Do family members frustrate you? Do you even get angry at yourself for letting it get to you? Stop that. Here’s how.
Most people have someone close to them in their family who that they love and really would like to spend time with. We’re not getting any younger, after all.
But what about when that family member totally drives you nuts? What are you supposed to do? Not see them at all?
Here are some examples of family member behavior that drives people batty…
Frustrating family member example #1
“My brother ALWAYS complains about not having enough money. It’s all he talks about with me. He is so stressed out that he curses about it and says he’s ready to scream all of the time. He’s like a broken record, and sometimes I’m worried that he will even go as far as to kill himself just to prove a point about how stressed out he is.
I feel bad for him, but he has a commission-based job for which he shows up at around 10:30 am, takes a 90+ minute lunch, and is out the door to go home by 4:00. Meanwhile, there is plenty of work for him there and the others around him are making twice as much as him because they work harder. It’s not that he is not good at what he does, either. He is extremely smart and his customers love him.
Not only that, but he was making the same amount of money before he got married, had four kids, and moved into a big expensive house. What did he think was going to happen?
I want to tell him that he needs to stop complaining and get to work. That he has a wonderful family and to stop being so negative all of the time.”
Frustrating family member example #2
“My father is aging, I live far away, and my sister lives close to him. I try to be available to help as much as possible but, of course, my sister is more involved with his problems due to her proximity.
He actually is still pretty self-sufficient, and the only things my sister has to deal with are just the little annoying things that come with having elderly people in your family. Things like forgetfulness, talking too loud, grouchiness, and just being downright stubborn.
Annoying, sure, but it’s not the end of the world.
Also, when our mother was alive, he took great care of her as she was sick and not self sufficient in the last few years. He really get’s a “pass” for being so loving and good to her and asking nothing in return, in my opinion.
So when I do visit, all my sister does is complain about him.
It’s not like she is looking for solutions either. It’s only meaningless venting.
I only get to spend a week or two a year with my sister and I would rather catch up on how her kids are doing and reminisce about our childhood (we were very close and have wonderful memories).
I’m a positive and grateful person and it frustrates me to go on and on and on about all of his faults for the entire visit. It seems so pointless.
I want to tell her how I feel, or at least tell her that I would prefer to discuss more positive things.”
Dealing with family members that frustrate you
Do either of these examples sound familiar in some way? So what do you do?
The best way to handle it is…
Suck it up.
First of all do NOT tell them how you feel and do NOT try to get a family member to change their behavior.
- It will not work.
- It will ruin your relationship with them. Possibly forever.
Play it all the way though. First, you will hurt their feelings. Then they will resent you. Finally, you will strongly regret saying anything in the first place.
You will feel guilty and even petty.
Be empathetic to a sibling in a spot like this instead. Do not make suggestions, give options, or add value to the conversation with silly things like “facts”. Just listen, and provide caring support.
In the second example, do you want to go visit your sister or not? Then accept her for how she is.
Assuming she is not crossing any of your critical value boundaries, such as hurting others, etc, do not try to make “rules” about what she can talk about for you to grace her with your presence.
Not to say boundaries like that are never justified, but save those for the really critical things.
Sometimes, a family member will keep complaining because they never feel like they have been heard. Be sure to hear them.
But I’m even frustrated about being frustrated!
I get it, but stop beating yourself up over that.
Do NOT judge yourself on your ability not to be downright angry with your frustrating family member.
Read that again.
It’s totally normal to feel this way, and you have done nothing wrong when the waves of anger rush through your mind.
You are not petty, impatient, or uncaring (assuming you handle it maturely).
The fact is, you are so frustrated BECAUSE you care. That’s a good thing.
The solution to dealing with your frustration
You can’t fix them, you will only wreck your relationship with them by trying.
Do not grade yourself on whether or not you let them frustrate you.
They will frustrate you to no end, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Instead, judge yourself on the ability to “not say anything” and remain supporting and caring regardless of how frustrated you are by them.
Judge yourself on how you refrain from saying something that will hurt their feelings and scar your relationship.
After a conversation with them, congratulate yourself on your ability to keep your mouth shut despite the fact that you were so fatally frustrated.
Know that you were only so frustrated because you care.
Reward yourself for showing empathy, not giving your opinion, and just listening for a change.
Give it a try and please feel free to share how it went. We are here for support.