose to be disrespectful, rude, and inappropriate to one another, that is their choice. It is your choice of how you respond. You can choose to entertain and engage in their dysfunctional behaviors or you can walk away. Large tight knit families have their advantages and disadvantages. Some family members do believe that you have to ignore and accept inappropriate behaviors for the sake of family. If you accept that belief system, you are stuck with everything that comes with it. But why should you accept it if you are not a part of the drama. You can love a person from a distance. Your actions speak louder than words. If you are bound to see this family member during the holidays, speak and keep it moving.  There is no need to rehash your difficulties. Holidays can be a stressful time for many people. Reduce your stress by having a plan in place before family gatherings. That plan may include leaving the event when and if drama starts. Remember, the choice is yours as to how you respond to others. Enjoy your holidays without allowing others to take your joy! –Dr. Sherry

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