It’s said that you can choose your friends, but not your family.


And that’s why as many as 17% of adult Australians are estranged from a family member – most commonly a sibling.


Another study found that at least one adult child in every ten families is estranged from the mother.


It’s clear that if you’ve found yourself struggling with a family member, you’re not alone.


How is the Relationship Affecting You?


Many people cling on to a family relationship, even when it is having a detrimental effect on them. For example, they might experience feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or being completely drained; sleep difficulties; pounding heart; and an upset stomach; as a result of their dealings with the other.


If you decide to allow the relationship to continue, it will require trying out new strategies to help you cope, such as:

  • Exploring different ways of communicating;
  • developing better boundaries;
  • or decreasing contact.


It will take hard work – but ending a relationship can be even more difficult. This is usually because others – and society in general - have expectations that you should remain in that person’s circle of support.


However, sometimes choosing to cease contact is sometimes the best decision you can make for your mental and physical health.


Choosing to Cease Contact


There are a couple of tell-tale signs of a toxic relationship.


  1. The first is when a person has been violent towards you, and you’ve feared injury or death (eg assault, sexual abuse). It is reasonable you won’t trust that person, as your brain will activate “fear” instead of love for genuinely important reasons. Fear prevents you bonding with a predator because you are at risk.


  1. Another sign is when the family member is unable to reciprocate mutual support and you believe that this will never change. Healthy relationships involve two-way communication and support. Even babies and toddlers reciprocate love! If an adult is unable to provide you with reciprocal support - possibly due to addiction or mental illness – then this is a very unhealthy relationship.


Whether you decide to continue the relationship with your family member, or that you need a time-out, it’s important that you get support through this difficult time.


While other family members and friends may be able to help, often they are embroiled in the situation too. Seeking support from a psychologist is an excellent idea, as they can help you sort through what is really going on in the relationship – and how you would like to handle it in future.


Finally, when you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has a story. Everyone has gone through things that you know nothing about. So please don’t judge them if you learn they are estranged from a family member. Chances are it is a heavy enough burden for them already.

Author's Bio: 

Janet Camilleri loves writing for the web. In addition to her work in content marketing, she also blogs as the Middle Aged Mama, about learning to fashion a new life now that her kids are all grown up. No matter what she writes, or who she is writing for, Janet aims to amuse, inspire or inform - and sometimes, all three!