Family Trouble! Dealing with Difficult People

“It just never works to be in contact with my mother,” said my client as she started our session, wiping away tears. “I don’t want to cut her out of my life completely, but I can’t keep going back to be sniped at again and again.”

This client and I had already strategized ways to talk to mother assertively, addressing the hurtful comments, to no avail. Her mother flatly refused to admit fault or change her behavior.

Our next step was to set strong boundaries of self- protection in specific ways. Here’s a list of ways to do just that. If you have a difficult person in YOUR family, ask yourself:

  • Do I want to limit phone calls? Yes/no
  • If yes, how many per week/month/year? _________per _________________________
  • Do I want to limit time of day I answer the phone?  Yes/no
  • If so, what are my limits? __________________________________________________
  • Do I want to limit the amount of time we talk? Yes/no
  • If so, what’s the limit? _____________________________________________________
  • Do I want to limit time we spend face to face?  Yes/no
  • If so, what’s that going to look like? __________________________________________
  • Do I want to remove myself when they are inebriated or otherwise inappropriate? Yes/no
  • Do I want to acknowledge birthdays and holidays?  Yes/no
  • If so, how?       Card          phone call               visit with others present                 visit alone
  • Other ways to protect myself: ______________________________________________________________________________

Let’s discuss your answers in our next session. Together we CAN find ways to protect YOU.

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