How to Deal With Toxic Family Members Biblically (7 Steps)

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

 How to Deal With Toxic Family Members BiblicallyDo you have certain family members you can’t stand to be around?

While it’s normal to have the occasional conflict or annoyance, if you’re dealing with toxic family members (whether parents, in-laws, siblings, or even young or adult children), the issue goes far beyond a simple annoyance.

When family members are simply annoying, you can often choose to overlook their faults. It’s not that big of a deal. If you’re struggling to know how to deal with toxic family members biblically, however, simply ignoring the bad behavior won’t help.


For one Equipping Godly Women reader, her toxic family members show blatant favoritism.

“My relationship with my family isn’t a healthy one. Both my parents and my siblings clearly favor my sister and her kids over me and mine, and it hurts me and my kids the way this favoritism is displayed.


For example, they don’t visit me unless they need favors, and they brush my concerns aside when I try to share how their actions make me feel. My feelings are minimized, dismissed and discarded. It’s hurtful.


Even my kids are aware of this blatant favoritism. They ask questions about why their cousins get more attention, etc., and it breaks my heart.


I want to remain respectful to my parents and siblings, yet this has been happening for over five years now with no signs of remorse, and I don’t know how to make them understand how hurtful their actions are to me and my children.


I don’t want to go against God’s words or teachings. How do I deal with toxic family members biblically?”


If you’re struggling to figure out how to deal with toxic family members biblically, you’re not alone.

Maybe you’ve been wondering, “What does the Bible say about toxic family members?”

Maybe you’ve even been Googling questions like, “What does the Bible say about evil family members?” or “When should a Christian walk away from family?” Or maybe you aren’t sure if you’re dealing with toxic family members at all. (Maybe your family is simply annoying.)


You know you want to be a good Christian and do the right thing, but maybe it seems like no matter how much you love, forgive, ignore their tactics, and turn the other cheek, the mistreatment and manipulation never stops. It only gets worse.

The family dynamic is completely unhealthy, everyone involved is miserable, and nothing is working, no matter how much you try.

You want to be kind, but they’re driving you crazy, and you’re not sure what to do.

So now you’re wondering, “How do I deal with toxic family members biblically??”


Whatever your situation today, there is hope.

In this post, we’ll examine the common warning signs of a toxic relative, what the Bible says about toxic family members, 7 practical tips to help you deal with toxic family members biblically, and a few great resources you’ll want to check out.


*This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking through one of my links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps cover the many costs of running this site and allows me to help provide for my growing family. Thank you!


15 Warning Signs You’re Dealing with a Toxic Family Member

While it may seem hurtful to label your parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, in-laws, or children as “toxic family members,” there’s something incredibly healing and freeing about knowing you’re not crazy and their behavior is not okay.

Common warning signs of toxic family members include: 

  • They’re abusive (physically, mentally, verbally, sexually, or emotionally).
  • They constantly criticize, shame, blame, or belittle others.
  • They’re controlling, manipulative, or passive-aggressive.
  • They’re constantly annoyed, angry, defensive, or defensive.
  • They’re jealous of others’ successes. Everything is a competition.
  • They always have to be the center of attention.
  • They’re selfish, self-centered, and arrogant.
  • They play the victim, are never wrong, and are never at fault.
  • They’re dismissive of others’ wants, needs, and opinions.
  • They belittle your grief, sadness, frustration, childhood trauma, or current pain.
  • Their reactions or emotions are unpredictable, sudden, and intense.
  • They give you the silent treatment when they don’t get their way.
  • They love drama and will create it where none exists.
  • Your home is in constant chaos due to their actions and reactions.
  • They don’t respect your healthy boundaries.
  • They gaslight you, causing you to question reality.
  • You always “lose” in your disagreements, even if it’s not your fault.
  • You rarely (or never) feel love, acceptance, or support.
  • You’re worried about your physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental health.
  • You feel depressed, anxious, exhausted, or unsettled around them.
  • You feel like you’re walking on eggshells around them.


If these warning signs perfectly describe someone you know, you may be dealing with a toxic family member. 

The vast majority of toxic family members won’t display all of these warning signs. And there’s a difference between the occasional toxic behavior and labeling someone a toxic person.

(We all do dumb things and act in ways we aren’t proud of sometime, and it’s possible to do bad things without being a bad person.)

If your friends and family members are simply annoying, it’s probably best to give them grace and try to overlook their faults. No one’s perfect, and dealing with annoying people can actually help you grow spiritually as you develop patience, understanding, and compassion.

BUT if your toxic family members repeatedly or consistently display these warning signs, it may be time to set boundaries, draw on your support system for help, and/or get therapy from a licensed counselor so you can enjoy a drama-free life again.

No one should have to live in constant fear, depression, anxiety, or dread after spending time with dysfunctional family members. No one should settle for emotional abuse or toxic family dynamics due to others’ sinful choices or addictions.


Related Reading: How to Set Biblical Boundaries as a Christian


How Would God Want Me to Deal with Toxic Family Members as a Christian?

Follow God's Will Book and Workbook

Do you ever wonder, “What would God want me to do in this situation?”

Should I try to repair my relationships with toxic family members? Set boundaries? Walk away and cut them out of my life?

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In Follow God’s Will: Biblical Guidelines for Everyday Life, we take a deep dive into how you can know (with relative certainty) exactly what God wants you to do in the difficult or confusing situations you face each day.

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  • What does God want me to do personally?
  • How do I apply the Bible’s instructions to my life today?
  • What would God want me to do in the difficult situations I face each day?
  • How should I navigate relationships with those who think, act, or believe differently than I do?
  • And so much more!

Want to start reading for free?

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What Does The Bible Say About Toxic Family Members?

While the Bible does say that we should turn the other cheek, forgive, and love our enemies, it’s important to understand these Scripture verses in context. The Bible does not say that we should allow toxic family members to continually abuse, mistreat, or walk all over us (or our families).

In fact, there are times when the most loving, Christian response is to set boundaries or cut ties with toxic family members in order to protect ourselves and our families and/or so we don’t continue to enable our toxic family members’ selfish, sinful behavior.

While the Bible never uses the exact phrase “toxic family members,” Scripture has a lot to say about how we should treat those who mistreat us, and there’s a lot of (understandably) a lot of nuance to the discussion.

Here’s what the Bible says about toxic family members and those who mistreat us.


Choose Your Companions Wisely (Proverbs 13:20)

“Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

While you can’t choose your family, you can choose to spend less time around those whose consistent poor choices have a negative impact on your personal faith or witness.

See also: Psalm 1:1, Proverbs 16:29, Proverbs 22:24-25, 1 Corinthians 15:33.


Encourage Others in Good Deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

As Christians, we want to encourage each other to serve the Lord and do what’s right. None of us are perfect. We all need each others’ loving support, correction, and encouragement.

See also: Romans 15:1-2, Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Timothy 4:2, Hebrews 3:13.


Guard Your Faith (2 Peter 3:17)

“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.”

Yet, while we do want to encourage others in the faith, we must be careful that our own faith isn’t badly damaged in the process. Some people are glad for gentle correction. Others will lash out at everyone near them. It’s wise to know the difference.

See also: Matthew 7:6, Proverbs 13:20.


Related Reading: What Does the Bible Say About Self-Care? (A Christian Perspective)


Avoid Toxic Family Members Who Love Drama and Division (Romans 16:17-18)

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

You can’t always control how others behave, but you can choose to remove yourself from the situation so you don’t reap their negative consequences as well. The Bible repeatedly warns us to steer clear of other Christians who are bent on doing what’s wrong.

See also: 2 Timothy 2:22-26, Titus 3:9-11.


Love Your Enemies (Luke 6:27-29)

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.”

Jesus provides the ultimate example of loving your enemies, but it’s important to note that this passage is in the context of those who persecute you *for your faith.* It does not mean that we must allow everyone to mistreat us. Love does not mean “be a doormat.”

The famous love passage, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, tells us that:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

We can treat others with respect, honor, and dignity–without allowing them to abuse us.

See also: Leviticus 19:18, Romans 12:14, 17-20, 1 Peter 3:9, 1 John 4:7.


Forgive Those Who Hurt You (Matthew 18:21-22)

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”

Similarly, to “forgive” someone doesn’t mean to say that what they did was right or okay, and it doesn’t mean that we have to maintain a close, healthy relationship with them. Rather, we can forgive someone by releasing our anger and desire for revenge to God. We can hold peace in our hearts, knowing that God will deal with them and their behavior.

See also: Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25, Luke 6:37, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13.


Don’t Seek Revenge or Repayment for Evil (1 Peter 3:9)

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

This goes right along with our call to forgiveness. We can treat others with honor, dignity, and respect — even if they don’t deserve it. We can take the high road and do what’s right, even if we are the only one who does.

See also: Deuteronomy 32:35, Proverbs 20:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:15.


Pursue Peace, When Possible (Ephesians 4:2-3)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

There are times when it’s important to stand up for justice and do what’s right. There are also times when it simply isn’t worth the fight–either because the issue is small or the other person isn’t likely to listen. While it’s perfectly fine to set Christian boundaries, we should do so in a way that pursues peace, not in a way that retaliates or lashes out at others in anger.

See also: Mark 9:50, Romans 12:16, Romans 15:5-6, Hebrews 12:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:13


Do Not Rejoice Over Others’ Downfall (Proverbs 24:17)

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice”


See also: Obadiah 1:12, Proverbs 17:5, 1 Peter 2:1.


Tired of Being “Nice” to Toxic Family Members? Jesus Wasn’t Always Nice…

Yes, we absolutely should love our enemies. But I think sometimes we forget what love really means.

Loving someone well does not mean always playing “nice,” always being the peacemaker, or just letting other people walk all over you. This isn’t love–it’s called enabling.

A better definition of love would be: honoring the true dignity of another person, acknowledging their inherent worth as human beings, created and loved by God, and doing everything in your power to do good for them and to act in their best interest.

Yes, it absolutely can include being “kind” (see 1 Cor. 13:4-7 again), but it’s so much more than that. And in fact, if you really examine the way Jesus behaves in the Gospels, his actions aren’t always what we consider “nice.”

  • When a Canaanite woman asks Jesus for his help in Matthew 15:26, “He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.'”
  • Jesus tells the Pharisees, You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” in Matthew 12:34.
  • And let’s not forget how “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves” in Matthew 21:12.


Now, I wouldn’t actually recommend you call your in-laws dogs or vipers or flip their tables! My point here is ONLY that the Bible does not teach us that we need to be super polite, calm, and passive to the point of being walked over and enabling others in their sins.

In fact, Jesus instructs the apostles to “leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” in Matthew 10:14 and to “treat [unrepentant sinners] as you would a pagan or a tax collector” in Matthew 18:17.

Jesus’s plan for our lives isn’t to make us “nice.” It’s to make us (and our loved ones) holy. Sometimes that means treating others kindly. But other times that means protecting ourselves and our families instead of protecting the feelings of others who insist on pursuing sinful attitudes or behaviors.


See also: Yes, Christians Should Judge


How to Deal With Toxic Family Members Biblically

So since the Bible doesn’t teach us to be passive doormats, how should we deal with toxic family members Biblically?

Here’s what I would advise:


1. Assess the Situation Honestly

Toxic family members are annoying. So it only makes sense that you might get worked up when your friends and family members start showing the signs of a toxic person, or you start noticing the many signs of a toxic relationship.

Before you get too worked up, though, take a step back and assess the situation honestly:

  • Is the other person actually toxic, or simply annoying, thoughtless, etc?
  • Is the problem serious enough to warrant action, or can you simply overlook it for the sake of family unity?
  • Are you sure the other person’s actions are intentional, not simply perceived? (Ex: yelling, disappointment, blame)
  • What type of effect is the behavior having on you and your family?
  • What have you done to remedy the situation in the past, if anything?
  • Have you actually told the other person how you are feeling and what you’d like to change?
  • Are things getting better, staying the same, or getting worse?


In the best-case scenario: you may realize that the other party truly didn’t mean to hurt you and that they were unaware that their behavior was coming across so hurtful. If this is the case, then you may simply need to have a conversation.

Alternately, if the behavior is purposeful but small enough in nature, you may simply be able to ignore it or avoid the situation when possible. Life isn’t perfect, people are annoying, and sometimes we just have to deal with annoying people.

Yes, there are absolutely times when you may need to take action (there are times when cutting people out of your life is the right choice to make), but let’s not jump there quite yet.

Can the behavior simply be resolved or overlooked? If so (and the situation isn’t serious), then start here.


When to Walk Away BookSometimes, it can be really difficult to know if the issue is “bad” enough to consider walking away or if you just need to stay and be more loving.

There truly is no one size fits all answer. And it can be especially difficult to think clearly if your friends and family have engaged in gaslighting, manipulating, or other confusing behaviors.

This is why you absolutely want to seek godly counsel from friends and family who know you well, as well as seek out great books and resources to help you gain more insight into what’s normal and what’s not.

Sometimes you don’t realize how wrong a behavior is if it’s all you’ve known or if it’s what you’re used to.

This is where books like When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People can come in really useful! Written by a pastor, this book (and others like it) can help you figure out your situation while still staying true to biblical principles.


2. Accept Responsibility for Any Wrongdoing on Your Part

Next, let’s take a minute to look at yourself and any part you may have played in the issue: Have you done anything to make the situation worse? Or failed to do something to make the situation better?

While the situation may not ultimately be “your fault” (especially in cases of outright abuse), once we reach adulthood, each of us is responsible for and accountable for our own actions.

And this is good news! Because it means that you have the power and ability to choose different actions and to improve your situation.

It’s time to get honest with yourself.

  • Have you said or done anything hurtful to the other person? (even unintentionally!)
  • Have you ever failed to treat them as kindly or as respectfully as you should have?
  • Have you ever been selfish, self-centered, or mean-spirited?

Again, I’m not saying the mistreatment is your fault. But if you have done (or continue to do) things that hurt the other party, they may be acting out of that hurt. And a heartfelt apology for any wrongdoings on your part may be just what the other person needs to heal.

You aren’t responsible for them, but you are responsible and accountable for YOU — no matter what they’ve done to “deserve it.”


3. Set Healthy, Biblical Boundaries With Family

Next, once you’ve gotten honest about the situation and the role you may have played in it, it’s time to set some Biblical boundaries with family members and friends who may need them.

What behaviors will you accept? Which behaviors will you not accept? Where is the boundary?


Boundaries BookThis is where the book “Boundaries” comes in really helpful!

When you are dealing with people and situations who are truly toxic, manipulative, crazy or even abusive, it can really make you question your sanity and your decision-making! You want to do the right thing, but you may question what the right thing is or what requests are reasonable. It can be hard to tell.

That’s where Boundaries does a great job of laying out a Biblical framework to help you understand what truly is your responsibility, what requests are unreasonable, where you should draw the line, and how you can do so without guilt.

You can find Boundaries at your local library or on Amazon here.


Here’s the advice I gave the reader whose story I shared in the introduction to this article:

Personally, I would explain, incredibly politely, that while you love them, you cannot allow them to continue to hurt you and your children in this way. (If you even want to explain at all. I mean, you’ve had this conversation several times now. I don’t know if it is necessary to say anything else.)

I would be careful to be as unemotional, straightforward and polite as possible, to avoid saying anything that could be taken as accusatory, and to just speak out of your concern for the children.

For example, “We’ve spoken with you several times about how we feel as though you favor the other family over us. This has really hurt our family, as we want to enjoy a close, healthy relationship with you too, but it never seems to happen. Unfortunately, I cannot allow my children to have their hopes up and be so disappointed every time. For this reason, we will not be spending as much time with you…” etc, etc, in your own words.

Then, if they call, tell them you’re busy or cannot help them out at this time.

(Which is true–you are busy… doing anything else other than being mistreated by toxic family members… even if that’s just washing the dishes or playing with the kids. That counts as busy.)


So what do healthy, biblical boundaries with family look like for you?

Do you need to limit visits or restrict your visits to a certain format? (For example, maybe you are happy to call on the phone, but you can no longer visit in person.)

Do you need to set the boundary that you can only visit X times a year, that you can only give X dollars a month, or that you will only continue to be around them only as long as the conversation remains healthy and polite?

Seek wise counsel from friends and family you trust to make sure your boundaries are reasonable, let the other party know what your boundaries are, and then stick to them. 

There’s no need to feel guilty. The Bible encourages you to set Biblical boundaries with family where necessary.

(And if you still feel guilty, read the Boundaries book. It will help you figure out how to deal with toxic family members Biblically without feeling so guilty about it!)


4. Stick to Your Boundaries!

Once you’ve set your boundaries and told your friends and family members where they are — this is the hard part. You have to stick to the boundaries you’ve set!

I know that learning how to deal with toxic family members Biblically isn’t easy. It takes time and practice, and you won’t get it all right the first time, but stick with it.

Because if you’re continually “bending the rules,” your family will just learn that your “rules” aren’t really rules at all.

Seek Godly counsel, determine (through prayer) where your boundaries should be, and then stick to them!


5. Pray!

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do in a relationship is simply to pray for the other person.

This is why God commands us, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you in Luke 6:27-28.

Pray that God would heal their hurt, that he would open their eyes to their behavior, and that your relationship could be restored. 

Pray that God would help you love your toxic family members more and that He would give you the wisdom to deal with them wisely.

God will help you learn how to respond to toxic family members — you just have to ask!


Related Reading: Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers? (6 Biblical Reasons)


6. Forgive

Now, I know you may feel very angry or resentful towards the toxic family members and friends who have hurt you and ruined your familial relationships, but the Bible is clear: We have to forgive, even when we don’t feel like it.

We see this in Mark 11:25, which says, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Please understand, though: Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that what they did is okay or that they shouldn’t receive any consequences for their action. 

You can still set Biblical boundaries and turn an abuser in to the authorities if needed.

But we have a responsibility to forgive others (even and especially our enemies) if we want God to forgive us as well.


Related Reading: Four Things Every Christian Needs to Know About Forgiveness


7. Close the Door


So far in this article, I’ve tried to help you answer the following questions:

  • Am I in a toxic relationship?
  • What are the signs of a toxic person/signs of a toxic relationship?
  • What does the Bible say about toxic family members / how to deal with toxic family members Biblically?


If you have done all of the above to the best of your ability, then it may be time for you to ask the last question: “What does the Bible say about cutting ties with family / cutting people out of your life?”


The truth is: While it would be awesome if we could all get along, the truth is that we do have free will, and some people choose to use theirs in a way that interferes with God’s best for our lives.

And when this happens, we don’t have to stay stuck in toxic, abusive relationships.

God walks away from stubborn, sinful people at times (Romans 1:24-28). Jesus had times when he walked away (Matthew 12:34). And we have the Biblical right to walk away too.

God opens doors, but we often forget that he closes them, too. 

Sometimes, as unfortunate as it is, when there is nothing more we can do, we need to just step back and let GOD deal with it in a way that only He can. And that’s okay.

There are plenty of people in the world we can enjoy close, healthy relationships with. It doesn’t always have to be with our toxic family members.


Related Reading: How to Let Go of Past Hurts and Move Forward


Books to Help You Deal with Toxic Family Members Biblically

Obviously, there’s so much more that can be said on the topic of how to deal with toxic family members biblically (whether toxic parents, in-laws, siblings, or young or grown children) than I could possibly cover in one blog post.

While this article should provide an excellent start for you, I’d highly recommend you to check out at least one of the following three books that cover the subject on a much deeper level, each with a slightly different angle.


1. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Boundaries Book

If you struggle with setting healthy, God-honoring boundaries with your family, this book is a MUST read. There’s a reason it’s continued to sell an incredible number of copies over the last three decades.

In “Boundaries,” Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend take a gospel-centered approach to help those in strained or toxic relationships answer questions including:

  • Can I set limits and still be a loving person?
  • What are legitimate boundaries?
  • What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries?
  • How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money?
  • Aren’t boundaries selfish?
  • Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries?

This book is perfect for anyone trying to figure out how to love difficult family members well, without getting run over by toxic family members in the process.

You can find “Boundaries” on Amazon here.


2. When to Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People

When to Walk Away BookAdditionally, if you’re at the point where you’re considering cutting contact with your toxic family members, you’ll want to read When To Walk Away: Finding Freedom from Toxic People by well-known pastor and bestselling author Gary Thomas.

This book will help you:

  • Learn the difference between difficult people and toxic people
  • Find refuge in God when you feel under attack
  • Discern when to walk away from a toxic situation
  • Keep a tender heart even in unhealthy relationships
  • Grow your inner strength and invest in reliable people

You can find “When to Walk Away” on Amazon here. 


What is God’s Will for Your Relationships?

Follow God's Will Book and Workbook

While Follow God’s Will isn’t about relationships with toxic family members specifically,  it’s chock full of step-by-step, biblical guidance to help you know exactly what God wants you to do in any situation you may be facing.

Practical, encouraging, and full of biblical truth, Follow God’s Will is designed to help you answer questions including:

  • What does God want me to do personally?
  • How do I apply the Bible’s instructions to my life today?
  • What would God want me to do in the difficult situations I face each day?
  • How should I navigate relationships with those who think, act, or believe differently than I do?
  • And so much more!

Want to start reading for free?

Simply enter your first name and best email below, and I’ll send you the first chapter right away!


Have you ever had to deal with toxic family members Biblically (or friends)? What helpful advice would you offer to our anonymous reader on how to deal with toxic family members Biblically? 

Brittany Ann Equipping Godly Women

About the author

Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author of “Fall in Love with God’s Word” and “Follow God’s Will” and the founder of, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go "all in" in faith and family. Her work has been featured on CBN, The Christian Post, Crosswalk, and more.

  1. Setting “BOUNDARIES” not easy to do. Especially when you once lived a life without boundaries. A life filled with much sorrow and regret! Satisfying the flesh and reaping the consequences of sins deceit! I truly surrendered my life to the Lord (repentance included), but still have encounter the whirl wind of my choice now through my children, grandchildren, and now 2 beautiful great grandchild few months hold may someday experience same things (signs are already there)! My heart just breaks!! .

    I know,” I have been forgiven much and because of this, I too need to forgive much.” Not my will but his will be done, the Holy Spirit will continue to work in me until He calls me home.

    Yet, their selfishness and their mannerism is such to a point, I have allowed too much to go buy without setting any boundaries; do to the fear of loosing the family I so love and adore! I have repeatedly expressed my failures as a mother to my daughters. My husband and I through the grace of God, provided them and my grandchildren an abundance of unconditional love always forgiving their shortcoming, and providing much to sustain them as single parents. Yet, they have tried to lay false guilt trips on me. I feel exactly as this is stated here; “For example, they don’t visit me unless they need favors and they brush my concerns aside when I try to share how their actions make me feel. My feelings are minimized, dismissed and discarded many times! It’s hurtful.”

  2. Thank you for this article, and for everyone who has shared their experiences. It helps to read about others that have similar experiences in dealing with toxic family members. I find that it’s very difficult as a Christian to walk the fine line between turning the other cheek and enabling emotionally abusive behaviour. I was seeking advice on how to demonstrate Christ’s love and forgiveness in my family (mostly my mother and sister) but still protecting my own peace and setting healthy boundaries. What I am distinctly aware of is how satan will try to torment you through your unsaved family members. This is spiritual warfare!! Unrepented, sinful and hateful hearts against God are unfortunately puppets for the enemy. I still love my family members, I pray for their salvation the most. Without the transformation of Christ in their hearts, you will be trying to reconcile problems/issues with satan – as this is who they are controlled by. To not set healthy boundaries with anyone who is under satan’s control is very dangerous. I think that’s why we are told to wipe the dust off our feet, or why Jesus asks who is our mother, father, etc. Our brothers and sisters in Christ is our true family. I think we are placed in our toxic families to be a witness to them – but also so they do not have an excuse when they stand before God, as they heard/knew about the Lord through us. Hanging on to abusive people is only a sign that we have not healed, and still crave their acceptance. I am so saddened that I may never have the relationships I truly desire with my family members, but that is not something I alone can fix. God is Healer. Let’s continue to pray for them, as they are lost. But also remember that it is important to recognize the spiritual warfare aspect to every relationship we have on this earth, and to pray for our own protection and healing as well. In my opinion, limiting time/energy spent on toxic people is essential for your own well-being. I am still struggling on how to do it, it’s so hard, but we can navigate anything with Christ. I think we have to remind ourselves often that it’s not our job to heal someone else, it’s God’s. We can pray, and work on our own issues, but we can’t force anyone else to change. Sometimes loving someone means being honest with them about their behaviour and not tolerating emotional abuse from them, so they can learn what is acceptable behaviour and maybe be motivated to change. Accepting/understanding that has helped me. God bless you all.

    1. I have read through this whole entire post, and although there have been some very good advice given, this by far in my opinion, is one of the BEST advice given throughout.
      • We all are having “Spiritual Warfare” which means you MUST HAVE HEAVY PRAYER TIME before seeing any one of these TOXIC individuals. Know who we are dealing with, “satan”. He is no match for you! He came to destroy, divide, concur and kill …. The only way to deal with him is through HEAVY PRAYER TIME BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD. Satan knows all your weaknesses… all your Buttons to push… PRAY YOURSELF UP PRAY UP PRAY UP Ask the Holy Spirit for Knowledge, Wisdom, Guidance, and LOTS OF PROTECTION!!!! Before you go anywhere to be in their presence, you and your husband, pray together as a “Support Team” for one another. If you are alone, try to take a Godly friend along, who can pray for you. Or ask that friend to pray for you while you are gone. If you don’t have a friend to go with you, than PRAY for the Holy Spirit (pray to the H/S regardless), to be upon you, with you, anoint you, to give you the words you need to speak, the WISDOM, the BOLDNESS, and know the actions you must take, should you need to act on whatever.
      • We MUST pray at all times, asking God for Healing our Emotions, our Stress, Anxieties, etc. Take each TOXIC member that is hindering your walk with God, and in prayer ask God to point out what you need to do when such and such comes up, or HAPPENS. Know what you will do, what you will say, what your next plan of action is going to be … prior to engaging, PERIOD. Whether it be on the phone, in person, on fb, texting, no matter.
      • Know YOUR PLAN, ASK God/Holy Spirit to show and guide you to the way. Prior to meeting write out what you might say, b/f it happens. Think it through … Practice makes Perfect…. keep practicing…. You have all the Heavenly people to help you, to pray for you, to support you through whatever…. – Blessed Mother, Moses, Joseph, David, Jacob, Job, etc. all the Saints, all of God’s Angels to call on, to help you through whatever battles you may face. Use them! Direct them to go and Soften Loved Ones Hearts, get them to go b/f you to get all Infections and Toxicity out! Do this in Jesus’ name, tell satan to go where the sun doesn’t shine, which means– to hell and stay there! Ask the Holy Angels of God to take care of you and yours, to protect you and yours, from all satan’s demons and ask God’s Angels to do the battling for you.
      • We MUST set Strict Boundaries and to continue to enforce them, at all times and at all costs! Sometimes that may mean moving away, MOVING to another State entirely, staying away for months and maybe years at a time, and/or to just , maybe entertain minimum limited visits!
      • We MUST forgive but that does not mean, being a punching mat or continuing to allow our heads knocked in, and than feeling guilty for taking a stand against crappy behavior, or allowing ourselves and our families to continue being beaten up. Enabling them to continue in this poisonous and deadly manners.
      • Do Not Enable Toxic Behaviors to continue, period. Should any type of bad behaviors starts up. Immediately remove yourself, your family — entirely away from that home, If you say something as a warning, be absolutely clear about what your next step is going to be, and be absolutely certain to follow through with actions of leaving., or with whatever your consequences are going to be.

  3. Hello! I am also dealing with several toxic family members as well. I have an abusive father. He was physically and verbally abusive to my mother, his ex girlfriend, and me when I was younger. The first big events of abuse towards me happened between the ages of 5 and 6. During this time there was lots of tension and family feuds. Eventually the courts got involved and after some therapy I decided to see him again when I was 10. Those were the worst years of my live. He went from physically abusive to mentally and verbally, since he could get serious penalties for further physical abuse. During this time he was physically abusing his ex-girlfriend. I was stuck seeing him as the court order said that both of us had to agree to stop seeing each other, when he got mad at me he would say he didn’t want to see me anymore but when it the time came to go through with it he would retract what he said. Fast forward to me being 17 and another incident happens, not as bad as the first couple I had as a child, but enough that still traumatized me. I finally put my foot down, not caring about the order since I was nearly 18 anyways, and I stopped seeing him. Tensions on his side of the family has risen. My aunt keeps telling me that I am disobeying Jesus because I am not “honoring my mother and father,” and that I have to see him for Jesus to save me, and if I don’t Jesus will not bless me with good things in my life. I tell her that I am not going to be a punching bag and that he has not changed like thought he did, as he physically abused my mother (often I witnessed what he did to her) and the girl friend he had after my mother and the incidents with me. She blames his past abuse on alcohol and him not being able to control his anger. Every time we see each other we get into the same argument. When I tell her I don’t want to talk about it she brings it up anyways. She also claims that I am being very unfair to her and my grandparents because I refuse to show up to family events he is at, as several incidents happened with them around. Am I can’t take it anymore. Am I dishonoring God by refusing to see my abusive father?

  4. My husband and I have been in therapy for years over my in laws. We have been together for almost 13 years and married for almost 10. My MIL is very critical and my FIL barely talks or he’s yelling- there isn’t much in between. I tried at the beginning to get to know them but my effort was met with them being critical or disinterest. They have always expected us to do whatever they say and we should never question them. They view “family” as a hierarchy and most of the reasons for demanding things on us was “it’s family- you should do it” it has nothing to do with how they treated us. It got to the point that they were disrespectful of the decisions that my husband and I made for our family. I do think my husband and I messed up because we never told them how they were making us until it became a breaking point for me. It was hard for us because they are not good communicators and they don’t see things outside of their own view points so they would come stay with us for the weekend and make a rude comment on Friday and we wouldn’t address it in order not to ruin the entire weekend. Looking back we regret this very
    much because we think we made the situation worse by not staying ahead of the problem. It got really bad once we started having children and they felt they were entitled to whatever they wanted. This is when therapy started pretty regularly because we needed tools to set some healthy boundaries. They did not respond well to any of this and if anything we took steps backwards and got to the point where we had to distance ourselves from them because it was extremely unhealthy environment. They will not apologize or take any accountability for the situation and because of that we have struggled to move forward. We haven’t spoken to them in a year and a half at this point. The mom sends texts on birthdays and holidays pretending as if nothing is wrong meanwhile playing the victim to her entire family. I started reading the Bible and going to church and working so hard on forgiveness- I’ll think I’m taking a step in the right direction then I’ll receive a text pretending like nothing is wrong and I feel upset all over again. I want to understand them and I do to a certain extent (how they were raised, what it would be like when my son leaves and cleaves to his wife, etc) I know those things will be hard but I can’t imagine anything that I wouldn’t do to be a part of my child’s life. Obviously my husband wants this to be different but he knows it can not continue down this path. It feels very hopeless. I want to do the right thing but I don’t know how to be around them (share my precious children with them) when they treat me the way they do- it’s been 13 years- I’m not sure I can ever trust them not to hurt me. I do believe both of my in laws are covert narcissist and are not capable of communicating in order to get to the heart of the problem- they pretend that nothing is wrong in hope that it will just go away. We have never raised our voice or been disrespectful (they would say we have but it would only be because we said no to something they felt entitled too) we have always been kind, delivered our messages very clearly and even coached them on what we needed to move forward but NOTHING works. My husband is so hopeful that something will change but he dreads dealing with them because they are so unreasonable. They entire family says to us “this is how they are, they aren’t going to change, how can you cut them off from the kids” We tried therapy (once) and I truly believe they only went to that because they thought the therapist would tell me I am wrong and when he didn’t we never went back. I am currently pregnant with my third child and I am very fearful that when they find out they will reach out and ruin another birth for me. I am due on Christmas Day and even if they reached out tomorrow with a heart felt apology (which I highly doubt) but if they did I do think it would help me to forgive them but I feel like reconciliation would still take a lot of time because I do not trust them not to hurt me. I don’t want to hurt my husband especially because he wants to be hopeful that they will change- with that being said he would not make me include them in the birth because of how they acted in the past. What I really struggle with is I am at total peace and anxiety free with out them- I’m not really sure I want a relationship with them- there’s just so much damage. Am I being a bad Christian? Is there anything else I can do to heal? If there is I don’t know what it is?

    1. I would honestly encourage you to see a Christian counselor about this — on your own, not with them. This is a lot to deal with and not something you’re going to find enough great advice on on the Internet. 🙁 I definitely don’t blame you for wanting to limit your contact, though!

  5. It’s good to realize that I’m not the only one that is having family issues. I’m looking for a good Christian community (be it a forum, blog, chat, whatever) where I can talk about life and issues with other Christians. I feel like I just can’t find what I’m looking for and I feel like I don’t belong anywhere in this world. I’ve always been somewhat of a loner and a very old-souled person. My family isn’t who they seemed to be my whole life and is imploding at the moment. I guess I’m looking for Christian advise and guidance but it’s too much to lay out her.

    1. Hi Jennifer! We’d love to have you come join the Equipping Godly Women Facebook page. We have some pretty good discussions over there :). As for Christian friends, are you currently attending church? Is there a women’s Bible study you could join? Or a small group?

  6. I kept telling myself that God doesn’t want me to be unhappy, which is what I’ve been in dealing with my step-daughter for the past 27 years. I finally had to cut her out of my life due to the hatefulness that surfaced during our last blow-up. Her sense of entitlement and judgemental comments were the final straw. We live in the same town and her father still interacts with her and her children, but I have nothing to do with that, and frankly, I feel a lot happier because of it. I don’t go out of my way to be hateful, and I have no problem with my husband’s involvement in their lives, my life is just better without her in it. I don’t miss her at all, in fact, I wish I’d done this sooner. Does that make me a bad Christian woman?

    1. Unfortunately, some people are just toxic and have to do what you think is best. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with that!

  7. Have you ever seen the movie The Step Mother? That is how my story is with my step children. My husband and I have a blended family and have been married since the children were in the early single digit years. I was always expected to be a mother who dropped the step, but the children were never expected to do the same. So, my side comes from where some of my children are very toxic. Where my children that I brought into the marriage calls my husband “Dad,” though he is not their biological father, the others just refer to me by my first name. I dealt with that all through out our marriage and felt like an outsider. Yet, I treated them the same as my biological children. We never talked about their other parent in front of them when we were upset with them, because we felt that divorced people should not put their child in the middle. The child usually loves both parents equally with unconditional love. I always thought we had good relationships until they were adults. After all, 2 out of three moved in with us before becoming an adult. Two of the children just want to hurt me, because they say some pretty awful things, yet they do not say this to their father. Example: “Your husband is nothing more than a sperm donor and you are his wife. You win. You can have him. I don’t want to ever see you again.” There was more to that, that was more ugly, but you get the idea. I have tried to look at it from their angle. I came into their lives after their parents were divorced, and they thought of me as an intruder. I am sure that a lot of what they felt for me and my husband came from being instilled in them from their mothers. The mothers felt we did not do enough. We paid our child support, and because my husband worked late, I would pick the girls up every other weekend, in two separate towns that consisted of a 3 1/2 hour drive. If their mothers had something to do that weekend, they didn’t let them come to the house. We never got our holidays with them, we always had to schedule ours around them. We didn’t have the money that the other parents had, so big gifts for ALL the kids came at Christmas and on birthdays. Vacations always included them or we didn’t go. My children were like set on a shelf until they came to visit. Yet, the girls felt they never got enough attention or gifts from us. They felt my biological kids were favored. The rules for my biological children were the same as for them. We raised them to know God, but though my bio children are following God, the others are not. It continued into adulthood. If we did not do things the way they wanted, they would cut us off. We were constantly apologizing for words said in arguments, and our part in it. Many times we got, “It is what it is.” The one child who called my husband a sperm donor got a divorce after 15 years of marriage. We were shocked! We didn’t even know they were having problems. She had a had a boyfriend for some time. She sent a group text to all the family letting them know it was happening. My husband told her he thought she was making a mistake and that they needed to try to work through it. All he could think about was what the girls went through as kids and didn’t want our grandchildren going through the same thing. He told her he loved her and if she needed to talk he was there. We never heard from them for months. Finally the father of our grandchildren called us and said the kids wanted to see us and he invited us to a soccer game. We wanted to handle this right because we knew she would be there, and she had cut us off over my husband telling her he thought she was making a mistake. We sought counsel and they told us, not talk about it if it was brought up. If she tried to start a fight walk away. Go with who invited you. That is when she used it as ammo to hit us. Mostly she sent me ugly text and never addressed her father. I was about to explode over the bad text but I did not say anything. I prayed. That was hard for me. Then my husband started having problems with his heart and ended up with specialists. During the hospital stays, my two children took off work to come to him. They stayed in contact by phone wanting to know what the doctor said. They would take turns being with me when he had a procedure or surgery. He never got a phone call from none of his children through all of this. He finally got a text from his daughter that I spoke of, saying, ” I wanted to say, I am sorry for any part I may have played in this. I didn’t like because you came to the soccer game with my ex husband and supported him and not me. But it is what it is.” We did not support the ex husband, he just made sure when the kids said they would like to see us, he brought them over for a visit, which was three times in 2 years. Anyway, I began to pray that our family would get back together and get past all this. I prayed we would be reunited. Well, two started trying to get together with us but would say things like, “It is going to take time to form a relationship with you again, but I am willing to try.” Then, the same old thing would start over again. I would start getting attacked. I felt like I had PTSD from my step children! I started praying, “God, I am not sure what is going on, but I am having a hard time with this.” That is when he spoke to my heart and told me I was praying wrong. I shouldn’t be praying that they be reunited with me, I needed to be praying that they be reunited with him. WOW! That was powerful to me. I never looked at it that way before. So, that is what I have been doing. At first it was hard, I won’t lie. But, even in my hardest times of praying for them, I prayed that he helped me to pray like I should. I asked him to help me to love them more and more. We have been invited to dinner at this daughter’s home with 37 other people, this includes her mother’s side of the family. I don’t know if we will go or not. Our other children will not be there. We would be the only ones from our side of the family going. My husband decided we would not go because he does not want to spend the holidays with his ex wife. Even though the children are nearing their 40’s she has felt the need to contact him and tell him what kind of bodily waste he is. I told him he should let her know that we won’t be able to make it, but would like to plan another day to get together with them. That is up to him though. I need a lot of work, as does our relationships. I told one of the other girls who also just went through a divorce after 17 years, that if she needed to talk I was here. She chuckled and said, “Yeah, I doubt that is going to happen.” So, my wanting to make a life with them, is slim to none. I need lots of prayer as do they. I do not really want to try and be around them at all. I know this is awful, but I feel like I have given it my all. Is it wrong to not want to have a relationship with them? I get physically sick if I have to go around them. I really do think I have PTSD from all this.

    1. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that! It sounds like a really tough situation and that you’ve tried so hard.

  8. Love covers all sins. Love never fails. Don’t dwell on the problems. A lot of times it’s just different perspectives – each has imperfection in a fallen world. I validate you as the victim but please don’t stay there! One thing is needful, pray to a loving Father, yes pray in tongues (this is my very first visit and I am not sure if you believe in praying in tongues) which are perfect prayers & divine love secrets uttered directly to God for all things to work together for our good in God’s amazing and effortless ways.

    Too long story to tell, I can only summarise here: I had my fair share of dysfunctional traits of abusive parent and unrepentant sibling (beaten and insulted by my elder sister who was very jealous of me the youngest for decades even in adulthood). I am so thankful to God that I got to know Him and began a journey of knowing Him and His Word, praying in tongues is the key to great transformation in my own heart – out of your heart are the issues of life. You must first guard your heart from offence and let word/ peace of God dwell richly instead. God changed me (I did not know that I had deep emotional hurts that need healing too though I was a victim), and it really surprised me. Not only did i reconcile to my decade-long estranged dad, I was instrumental to his salvation before he passed on. Now I continue to pray in tongues, and things are turning out so much better among my sibling relationships.. Not altogether there yet, but I am hopeful. With God all things are possible. Yield yourself to God. Wait patiently.

    1. Thank you so much for your story! I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with that, but glad things are improving for you. With God, all things are possible ?

  9. So grateful you talked about this subject! Long ago, I’m so very thankful I had Godly people in my life who helped me seek wise, Godly counsel! They took my to a Godly therapist who helped me get free of my traumatic childhood & learn boundaries. Just b/c someone gives birth to you doesn’t make them a mother.
    It has taken a lot of years of therapy to heal those wounds, get through to forgiveness & see things throughJesus’s eyes. I’m so grateful I am much different today & have no hate & hurt yet can stand firm in my boundaries & still pray she can get better. My bio-mother never knew my children. Yet God gave me an adopted mom around 16 who was their grandmother who showed me what a mother’s love really was & loved my children like her own grandchildren. Some people didn’t understand my choices & that’s ok. It was my life to live & I don’t regret a moment.

  10. This website is great, and I really gathered a lot of insight. I realized that I’m not the only one dealing with toxic people. My parents started living with us 7 years ago when they were forced to retirement. I have a sister who they have been sending money to, who lives in another country. My sister, my parents and I came to the US in 1989. My sister was in middle school. She cried day and night wanting to go back home to the Philippines. She had many friends and hated the idea that we left our lives there to come here and start from scratch, hoping that we’ll do better here in the US. My parents decided they’ll let her go back and live with our family there. They sent her money to support her schooling and expenses, a lot of money. My parents and I worked hard here in the US while my sister lived her life that she wanted. She wasn’t into drugs or anything like that. She basically just wanted freedom to do whatever. Now I’m married with children. My parents are becoming a very big problem to us. They still send my sister money every month, not as much as before since they’re living off their retirement and social sec, but they lie about sending my sister money on a regular basis. My parents don’t work anymore, they refuse to. They are very healthy. 84 and 79 years old. They move better than our other relatives who are sickly but move all day long. My parents stay in their room all day, they’d come out to eat, go out for a while –sometimes– and pray. They pray all day all night. Nothing wrong with that. But when my husband and I tell them they should use some of their money to move on their own, go on vacation to the Philippines, travel….something. THey won’t. They have a lot of savings. They want to win millions of dollars in the lottery so that they can move out of our house. According to them, what they have in their savings won’t be enough to supply all their needs if they moved out, or traveled, or whatever. THey are blessed with so much. Great health, financially, but they are waiting and saving money to be able to one day do what they want. I tell them all the time that GOd does want us to pray and talk to Him, but that’s not all He wants us to do. He wants us to live! My dad is a mean person, he believes he is the only one that is right. BOth of them are abusing us. I do everything in the house, I cook food for them everyday, clean their room. They give us a little bit of money every month to help but we cannot refuse that money since we are not wealthy and having a child in college plus them living with us, there’s just a lot of expenses. So we’re stuck. THey’re using that money that they’re giving us as an opportunity to say, we’re giving you money, what more do you want from us? They don’t offer to help driving my daughter to school or anything. THey do their own thing. But they won’t leave. All the good things we are teaching our children…working hard, always praying and putting their faith into practice, serving the community, being a good example….all that’s wasted because they see their grandparents doing the total opposite, except for the praying part which I believe in my heart is hypocritical. They tell us that they’re always asking God to give them money, God won’t do that in that way!! THey go to church every Sunday but their lives and how they treat us don’t reflect God’s teachings. This affects my relationship with myhusband as well. I hope God will give us a break one day and I hope it will be soon. I don’t want my family growing up and my children moving out and my parents will still be here in our home. Thanks for listening.

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