Signs Your Family Doesn’t Care For You as They Should & How to Deal With It

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
How to tell when your family may be neglectful and doesn't have your best interests at heart Has your family's behavior left you wondering whether they even care about you? Feeling like the "black sheep" of the family can be very painful,...
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Has your family’s behavior left you wondering whether they even care about you? Feeling like the “black sheep” of the family can be very painful, especially if you don’t understand why, but you can still take steps to improve your situation. In this article, we’ll cover all the signs that your family might not care for you the way you want them to and the reasons why it might be happening. We’ll also help you figure out how to deal with problematic family members and prioritize your well-being, whether you’re a minor who still lives with them or an adult who may or may not have moved out.

Things You Should Know

  • If your family doesn’t care about you, they might not make an effort to contact you—even when there’s important family news.
  • Your family might rely on you for help but be completely unreliable in return. They might also criticize you often or blame you when things go wrong.
  • Deal with toxic family members by setting boundaries and refusing to play the victim. Let them know which behaviors you won't tolerate going forward.
Section 1 of 3:

Signs Your Family Doesn't Care For You

  1. Step 1 They never contact you, and you’re always the one to reach out.
    All families have different communication styles, and your level of contact with a family member depends heavily on your relationship. In other words, it’s very normal to talk once a week with some relatives and once every few months with others. However, if your family never, ever reaches out to you, it might be a sign of neglect on their part.[1]
    • Think about their attitude when you do contact them, too. Do they seem annoyed, like even a short phone call is an inconvenience? Do they make excuses after only a few minutes, claiming they have something else to do?
    • If they make no effort to contact you and avoid engaging with you when you’re the one to reach out, that may be another red flag.
  2. Step 2 They ask for favors but don’t ever repay them.
    Does your family mainly contact you when they want something? If you have a family that doesn't care for you the way they should, you might find that they only make time for you on their terms and never yours. They might ask for favors, from manual labor to money, but rarely thank you for your efforts or return the favor in any way.[2]
    • You might also find that you can’t rely on them for help either. They might expect you to drop everything when they need a hand with something, but be unwilling to do the same when you’re the one who needs a favor.
  3. Step 3 They neglect your needs and consistently let you down.
    A caring family should ensure that your needs are met, whether that means giving you a ride to the dentist or making sure there’s food in the fridge for you to snack on when you get home from school. On the other hand, if they’re always dropping the ball and letting you down, it might mean they aren’t prioritizing your needs the way they should.[3]
    • For example, they might fail to remember your birthday or bail on picking you up from work even though they know you don’t have another ride.
    • It’s possible that family members who let you down by disregarding your needs may not understand how harmful their actions are, or they may not have your best interests at heart.
  4. Step 4 They don’t invite you to family events that everyone else goes to.
    Some families host events that all relatives are expected to be part of—events like birthdays, holidays, weddings, and so on. Has your family suddenly stopped extending you an invitation? If they keep on inviting everyone else but fail to invite you (and won’t even explain why), they might be distancing themselves from you.[4]
    • Reader Poll: We asked 938 wikiHow readers, and 64% of them agreed that a common sign that your family doesn’t care about you is by avoiding spending time with you. [Take Poll]
  5. Step 5 They say nasty things about you to your face and behind your back.
    When a family member has no concern for you, they may even resort to badmouthing you to other people, whether you can hear it or not. They might gossip about you when you’re not there or go right ahead and share private details about your life (including embarrassing or unhappy stories) while you’re still present.[5]
    • Furthermore, if you ask them to stop talking about you like that, they might simply tell you that you’re being too sensitive or ask you why you can’t just take a joke.
    • If they do apologize for badmouthing you, it might still sound insincere. For example, they might say, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” instead of actually owning up to what they did.
  6. Step 6 You’re the last person to find out about important news in the family.
    Whether someone is having a baby or a relative passes away, sometimes things happen that matter to everyone in the family. Do you find out about big news in a timely manner, or are you usually the last to know? If your family fails to tell you important news, it can easily make you feel like they don’t care about you.[6]
    • You may end up discovering the news indirectly—through a Facebook post or a friend of the family—rather than from a family member as well. This also indicates that you’re not being kept well-informed.
  7. Step 7 They break their promises, often at the very last minute.
    Do you find yourself making plans with them only for them to cancel right before it’s time to go? Alternatively, do they promise you something—like $50 for mowing the lawn—and then break that promise once you’re done? If they refuse to follow through on their commitments to you, it may mean that they don't value your relationship.[7]
    • Remember: life happens. It’s normal for someone to cancel on you now and then, even a family member—but if it happens every time you make plans, they might be doing it on purpose.
    • You may also notice that their promises have conditions. For example, if you mowed the lawn for them, they might claim you didn’t do a good job, so they don’t have to pay you—but really, they don’t want to keep their word.
  8. Step 8 Your best doesn’t feel good enough because they’re so critical of you.
    A family that may not care about you will look for ways to belittle your accomplishments rather than praise you for them, making you feel like nothing you do will make them proud of you. They may even criticize you regularly, to the point that everything they say feels judgmental and negative.[8]
    • A critical family could remark on anything from your clothing to the decorations in your home.
    • You might even find yourself bracing before they speak because you’re expecting something negative or putting off spending time with them because you know they’ll find something to criticize.
  9. Step 9 They never ask about your life or how you’re doing.
    When you’re around your family, do they ever show interest in you? Relatives that care will ask how you’re doing, what you’re up to, and even look for updates on your career, partner, and so on. There may be a problem if your family never asks you about yourself and instead only talks about themselves.[9]
    • People naturally find it easier to talk about themselves, so don’t take it the wrong way if you have a couple of one-sided conversations with family members here and there.
    • However, if they repeatedly show no interest in your life every time you see them, that could be a sign of their indifference.
  10. Step 10 They don’t take you seriously or consider your opinions.
    Do you try to tell them about a problem that’s bothering you, only for them to shrug it off or tell you that you’re overreacting? Or does it feel like they disapprove of every single opinion you voice? If your family doesn’t care, they might try to undermine your opinions and mock your concerns to make you feel unimportant.[10]
    • For example, after telling a family member about something upsetting, they might say, “You think that’s bad? Please,” and then vent about their own problems instead.
    • Similarly, they might tell you you’re wrong about everything, from your political views to your favorite movie, to make you feel unsure of yourself.
    • Plus, if you express to them how their neglect is hurting you, you may only be either laughed at or completely ignored.
  11. Step 11 They don’t respect your boundaries and invade your privacy.
    When a family doesn’t respect your boundaries, that could mean anything from coming over to your place totally unannounced to reading your emails or going into your room without knocking. Essentially, they’re violating boundaries if they do things that make you uncomfortable even after you’ve told them to stop.[11]
    • If they really have no concern for you, they probably won’t understand why you’re upset over their lack of boundaries, either.
    • They might even say you’re being overdramatic or that you shouldn’t keep secrets from them (even if you’re just going about your life) if you confront them.
  12. Step 12 You get blamed for anything that goes wrong.
    When something happens, are you the family’s scapegoat even if it was entirely out of your control? Whether or not their logic makes sense, a family that doesn’t value you the way they should might pin all the blame for their problems on you, simply because it’s easier than actually tackling their problems head-on.[12]
  13. Step 13 They undermine your happiness and sabotage your success.
    Does it feel like your family will find any excuse to make a good day feel worse? They might always find something to complain about or criticize when you have good news to take the wind out of your sails. If you're on the verge of big success, they might even sabotage you by refusing to help you out when you need it.[13]
    • For example, if you graduated college and felt super proud of yourself (as you should!), they might complain that you should’ve majored in something else, or that your degree wasn’t worth that much money.
    • If you’re about to start your dream job, they might try to sabotage you by agreeing to give you a ride to work and then bailing at the last minute so you’re late on the first day.
  14. Step 14 They try to control your behavior and get you to do what they want.
    If you live with your family, they might adopt an “live under our roof, live by our rules” policy to control you, and give you the silent treatment if you express any discomfort. On the other hand, if you don’t live with them, they might try to guilt-trip you into doing what they want from afar and get upset the minute their manipulation doesn’t seem to be working.[14]
    • Unfortunately, a family trying to control you might even stoop so low as to threaten you if it seems like you’re resisting. They might threaten to stop supporting you financially, for example.
    • They may also try gaslighting you as part of their manipulation, which essentially means treating you badly and then insisting that they didn’t actually do anything, and that you’re making things up.
    • Gaslighting can make a person think they’re being “crazy” or unreasonable even when they’re just standing up for themselves, because the person (or people) gaslighting them is distorting and undermining their point of view.
  15. Step 15 You feel unsafe being your true self around them.
    Do you feel like your family would reject you if they knew who you really are? On the other hand, have you tried being yourself around your family and been told firsthand to fall back in line? Often, if a family can’t let go of the version of you they had imagined, they become angry, manipulative, and even abusive when you try to be your own person.[15]
    • “Being yourself” can mean anything from wanting to study art in college when they wanted you to study business to being transgender and picking a name that better suits you.
    • A family that doesn’t accept you for who you are might refuse to support you if you go ahead with studying art, or continue to deadname you (using your former name) even though you told them the new name you chose for yourself.
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Section 2 of 3:

Why Your Family Seems Uncaring

  1. Step 1 Their communication style might clash with yours.
    Even when a family exhibits a few of the signs above, it doesn’t automatically mean they don’t care about you. Communication isn’t easy; issues can arise if you don’t understand one another’s communication style. Your family might be showing you that they care in their own way, but because you communicate differently, you might not be picking up on their signals.[16]
    • For example, a critical parent might say, “I wish you’d get better grades,” when they mean, “I just want the best for you.”
    • This doesn’t excuse the damage their critical words can do, but it does mean you could consider working things out with them before assuming they don’t care.
  2. Step 2 You and your family may simply be very different people.
    Sometimes, people with different personalities don’t get along as well as they’d like to—and this could be the case with you and your family. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care; they might not understand how to relate to you, your lifestyle, or the things you like, and your relationship might suffer because of that.[17]
    • For example, if you have different political leanings, it can create a disconnect between you and leave your family unsure how to relate to you.
    • Again, having different personalities doesn’t excuse harmful behavior. Your feelings toward your family are valid. Still, knowing this can help you figure out the best way to move forward, with or without your family.
  3. Step 3 They might be dealing with issues that have nothing to do with you.
    Whether they’re battling financial troubles, addiction, or some other problem beyond your control, hardships can leave your family members unable to support you the way they should. They might still care in some way, but might also be so wrapped up in their own problems that your relationship deteriorates as a result.[18]
    • Keep in mind that these issues—and your family’s reaction to them—are in no way your fault. You don’t deserve to suffer just because they’re suffering.
  4. Step 4 They may be self-centered or even have narcissistic tendencies.
    In some cases, family members really are so self-centered that they care for themselves (or particular people) more than they might care for you. When you’re dealing with a narcissist, for example, you’ll sometimes find that they treat some family members with disrespect and indifference while seeming to value others.[19]
    • You may even find that a single controlling and manipulative family member is calling most of the shots, while the others follow their lead—even if they care for you but are too afraid to show it.
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Section 3 of 3:

Handling Problematic Family Members

  1. Step 1 Acknowledge your feelings without comparing your family to others.
    As much as you might wish things were different, you can’t ignore how your family treats you and how that makes you feel. Denying your feelings or wishing your family were like other families won’t change the way things are—it’ll only make you feel worse. Instead, accept your situation so that you can heal and move forward in time.[20]
    • It’s also important to acknowledge your family’s destructive actions. Recognizing them is the first step to ultimately distancing yourself and escaping from the toxic behavior.
  2. Step 2 Invest as much time and energy in your family as you feel they deserve.
    Before you start a dialogue with your family or try to make changes to your relationship with them, decide exactly how much time and effort that relationship is worth to you. You might decide you’re willing to exert a lot of energy and effort to try and build a healthier relationship with them—but, if you aren’t willing to do that, it’s better to know now.[21]
    • If you decide to devote your energy toward mending bridges with your family, remember that you can extend a hand, but they still have to make the choice to take it.
    • On the other hand, you might decide that your relationship with your family isn’t worth any more time or energy, and that’s okay too. If that’s the case, it might be time to go low contact with them or cut contact entirely.
  3. Step 3 Tell your family members how their behavior makes you feel.
    Before you write them off entirely, it might help to tell your family how you feel. You’re certainly not obligated to do so if you feel it would be safer to simply cut ties, but if you want, try to help them see how their behavior is harmful to you. Knowing their behavior is toxic may encourage your family to make some changes in their lives.[22]
    • For example, if you feel excluded by your family, tell them so, You might say something like, “When I was the last to know about Aunt Margaret’s diagnosis, it made me feel upset and guilty, even though I had no control over it.”
    • Try to keep things neutral rather than directly blaming them for anything. Use “I” statements that focus on your feelings rather than their actions to help create an open conversation.
  4. Step 4 Set healthy boundaries with your family and keep to them.
    Establish clear boundaries between behavior that is acceptable and behavior you won't tolerate. Tell your family that you will not let them victimize you anymore, and you won’t accept any more bad behavior from them. Then, enforce those boundaries. If they keep acting out, follow through with your consequences, whether that means distancing yourself or walking away entirely.[23]
    • For example, you might say, “I am not okay with sudden visits to my apartment with no warning. Please call ahead and give me at least a few hours, or I won’t answer the door.”
    • On the other hand, if you feel excluded by your family, you could say something like, “Please tell me when there’s a family event, even if you think I’ll be too busy to go. I’d rather know about it and try to make it work if I can.”
    • By refusing to be a victim of your family’s toxicity anymore, you’re essentially taking away the power they have over you. They can still act out and behave badly, but you don’t have to sit there and take it.
  5. Step 5 Take initiative and build the relationship you want to have with them.
    If you feel something is lacking in your familial relationships—whether there’s not a lot of contact between you, or you don’t spend much time together in person—you can always lead by example rather than waiting for a change. Let your family know what you want, and then put energy into making it happen.[24]
    • For example, you might feel like your mom never calls you. So, if you want to talk to her once a week, block out a time on your calendar to do so—don’t wait for her to do it.
    • Of course, building a relationship is only possible if your family is receptive to it. If you make an effort to call and your mom won’t pick up, for example, it’s up to you whether you want to keep trying.
  6. Step 6 Build a strong support system of friends and found family.
    The truth is, the family you’re born with isn’t the only one you’ll have in your life. There’s also your chosen family: friends you’ve come to love, respect, and trust more than anybody else. Find the people in your life—friends, and possibly their families—who will stand by you no matter what and give you the love and respect you deserve.[25]
    • If you feel excluded by your family, spending time with your support system (or chosen family) rather than biological relatives can help you overcome feelings of rejection and show you how loved you really are.
    • Chosen family is even more sacred than biological family for many people, as a chosen family is not bonded by obligation or DNA, but by sincere care and devotion.
  7. Step 7 Focus on self-care as you move forward with your life.
    Practicing self-care is incredibly important, especially if your family can’t give you the care you need and deserve. As you navigate difficult relationships with your family, make time each day for activities that will make you feel better, both mentally and physically. This could include exercise, eating healthy, and spending time on hobbies that bring you joy.[26]
    • Identify a few hobbies that you’d like to spend more time on and make an effort to do so! You could learn to paint, plant a garden, knit, or set a goal to read a book every week.
    • It takes time to heal after leaving a toxic environment, so don’t despair if things don’t feel better right away. Be kind to yourself, and in time, you’ll start feeling better.
  8. Step 8 Talk to a therapist about your family troubles for additional support.
    Therapy can be an incredibly useful tool to help you process and overcome the pain of dealing with toxic family members. Whether you want to mend your relationships with them or walk away for good, choose a therapist who can help you figure out what’s healthy for you and give you support as you navigate those changes.[27]
    • If you have health insurance, you could consult your provider directory to find a therapist. Otherwise, online platforms like BetterHelp and Talkspace often offer services on a sliding scale.
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