How to Deal with Toxic Family Members


Many of us have them, toxic family members. So how do we deal with them from a Biblical standpoint? Let's explore.


Allow me to start by sharing that no one’s family is perfect.

No matter what someone’s family dynamic looks like on the outside or in pictures, no one has the perfect family. After all, we’re human, and as sinners, it’s to be expected that struggle or turmoil will creep up from time to time, or, perhaps, all the time (in some cases).

So, are you one of the many who struggle with how to cope with toxic family members, but you want to do so in a biblical manner?

As a believer, you more than likely want to do the right thing, but maybe you’re unsure what the “right thing” is in a situation such as dealing with a toxic relative. Sadly, lifting the situation in prayer or constantly forgiving that person may continue to lead to a broken road. Worse, you may start to feel taken advantage of, angry or further confused.

Our Lord and Savior encourages love, kindness and forgiveness, but He does not believe you should be a doormat in the process.

Despite these toxic situations and circumstances, there is hope for dealing with toxic relatives!

In fact, there’s always hope, thanks be to God, and hope rests in the fact that you cannot control anyone, only yourself. In knowing this, you can begin to enter a space that no longer involves mistreatment and, hopefully, improve your situation, too.

When dealing with a toxic person, especially when that person is a family member, the situation becomes twice as sticky because it seems much harder to deal with manipulative tactics, uncomfortable conversations and so forth.

This is where boundaries come into play, but first, you must know and believe that the Bible encourages boundaries! Our Lord and Savior encourages love, kindness and forgiveness, but He does not believe you should be a doormat in the process.

Setting boundaries may seem easy, but setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is no simple feat. Often, we let people cross those boundaries, or we lack the understanding of knowing how to set boundaries in the first place.

Setting boundaries involves self-discipline, and a life of discipline is pleasing to God.

“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matthew 5:37).

Enforcing boundaries may seem harsh or hurtful, but proper boundaries provide peace. Maybe you will decide to speak or visit a particular relative only during certain times a year or not at all. Maybe you become more vocal about no longer lending money or exercising more discernment when choosing to lend financial assistance. Perhaps you decide, once and for all, to stand up for yourself if your relative picks on you, no longer laughing it off or ignoring their mistreatment. Whatever your boundaries may be, you must create these rules for yourself, stick to them and throw your guilt to the wind.

Initially, setting boundaries feel uncomfortable, maybe even wrong, but with time and prayer, you will stick with it and change the narrative of your once-toxic situation. As you set boundaries and couple those boundaries with prayer, He will lead you to peace and freedom.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

We serve a God that can move mountains. Nothing is impossible through our Lord and Savior. Remember, you cannot change anyone, but you can take steps to change your situation, starting from the way you act and react to toxicity. I pray that you find the strength and courage to establish and maintain boundaries, and I pray that the Lord protects from you the harm of toxic relatives. After all, you deserve a life of happiness.