How to Deal With Judgemental & Hypocritical Family Members
Have you ever had to deal with family members of strong religious faith that have a tendency to judge every move you make? Are they quick to point out "sinful" habits that you may have, but rarely, if ever, congratulate or acknowledge your accomplishments in life? Well, I have had to cope with this situation in my lifetime and I am sure many other people have, as well. There are certain ways to handling judgmental family members, which I will share with you...based on my experience. Each of these ways have consequences, both good and bad...which I have also experienced firsthand. It is up to you to decide which is best for your peace of mind and your relationship with your family.
1. You can ignore it.
2. You can be very direct and tell them how you feel about the subject and about their judgments towards you.
3. You can ask calmly and kindly to not be badgered about certain topics.
Ignoring the Judgments
Your first option and often the option that I have chosen in awkward situations with my family members is to ignore it. I have heard every religious statement and many judgments from my family members, from "Jesus is coming back and you need to be right with him" to "why are you writing about witches?". In both of these situations, I chose to ignore the statements...which ultimately ended in me becoming quite annoyed and my husband having to take the brunt of the conversations. Sometimes it is just easiest to ignore these statements from family members but unfortunately, this is the technique that I have used pretty much my entire life when dealing with judgements from others...and to be totally honest, it is not the best approach. I ended up feeling like an ostrich with my head stuck in the sand. It is like I hear what's going on around me and how these people truly feel about me and I just want it to disappear without confronting the problem...which means that these judgements will indefinitely never go away if you do not face them head on. This brings me to the next option in tolerating judgemental family members...to be upfront and direct with your judgemental family members.
Being Totally Direct
Next to ignoring the judgements of others, being honest and direct about how you feel and where your beliefs stand is another way to handle a situation in which you are being judged or questioned. There are pros and cons to this method of toleration.
The pros of being upfront and honest with judgmental kin are that you probably will not be bugged again about the same subject for awhile and that you will make your beliefs and emotions loud and clear. There are also cons...such as hurt feelings, more judging, and possible blocks in relationships. It really depends greatly on how direct and honest you are...for instance, if you tell that person who is judging you, "I do not really care about what you believe, so please stop asking me to". Maybe a better way of being direct could go something like this, "I understand you want to help me, but can we please move on to a different topic. I do not want to discuss this any further." While that statement is still pretty blunt, it is a little less likely to hurt your family's feelings and cause blockages in that relationship. Being direct and upfront with others is something that I find to be an admirable quality in people. I hope to one day emulate the directness but with a little bit of kindness...which leads me to the last and most appropriate option...being calm and kind in your response to judgement.
The Calm Yet Stern Way to Handle the Judgements
In my personal experience with these uncomfortable family situations, the best skill in handling the judgements from others is ultimately to acknowledge the person's feelings but calmly explain to them how this conversation makes you feel awkward and that you do not prefer to continue the conversation, without hurting their feelings in return. This approach takes a lot of practice and thought beforehand. If you are anything like me, you have a hard time being polite and stern at the same time. I tend to come off too direct and rude...so I can openly admit that I need practice in this area of communication.
However, once you have mastered the art of communicating politely, yet sternly, you are probably more than ready to handle a situation with a family member in which they judge or preach to you. For instance, if a family member says to you, "You should really start going to a good church", you can politely respond with, "Thank you for the suggestion and I appreciate the fact that you care; however, I am not ready to go to church at this point in time. When I am ready, I will go."
Another example of how to be calm and stern: your family member says to you, "You should not be drinking...God is against it and it is in the Bible." You could respond by saying, "I am aware what the Bible says and I will take into consideration what you are suggesting." This response displays that you are thankful for their concern but that you also are aware of what you are doing in life.
A Conclusive Phrase
I heard a phrase just recently that I found to be very true and a great analogy:
"Religion is like a man's reproductive organ. It is great that you have it, but it's not necessarily the best thing to take out in public and most people don't want it shoved down their throats!"
© 2011 Nicole Canfield