If you recognize these 12 signs, you may have a toxic family

Is your family toxic?

It’s a horrible thing to even consider, but for some people it’s an unfortunate reality and it needs to be faced. 

If your family is treating you in the following ways it’s time to confront what’s going on and respond to it. 

1) They undercut your goals and dreams

Your goals and dreams may be realistic or they may not. 

But either way, your family should be trying their best to give you advice that’s supportive or at least lets you down gently. 

Having your dreams and ideas undercut and directly attacked by family is a very painful process. 

I wish so many of my own friends and colleagues hadn’t experienced it for themselves… 

2) They disrespect what you stand for

On a related note is finding that your family just doesn’t back your values or what you stand for. 

In fact, they openly disrespect it.

Phone calls turn into interrogations, family dinners turn into family members explaining why you’re wrong or deluded. 

It’s exhausting to say the least. 

The thing is:

Even if you are misguided or wrong in some way, being disrespected like this by those who should care for you most leaves a deep scar.

3) They just don’t give you a break 

Family is the place where we go for support and to be heard. 

When your family seems like your harshest critics, nobody can blame you for being a little confused!

Sure, growing up we often face discipline and rules from parents or older siblings. 

But being undercut and criticized with constant pressure and negativity?

This shouldn’t be what family is about, not at all! 

4) They attempt to force beliefs on you

If your family members try to force beliefs on you that’s not OK. 

Of course we’re all raised by family or guardians with their beliefs as youngsters. 

But once you’re old enough to decide for yourself about what you value and believe, it’s best if your family allows you some freedom. 

There’s no problem with family members having strong beliefs, but trying to force you to also adopt them is where the problem lies.

5) They pressure you into work you don’t want

When it comes to career, that’s part of the area where choice is so vital. 

We can’t all have our dream job, but the chance to at least try to pursue a career we want is vital. 

If your family gets in the way of that or tries to railroad you only into the kind of work they want you doing?


6) They try to run your love life

The next category and crucial aspect is your love life. 

Your family members may have insightful and good advice about who you should date, marry or sleep with. 

But if they try to control that it becomes more complicated, and a lot of lines get crossed. 

Family often does know us best, so I believe that some input on our romantic and sex life is warranted. 

But all out trying to control your romantic life or even sabotage it is going way too far. 

7) They are constantly infighting

No family is full of perfect harmony, in fact, no group or even individual is completely harmonious if you ask me. 

But infighting is never the sign of a great team or family. 

If your family always seems to be bickering and fighting, there’s clearly a lot of work to do in terms of improving communication and figuring out where things have gone off track. 

This brings me to the next point…

8) Family members play each other off against each other

A common element of infighting is picking favorites and proxy wars…

If your family splits into faction or tries to play off members against each other it’s a sign of deep toxicity

When your dad is mad at your mom, for example, does he try to enlist your sister’s help against your mom? 

Things like this are far more common than they should be and show how families can descend into very juvenile and spiteful situations. 

Sometimes it’s necessary to really take a step back and go:

“OK, what exactly is going on here?” 

9) They financially exploit and burden you 

Just like finances can become a huge problem in relationships, they can also add to tension and toxicity in families

Jealousy, irresponsible borrowing and freeloading are just a few of the things to watch out for here. 

If your family tends to have an unhealthy relationship with money and family members use money as a weapon, that’s a very distressing sign. 

Something certainly needs to change, and you’re reasonable for expecting it to change as soon as possible. 

10) They humiliate and disempower you

Your family can’t always be on your side, but at the very least it’s fair to ask that your family respect you and treat you decently. 

When family members humiliate and disempower you it’s the exact opposite. 

This is the kind of behavior that leads to people cutting off contact with their family, which is really sad to see. 

If your family humiliates you and even engages in forms of bullies in undercutting you, that is most certainly classic toxic behavior. 

11) They gaslight you and make false accusations

Gaslighting you and trying to make you doubt your own eyes is a highly toxic behavior

If members of your family are doing this, you need to avoid them. 

It’s never ok to gaslight somebody and it’s a highly unhealthy and damaging behavior. 

This is not your fault and it’s not your fault for walking away, either!

12) They deny or downplay past abuse and hardship

If past abuse has occurred inside or outside the family context, it needs to be admitted. 

Those I know who suffered abuse within their family only to have it never really faced or admitted were re-victimized. 

It’s truly horrible to be among people who claim to love you but act like you are dirty or shameful for abuse that was done to you. 

Even if the abuser was kicked out of the family or faced justice, that doesn’t mean everyone else gets to act like it never happened. 

If this is happening, your family is toxic. 

What to do next…

It’s not a simple or easy process to cut off family, and it’s understandable if you want to try to work things out.

Talk things over with your family if you can. 

Even if there’s only one family member you feel really listens to you or respects you, sit down with them and open up about how you feel. 

It’s your time to be heard and come clean about the way you feel mistreated by your family. 

If your family is toxic it’s not easy, nor necessarily possible to change that. 

But it is possible to decide how much you will try to disengage and where you will draw your firm boundaries

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