How to Deal with Jerks in Your Family

The families that we see on television and in movies who manage to get along, no matter what their differences might be, often, unfortunately, represent an ideal that just doesn’t really exist. While most people are taught from a very young age to love, accept, and embrace their families with open arms, every once in a while there comes along a real jerk that you just can’t seem to put up with no matter how hard you try. 

Whether it’s their never-ending stream of opinions, their range of inappropriate questions, their judgments, their actions, or even their outspoken personalities, learning how to deal with these particular relatives to avoid family drama will be essential. Here are a few tips you can keep in mind that will help you deal with the jerks in your family so that you’re not at the center of all the drama this upcoming holiday.

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While avoiding these people at all costs might be your main goal, this can prove to be nearly impossible at family gatherings. But just because you’ll be forced to interact with them doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare yourself for whatever it is that they might say. While the habits and tendencies of these particular relatives might aggravate you to no end, you also know exactly how they’re going to act ahead of time. This can be a great advantage. Predicting what will happen and what they’re likely going to say, you’ll be able to give yourself the proper pep talk and coping mechanisms to give off a tight-lipped smile and move along. 

While you might feel like this relative is really giving you, in particular, a hard time, the reality is that these types of family members often act this way toward everyone, and it’s not usually a result of anything you’re actually doing. In fact, there’s a really good chance that they don’t even realize that what they’re saying is offensive or inappropriate. Remembering to not take anything they have to say personally and commiserating with the other members of your family that have been targeted can often be a great way to move on from their critiques and comments and form stronger bonds with the family you actually care about the opinions of.

When it comes to dealing with difficult situations, everyone has a different skill that they can rely on. For some people it’s forgiveness, sometimes it’s empathy, and for others it’s humor. Regardless of what your inner strength might be, make sure you take advantage of it and put it to full use with this person. If you’re someone who likes to find the funny side of things, do your best to make everything they say sound absolutely hilarious. That way you can simply laugh about it to yourself and move on from the uncomfortable interaction as quickly as possible rather than letting it get to you and exploding.

You’re probably going to have to at least say hello to this person at some point during the event, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay with them and listen to everything they have to say to you throughout the evening. There’s a difference between accepting your relatives for who they are and having to tolerate a torrent of abuse. If there’s someone you really can’t stand who’s done their very best to offend you at every turn, keep your interactions with them short and sweet. This way, they’ll feel like they’ve been acknowledged and won’t cause a fuss and you can avoid wanting to tear your ears off before the gathering has even begun.

Unfortunately, there are some relatives who just love to see their own family members suffer, and they’ll do whatever it takes to tear you down. However, keeping a positive attitude and being as nice as possible to them when you see them can be the best way to disarm them and throw them off their game. For these types of people, once they notice that they can’t or won’t get a reaction out of you that they’re looking for they’ll move on to someone or something else. This kind of attitude will also help you feel better about having to come into contact with them time and time again because there won’t be any sort of unresolved drama or guilt to worry about.

Is there a cousin that’s been on the receiving end of this relative’s judgments? Or, maybe your mom dislikes their overly enthusiastic comments as well? Pinpointing an ally in your family and teaming up can be a great way to quickly get yourself out of these awkward moments. Come to an agreement between the two of you where if one of you sees the other being targeted by the relative in question, you’ll do whatever you can to diffuse the situation and remove each other. Sometimes, tag-teaming is the simplest and most effective way to break away.

Are their specific conversations you really just don’t want to get involved in? Or, maybe there are topics that seem to really set your relatives off. Whatever the case might be, being able to identify and avoid these topics as best as you can will really come in handy. Do your best to not include these topics when you enter into the conversation, and if another relative brings it up, have a backup plan of other exciting conversations that can redirect discussions in another direction. Try to keep things light and nonconfrontational so that everyone in the group feels comfortable and grateful for your interference.

While absolutely no good will come from creating drama out of nowhere, there’s also no reason why you should have to put up with completely intolerable behavior. Often enough, these family members continue with their actions because no one has ever put them in check for it. While there are some comments and critiques that you’ll have to just put up with, make sure that you stand firm and don’t allow them to cross any lines and walk all over you. Have clear limits in your mind ahead of time, and the moment they’re being approached, make it clear to your relative that this isn’t a topic you feel comfortable discussing further. You don’t have to be rude about it, but make sure you get your point across so that they learn to keep these particular opinions to themselves. 

Having to deal with inappropriate and judgemental jerks in your family can be incredibly difficult and can even make you want to skip out on family gatherings altogether. Unfortunately, there are some get-togethers that you just won’t be able to avoid no matter how badly you might want to. However, that doesn’t have to mean you’ll have a miserable time. Keep these quality tools in your pocket and you’ll be able to avoid these uncomfortable moments and focus on all the beautiful memories you can create with the people you love starting today. 

Tommy P.
Tommy P.

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