Brent Riggs – Dealing With Bad Family

A reader sent in this question: There is an angry and immature person who is part of my extended family. Not only is this person hateful and argumentative, he has spread dangerous lies about my family. Specifically, he says that my husband has done something inappropriate. There is no truth to this and the rest of the family knows it, but I’m wondering how to handle this situation, given that the holidays are quickly approaching and we have family events planned. To be honest, I don’t want to be around him, nor do I want my family to be around him. Is that an unchristian attitude? Could you please give me some advice?

You have every right to choose the people who can be around your family in a private situation in your own �territory� (i.e. your home, your events, etc.).

Remember that you do not have the right to force your personal convictions regarding other family members on those outside of your home. You may choose not to attend an event at their house or at another place where that person will be in attendance, but you should refrain from telling others who they can or cannot invite.

In addition, you should not feel the need to inform the rest of the family why you have declined an invitation unless they specifically ask. Then, you should explain in a non-gossipy, uncritical manner what the situation is. �We are not going to attend due to the situation between us and (the other family member).�

Because of the seriousness of the accusation against your husband, it is important that if you do attend the family function, do not let anyone in your family be alone with that person. Don’t give credibility to the accusations. Without evidence or the collaboration of witnesses, it is just talk. Hurtful, but just talk.

Your attitude would only be “unChristian” if you were to withhold forgiveness. Otherwise, you do what you can to keep peace, keep things from escalating BUT protecting your family.

Remember, as a Christian, your marriage and your kids come first.

Go to Thanksgiving. Go to the holiday events. Act like everything is fine in the mindset of the public setting. If this family member makes an effort, then reciprocate, BUT BE CAREFUL and discerning. Often people use any sign of reconciliation as a ploy to start things up again.

DO NOT talk to others in your family about the family member in question. This is big temptation you need to stop, or avoid, whichever is the case. There is nothing good about getting everyone on “your side” or spreading around the “news” of this bad behavior under the guise of being “concerned”. That would be gossip, plain and simple.

Ultra-immature and childish members of the extended family can be quite maddening, but they don’t have to have power over you. YOU dictate the interaction with your family on YOUR turf, but you can only carefully manage the situation outside your own environment, like at this Thanksgiving event.

Again, don’t try to force other family members to side with you. The truth is obvious and people can see it. Troublemakers and liars rarely have family members fooled. It would not be fair to ask your other family members to abide by your convictions. Your options are to not attend or to hold an event at your home, without inviting the offending family member.

To boil it down, here is my advice � if you choose to allow the family member to come to your home, make sure it is with the understanding that there must be no fighting. No angry outbursts will be allowed. If that occurs, he will be asked to leave. Remember not to allow your immediate family to be alone with him. Attend the other family events, but inform the hostess that if the offender creates a scene, you will immediately leave the party.