Taken Advantage of By Family Members
My good friend has a problem. A serious problem. Not only is she a stay at home mother to her own children, but her extended family members are constantly calling her up to help them with every little thing. If they need cupcakes for a birthday party, they call her (because she is an awesome baker). If someone is going away on vacation, they ask her to house sit. If they have an upcoming event, they call on her to help put things together. If a kid in the family needs watching…you guessed it, they call her.
Sadly, my friend is not alone. She has a hard time saying no, and is extremely close to her family. Of course, she WANTS to help as much as possible, but often this helping out others and constantly being the go-to on-call person leaves her own life more stressful and at times empty.
Just recently, while she was already caring for her own sick mother, a family member called and asked her if she could take on yet another sick senior so that they could go away on vacation. Keep in mind, not only does she have children, but she is also watching her best friend’s child on a daily basis. Plus her mom. This time, she had the courage to say no. In truth, she wouldn’t have been able to handle nursing two ill seniors, watching an infant, and tending to her own family.
The reality is that family is supposed to be the ones who care about us the most, but they can also be the ones to take advantage of us the most. And if you are a YES person – because you feel guilty saying NO, those in your extended family pick up on this personality trait pretty quickly.
Likewise, there are plenty of grown sons and daughters who are constantly taking advantage of their own parents to watch the grandkids. And of course, grandma and grandpa love having the kids, despite the fact that long watches and extended babysitting periods are often exhausting. Yet so many find it nearly impossible to say NO! Is it fair for us as parents to constantly rely on our aging parents to care for our kids each and every time we want a day off, cannot get off work, or need a babysitter? Especially when we know that the grandparents, so in love with their grandchildren, will set aside their own needs, time, and responsibilities to do so NO MATTER WHAT?
Is it fair to constantly ask one member of the family for favors, without ever reciprocating?
If you are THAT person that everyone seems to dump their problems on in the hopes that you will come up with the quick fix, then you need to learn to say no. You need to learn to prioritize your own life, and make sure that you will remain able to take care of yourself and your family – before taking on a laundry list of others duties. While it is noble, kindhearted, and admirable that you are always willing to help, you have to ask yourself if the cost to your own well-being is truly worth it. If you upset a few people in the process, then that is really on them. If they stop speaking to you, then obviously, you were being used all along, which doesn't say much about their respect for the word family.
And if you are one of those people who think everyone else should come to your rescue and help you with your kids or your responsibilities – then shame on you!
In every family, there have to be boundaries. And most importantly, there has to be respect, which means that no one person’s problems are bigger and more important than anyone else's. It is up to each of us to set boundaries with our families, as well as respect the boundaries (even if they go unsaid) of the people that we love.
Do you know someone who takes advantage of family members? How do you tactfully deal with the situation?
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