If your family doesn’t respect you, these 8 behaviors could be why

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Families are…complicated.

That’s one way to put it, right?

Our family belongs to one of the rare things in life we don’t choose – unless we eventually decide to build our own one, that is.

Still, though. You didn’t choose your parents. Your siblings. Your cousins. And now it’s up to you to keep up or let go of ties that you never asked for to begin with.

Since you clicked on this article, I’m guessing you’re someone who cares about the connection you’ve built with your family and you’re grasping at straws trying to understand why your family doesn’t respect you.

These 8 behaviors could be your why.

1) You’re at their beck and call

My friend’s been complaining about her parents a lot recently.

“They always call me to sort things out, book our holidays, and solve their fights. I’m so tired of it. I’m their child, not their parent!”

As someone who’s also had to step into a parental role around my caregivers in the past, I completely relate.

But I also understand that if she doesn’t put her foot down, her parents will keep on disrespecting her needs, primarily because she refuses to tell them what they are in the first place.

If you’re always available when your family calls, if you’re willing to bend over backward for them, and if you never tell them they’re crossing your boundaries…how are they to respect you?

It looks like you need to respect yourself first.

Learn to say no. Bring up issues that are troubling you. Explain to your family that you’re setting clearer boundaries.

If they get angry or annoyed, that’s not your problem. You’ve done your job.

2) You’d do anything to make them proud

I was raised to be an overachiever. If I got a C at school, my parents would get mad, so I tried my hardest to have straight As, win competitions, and make them proud.

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I realized I’d gone my whole life basing my self-worth on external accomplishments. If I didn’t get As, if I didn’t do anything extraordinary if I wasn’t amazing at everything I did…who would give me the praise I so desperately wanted?

And here comes the crux of the problem.

Your family might not respect you if you choose a path in life they disapprove of, but at least you’ll end up happy.

If you do everything they want – if you study to be a doctor even though you really love art, if you brag about every single accomplishment because you’re hungry for praise, or if you do things just to impress others – they might not respect you, either.

And as a cherry on top, you’ll feel miserable.

Separate your identity from your family’s expectations. Who are you when no one’s looking?

3) You always need their help

My friend’s brother is thirty years old and still lives with his parents. No one in the family likes him very much – he’s always in between jobs, has nowhere else to stay, and relies on his parents too much.

There comes a point in your life where your parents should no longer look after you. 

Don’t get me wrong, they might want to – they love you with all their hearts, after all – but you ought to be strong enough to build your own universe.

Don’t call them anytime you need help. Ask Google. Don’t rely on them for survival. Get a job and rent your own place.

You’re more resourceful than you think. You’ve just got to leave the nest – both physically and emotionally.

4) You always dredge up the past

This one’s a bit complicated.

If something bad happened in your family growing up, it’s completely valid to want to talk to your parents and siblings about it. It’s normal to feel wounded, wronged, and angry.

But if you’ve already discussed the issue so many times you’ve lost count and if you still can’t seem to let it go, that’s something you ought to come to your therapist with.

Not your mom after she’s just made your favorite lasagna.

Your family isn’t likely to lose respect for you just because you admit something in the past hurt you. They’ll lose respect if you keep going on and on about it like a broken record.

Why? Because it means you’re still stuck in the past. It means you can’t let go of the victim mindset. It means you don’t want to take responsibility for your part in the healing process.

But if you want to have a good relationship with your family…you’ve got to stop relying on them for emotional validation in this matter.

Your pain was real. Your pain was valid. Do you really need your parents to tell you that for it to become true?

5) You’re very unreliable

Look, everyone’s late from time to time. It’s no biggie.

But then there are people who make empty promises, arrive late or not at all, and couldn’t be counted on even if the whole world was on fire.

And they make it a habit.

I have a family member exactly like that, and let me tell you one thing – her unreliability costs her a tremendous amount of respect in our eyes.

So, if you want your family to respect you…don’t be flaky. Don’t go back on your word. Be on time.

6) You’re Mr. Know-It-All

Yet another thing that can drive your family absolutely crazy is intellectual snobbery.

Not everyone’s academically gifted. Not everyone wants to be the reincarnation of Einstein.

Some people just want to lead pleasant lives, enjoy their cup of coffee every morning, and have a good laugh over dinner.

If you’re very clever or work an intellectual job, chances are, your family will hold you in very high esteem. But the moment you start bragging about it or putting others down, you’ll fall from the pedestal at the speed of light.

Don’t use fancy words when you’re around people who obviously won’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t go on intellectual tangents no one understands. Don’t pretend you’re better than all of your family combined.

Do you know what’s smart? Humility.

When you mix humility with intelligence, you have a much higher chance of earning your family’s respect.

7) You brag about your luxurious lifestyle

I believe there are two things people generally brag about – intelligence and money.

Both are unwise. Bragging will only show how much you’re trying to impress others and earn their admiration, which is a very effective way to lose respect indeed.

The moment you start living your life for others is the moment you lose your power.

You don’t drive a BMW because you want to. You drive it to impress your brother-in-law.

You don’t show your grandparents photos from your private yacht because you think they’d appreciate the design. You show them because you want them to see how rich you are.

But the thing is, most people can tell you’re bragging. It’s not exactly subtle. And they won’t envy you your luxury because they’ll spend all their energy thinking about how much of a [insert a swear word of your choice] you are.

Just like with intelligence, money is powerful when it’s quiet.

This doesn’t mean you can’t buy your mom a house or take your sister for a luxurious holiday. But remain respectful of their own lifestyles, too.

8) You seek conflict at every family get-together

Finally, we’ve reached the most irritating behavior on the list!

Family members who always get into fights just for the sake of arguing are the worst. The moment they arrive at the get-together, everyone starts feeling on edge and conversations are carefully managed so that nothing triggers that one person.

And once you start arguing, the vibe is ruined. It’s just another rubbish day of eating dinner with [your name].

Look, I understand. Sometimes, arguments happen. Sometimes, you and your relatives’ values differ so dramatically that one little jab is enough to cause a one-hour-long fight.

But the bigger person is the one who garners more respect in everyone’s eyes because they manage to keep their cool and discuss heated topics in a reasonable and mature way.

So, who’s going to be the bigger person? Your grandpa, or you?

The answer’s up to you.

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Hack Spirit! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

If you need a major life overhaul, try doing these 7 things differently

8 things emotionally intelligent women do differently in relationships