Does your family truly respect you?
It can be hard to tell, especially when your family relies on an outer shell of niceness and flattery.
Here’s how to dig under the surface and find out whether the respect is for real or just for show.
1) Your family speaks highly of you
First things first: the term family is very variable so it really depends what this means to you.
In this article I’m speaking about your family as the sum total of those in your close family who you know well and grew up with.
This may be your mom, dad, siblings, guardians, step-siblings and extended relatives.
Family is the sum total of those who you consider your blood.
So the first question is how they speak about you in general.
Are your family members generally proud of you?
Do you hear your dad speak proudly about you on the phone to his friend?
Does your sister send around group emails where you’re mentioned in a positive light?
2) Your family publicly praises you
Weddings, barbecues, get-togethers, parties, outings, you name it:
Your family members publicly praise you.
This can just be lip service, true.
But generally speaking the truth about how family members see you is going to emerge as a kind of consensus at family events.
This is particularly true if alcohol is involved.
I realize this may be a controversial point, but I do somewhat subscribe to the idea of in vino veritas or truth in wine.
When people have a little buzz and feel less inhibited, they often speak their mind with a little less of a filter, hence owing to some of those infamous trainwreck speeches at weddings, for example, or heartfelt and inspiring homages at family events.
3) You family invests in you
This is a key point about whether your family really respects you.
Do they invest in you?
If you asked to borrow money and a family member had the capability to loan it, would they do so?
They say money talks, and it’s true.
If your family would really invest in you then it shows a deep level of respect.
This includes going into business together, partnering on projects and co-leasing properties and similar ventures.
The family that really stands behind you is willing to invest in you because they trust you and believe in you.
4) Your family encourages your aspirations
When your family supports you, it’s usually evident from a young age.
That’s because they encourage your dreams and encourage you to go after what you want.
This is in contrast to families which demand that kids follow in the footsteps of certain career or lifestyles that are traditional or mandated by the family.
To be fair, asking children to fit in pre-established roles does not mean they are undervalued or disrespected.
But it can lead to feeling cramped and less respected as an individual when you are being fitted more for a role than for what you feel called to.
5) Your family stays in touch with you
The next simple way to tell that your family truly respects you is that they stay in touch with you.
This goes both ways, of course, and you need to also do your best to stay in touch with family members.
This is especially the case if you live far from family and have a large geographical distance between you and other family members.
But if you notice that there’s a real attempt to stay up to date with you and check into you then it’s clear what this means:
Your family not only loves you and wants to check if you’re OK, they also support you and respect you at a deep level and want to see what you’re up to and doing with your time.
6) You get frequent kudos from family members
If you’re quite involved in family matters and do your best to contribute, you’ll likely get a lot of thanks.
Whether in the form of calls, emails, visits or cards, family members letting you know they appreciate you is a sure sign of respect.
There’s no obligation for you to chip in and there’s no obligation for family to really say thanks.
This is especially true since many families are built on an idea of having a “duty” to contribute.
That’s why expressions of particular thanks are a definite sign of respect that goes above and beyond the typical level.
7) Your family respects your relationship choices
Classic love stories like Romeo and Juliet show the disastrous consequences that can occur when families try to stand in the way of love.
But it’s also true that when a family doesn’t approve of a match their iciness and disapproval can eventually infect and ruin even a loving relationship.
That’s why respect from your family members over your relationship choices is really vital.
This has such a big impact on everything else, and it’s so valuable.
The key thing is that it can’t be forced and has to truly be a voluntary respect and decision to value who you choose to be in your life.
Even if your family members might have made a different choice in a mate, respecting who you chose is a fundamental part of family respect.
8) Your family is willing to agree to disagree on certain things
When it comes to ways you differ from family members, what is their reaction?
True respect is not always in agreeing but sometimes in agreeing to disagree and still loving you anyways.
If you have strong differences of opinion with family members, the true mark of their respect is in learning to leave such issues aside.
To the extent that it’s possible, a family that truly respects you will try to focus on common ground and not to reopen old wounds where you all know it’s going to lead to conflict.
9) Your family members own up to pain from the past instead of sweeping it under the rug
When it comes to trauma and issues in the past, a truly respecting family doesn’t try to hide it.
Your parents and siblings own up to what didn’t go wrong in past years.
Whatever shame or pain was experienced by you, by them or by all of you, those experiences are not denied, nor are they downplayed.
They are part of your family history and you’ll face them together.
The true family is always in solidarity and stands behind each other, supporting each other’s truth and experiences through thick and thin.
10) Your family doesn’t pretend to be perfect, nor does it demand that you be perfect
This is a crucial point, because one of the key downfalls of many families is the ideal of perfection.
A truly respectful and effective family doesn’t aim for an ideal.
It understands that family is messy, flawed and will always have issues.
But your family members admit their faults and know that you have flaws too.
And although you all try to improve and are conscious of your shortcomings, you also accept each other as you are.
What if you’re not respected by your family?
If you’re respected by your family then you’re fortunate and have stability and a solid foundation to rest on.
If not, however, it’s important to consider a few things.
First of all, nobody else has the ability to determine your value. Secondly, you will have to work harder and do more to value yourself if you’re missing that foundational validation.
Lastly, remember that people do change and that your family’s attitudes and lack of respect for you is not necessarily a permanent thing.