Falling Out with Family

I’m in a mess of a situation that has my “family of origin” turned against me, except for one brother that still speaks to me.

How do you deal with the pain involved in a situation in which your parents refuse to acknowlege you? They visit other family members within a mile of where I live, but do not call to let me know they are in the area. I believe I am being “punished” for percieved wrongs I have committed against one family member, who seems to control access to my parents and influence their opinions to the extent that they believe what I have done is wrong.

I am a new Catholic, I was protestant all my life until Easter 2006.

The falling out was over money, as you may have suspected. I can give more details if anyone is truly interested in helping me navigate this minefield!


That’s a tough situation. I feel for you. Unfortunatley the reality of the situation is is that you can’t make people love you or show proper attention/affection.

Be steady my friend. Pray for them. Perhaps bring up your feelings in a charitable way if they’re receptive. That might not change things. Offer the hurt you feel to God. Don’t respond with anger and remember that Christ and many of his Saints went through situations like this. You’re in good company. :thumbsup:

I think alot of us on these forums could tell you stories of a similiar nature that would make your head spin and head for the nearest monastery/cloister post haste.

My immediate family is to a great degree segregated from the rest of my family (both sides) for various reasons, although things have gotten better over the years it took along time before things to become that way. Only one of my uncle’s was accepting and kind to my immediate family. My parents simply started their own family unto themselves. We still visit our relatives and such, and after 30 years, some of their hearts have thawed abit. For the most part we are our own family and the rest of our relatives are just distant family that you see every once in awhile.

If your family wishes to ostracize you for something you didn’t do then let it be. That is not to say that you can’t send them birthday cards and such but simply that if they want nothing to do with you let them be and concentrate on your immediate family instead. Tkae care of your husband/wife and children and let the rest of your familiy do what they do. It is sometimes a waste of breath to try and explain what actualy happened and even then people won’t believe you or arn’t listening.

However, just because you don’t see them does not mean you can’t be constantly inproving the relationship. It took my mother over 30 years to get my dad’s familiy to somewhat accept her. She sends every nephew and niece handmade birthday cards and first communion cards etc. And she has for years. This small gesture of keeping track of all their birthdays and sepcial events has helped soften my dad’s family. Not to say that this was my mom’s only intention but rather to say that simple gestures consistently done over a long period of time may help to mend the fence.

When Christmas time comes, mail your presents and send your cards to them. Make sure to include the kids as well and even your sibiling who has been less generous towards you. You don’t have to get them anything fancy or special or write anything about the matter that has come between you. Simply put Merry Christmas, and the whole “love…so and so…”

Don’t forget the birthday cards for the nephews and neices and the special occasions. My mom uses a special calander to keep track and then she goes to the craft stores and grabs stuff to custom make the cards with stickers and some of the other cool stuff they have to offer. Cards with 3D stuff glued to them like scooby do or baseball players and stuff really impress the little kids. But ultimately it is the effort and love that she put into those things for so many years that has born fruit.

Keep being who you are, keep praying for them. Your parents may come around and finally listen but in the mean time be a family unto your own.

pax tecum

I could write page after page on this topic, but they would just be commiserating with you and not get you anywhere in the long run. Needless to say, I have had some of the same experiences you have had. In the end, you have to decide whether it is worth the fight to be “right.” Now, I don’t know all your particulars, but here are some things to think about…

It seems that one sibling is the “spokesperson” to your parents… why? What would happen if you called up mom on the phone and invited just her to lunch? Or dad? Would you then have your say? Would you trash your sibling as he/she did you or would you ignore the problem? Perhaps you would see it as a captive audience and tell your side… but in the end, ask yourself what you expect to happen. On the other hand, is all this worth the fight? You have to get your heart in the right place before you ever make any action!

I have a sister that has spent a lifetime trashing me to my mom. The best thing I ever did was stop trying to make her like me… it wasn’t going to happen anyway. My mother doesn’t speak to me except on holidays when we call her to say happy holidays… I am very happy with that now. At one point I wasn’t and I thought mom should know both sides of the story with my sister and I… but she wasn’t interested. She wants to believe my sister, so she does… My sister and I do not speak… a year ago we had an email war when I extended myself to try to get along.

Now my sister, mom and one brother are a group… and my other sister, me and my youngest brother are another. It is sad, but we all got sick of being verbally and emotionally beat up on. I bet this sounds really familiar about now… but truly, that is all I want to say about my situation…

What really made the decision easier is that I have children to think about. Is it good for them to see their mom put down at family gatherings… or the kids ignored because my mean sisters kids get all grandmom’s attention? No kidding, my sweet sister was at mom’s house for 2 hours for a holiday gathering and nobody had said a word to her or her kids… so she rose to leave and all of a sudden my mom said, “I haven’t had a chance to spend any time with the grandkids”… well they were there, grandma was just too busy with the other grandkids… thankfully, I live 15 hours away so I am not required to be there!

For sweet sister and I it was a no brainer… we couldn’t look at our kids sit there and be ignored. So now we have a policy of seeing mom separate from mean sister and brother. It was a little more difficult for our baby brother since he didn’t have kids to see how the behavior affected them. He tried to get along with everybody… just like we did, but in the end, he had to get away for his sanity.

We believe that mom, one sister and one brother are afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder. It doesn’t make it any easier to deal with them knowing that, but at least we have support groups online. It has been hard saying no to the kids about driving out there for a visit, but what is the point? Last time we went out each of the sick sibs had to do something to get the attention back because they were worried that mom would pay too much attention to me and my kids. My brother proposed to his now wife the day before we got there… his way of excluding me… my mean sister told my son (then 12 yo) I would never have what she has because I have no job skills (Psst… I am director of Info Technology, she is a manager of transportation for a pharmaceutical company where she started as a secretary right out of high school.)

I try to keep exposure to a minimum without totally cutting myself off from them because I want my kids to know their relatives, but I don’t want them to go through what I have with them. Sooner or later you will have to make a choice about what to do about them… save yourself some heartbreak and be cordial when you have to see them, but don’t plan your life around them. Pray for them, but don’t expect them to be like a story book family… chances are, they have no clue how to be one. If you have children… pray together with them for your family…

That’s about all I have…

Hi Marybell, I am assuming you are married. If not, mary a good catholic man. If you are, have a child because your Mom will want to visit her grand child. If she does not come around, keep sending her pictures of her grand children. Anotherwards, use that mother’s instinct, desires to heal the rift between you and your parents.

How much money is your family worth to you? Get somebody to mediate your money problems, even if it means you may be set back some. Then try to heal the rift.

I agree. You know they say there is only one way to get more new priests.
Be one or give birth to one.
Since, you cant be one OP- get busy on the other part.:smiley:

Don’t fret! Remember, whatever you ask of the Father he will deliver to you according to his plan.

I have three suggestions for you from the prayer side:

Consecrate yourself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, if you haven’t already. One of the promises of the devotion is the establishment of peace in families. I can tell you it’s worked wonders in mine, ever since I brought a picture of the Sacred Heart into our house. Not everything’s hunky-dory – don’t get me wrong – but the healing that has come about has been tremendous.

If possible, attend First Friday Mass, which is a special celebration of the Sacred Heart of our Lord. Offer it for the intention of peace in your family.

Pray to the Holy Family. Contemplating the lives of Joseph as father, Mary as mother, and Jesus as a child has always been efficacious in bringing about growth in holiness specifically related to the family.

Pax Christi.

Thank you all for the kind words and replies.

I am already married to a “good Catholic man”, who is the one responsible for bringing me into the church along with my teenage son.

As far as having any babies, that ship has sailed - not gonna happen! LOL! I’m 46 and my husband is 60, we’re ready for the grandparent stage now. My oldest son is 21.

It is good to hear so much of what I have gone through reflected here by others. I don’t feel quite so alone in all of this.

I liked the suggestion about having the money problems mediated, I have thought about that but it wouldn’t help in the long run. I ended up having to put my sister on my bankruptcy because she sued me for money I was going to have in a year or so. She decided she couldn’t wait, so she sued me. I had to protect myself. I have told my parents the truth about that, they were told that I filed bankruptcy to avoid paying her back which is not true. I had refused to include her originally, but then she sued me and left me no choice. I told my parents, SHE put herself on my bankruptcy.

They still (my parents) choose to avoid me, I think this is mainly my mother, and I am trying to simply keep lines of communication open with them and ignore the negatives.

I do pray for all of them regularly.

It is just especially hurtful right now because my husband has been battling cancer, and I don’t hear from anyone to ask how we are doing. I let them know what is going on, and am trying to learn not to care what their response is.

Some people love money more than family. We all know know what the love of money is the root of. I am sorry Mammon worship has infected your family. :frowning:

This started out with my sister helping me when I really needed it. I promised that I would pay her back the money she paid to an attorney for me.

Later on, she decided not to wait until I had the money to pay her back, and to ask for about 4 times the amount she had paid to my attorney. She had added up everything she spent while my kids and I stayed with her family, at her insistence, during that time.

She at one point decided she couldn’t have us there anymore, and threw us out, which almost cost me custody of my kids.

In spite of that and other very nasty things she did, I still planned on paying her back, until after she attempted to sue me and I had to reopen my bankruptcy to include her. Since that time, she has continued to harrass me about the money which she isn’t supposed to do by federal law. I have the same attorney looking into how to make her stop.

I no longer feel any responsibility toward her. My new husband refuses to allow me to give her any money.

So, the money issue is closed.

Now I’m left with the wreckage caused by her unkindness, and her control of my parents to the extent that I essentially have no meaningful relationship with them.

What all of this has forced me to see, is that my family has always been this way, and I was trying to pretend it wasn’t. I lived away for many years, until I had to move back to escape a bad marriage.

My family insisted that I come “home”, and now I don’t see any of them anyway.

None of them have bothered to get to know my new husband, They believed my sisters lies about me when we shared a house and he helped me raise my sons. We are now married, and I am a Catholic. My sister even tried to interfere with that. going to the priest in charge of RCIA and telling them I was adulterous.

So you see, there is much more going on here than money. It is all about power and control. When I no longer needed her help, she turned against me and tried to control me that way. It hasn’t worked, and she has become desperate to the point of sending out family emails telling me how wretched I am and how I should give her money to ‘save face’ with the family.


I don’t know if it will help with your family, but it’s best to write a long letter to your parents directly about what you wrote us. Let them know you aren’t trying to demonize anybody but there are two sides to every story (well actually three; hers, yours and the truth :wink: )

Then if you want to pursue a relationship with your parents, just call them up and invite them to dinner, a picnic, an outing, or just to come over to hang out. Avoid talking about the subject again by saying that it is between you and your sister and you will not discuss it with them further because it puts a strain in your relationship with them.

Then just continue to invite, call and even send cards. This doesn’t mean to say you should be walked all over. Set your boundaries, stick to them and if you want more family interactions then take the bull by the horns and call.

Some people just don’t ‘get’ how hurtful avoidance is.

In your situation, it’s a result of bad blood and misunderstandings.

In my situation, I just don’t go over to my sister’s houses unless I’m specifically invited. They have busy lives and to my shame I’m unconfortable around their in-laws (my sisters commiserate :eek: ) but reading your post makes me realize that I could call them up more and make more opportunities around their schedules.

Sis behavior is illegal according to the Fair Debt Collections Act, talk to your attorney about it, keep a log and proof of the communications, the emails, and let your attorney handle it. You could actually sue her for far more than what you owe her due to her lawbreaking. Don’t handle it yourself though, let your attorney be the snarling cur and then maybe she’ll back off and shut up if she’s afraid of losing money in the deal…because that’s obviously the most important thing to her.

MCGar and Kentucky:

MCGar and Kentucky:

MCGar, your suggestions are the way I have been handling this for the past year. I call my parents on my own, email them etc. but they still come to town and don’t tell me about it.

Kentucky, I have an attorney handling all of this already, he has copies of the emails. Pursuing it is just going to make everything worse between myself and my sisiter, but my counselor reminds me that she is the one that wanted the courts involved in the first place, so that is the arena where it will be dealt with.

Bottom line is, I have to protect myself from further harm while not doing further harm to anyone else.

Gotta run, I am meeting the brother I still talk to about an hour from here just for a visit.

Thanks for your help with this

Sorry for your situation but I seem to not be getting something. It sounds like you still owe your sister money…am I correct? Maybe I am reading your posts wrong, please correct me if I am.

I understand that the debt is not a legal one because of the bankrupcy but is it still a moral debt perhaps? I hate to seem like I am taking your sister’s “side” or something because I know the situation is more complicated than that.

I had a debt once that was not a legal debt but it was a moral debt I felt. I borrowed money and the people did not have legal standing to get it from me but (I beleive) in the eyes of God that I owed money.

I know your sister put herself on your bankrupcy which was not the right thing to do according to you. I know she has been harassing you which is illegal in the eyes of the courts. But please answer me here: bottom line: *did you borrow *money from her and not repay it? This may be the root of some problems.

I am not asking you a legal question here, but a moral one. The law does not always apply in my opinion. I beleive, reading your posts that your sister is frustrated because she felt she helped you and thinks you essentially stole from her. I am not excusing her behavior but perhaps trying to pay her back in some way may help?

I am asking for clarification, I was very confused reading your posts because it sounded like you decided to not pay her in order to punish her for her bad behavior as in her being mean and taking you to court. I will pray for you, this sounds just awful.

I was wondering the exact same thing.

I think some of you are misunderstanding marybell (the OP). **The sister wanted the money earlier than the date they both had agreed upon **and since the marybell did not have the money at this time she could not pay it back.

Due to the sister harassing marybell in order to protect herself she filed for bankruptcy BUT marybell stated she is still planning on paying her sister back. The problem is that the sister is being unreasonable and is asking for 4 TIMES THE AMOUNToriginally given to marybell. I don’t know how the sister expects her to pay 4 times the original amount in less time than was already agreed upon by both of them.

Prayers for you and your family marybell that all this works out.



Please see the above quote from marybell…this is why I asked my question.

I was just confused (still am) and was hoping she could clarify.

Thank you

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.