Washington Post article about cutting off all contact with toxic family members....what is the morality of this?


This is, I think, the important bit. In many cases where ghosting is recommended, the problem is that the individual ghosted has repeatedly shown that telling them the truth is only going to serve to give them ammo. They don’t really want the truth, they want a chance to reel you back in - or failing that, a reason to show that you didn’t have any valid reasons after all.

There’s a blogger who does some studies of estranged parents’ forums, under the name Issendai. That’s one thing she talks about - that you often see estranged parents saying they don’t know why. But then reports of interactions with their children report that the children “just attacked them” or “wrote pages of abuse” or something. That’s consistent with my own experience - attempting to convey reasons is just remembered as “DarkLight was just being mean and nasty to me all of a sudden and I don’t know why!” None of the content seems to actually register at all, just that I said a bunch of “rude” things.

Unfortunately true. When everyone’s used to it being a certain way, it’s often easier to see the person who’s bringing up the problem as the one “causing trouble.” Because things appeared fine before they spoke up.


I agree! This part of Christianity is not easy to understand. People can use your faith against you too. They expect a sacrifice. When do you sacrifice and when do you fight back…or at least not act as a doormat?

I always thought I understood the “turning the cheek part”. I always interpreted it as “don’t sweat the small stuff”…a slap in the face, a cloak, an extra mile (I enjoy a nice walk anyway)…Jesus is not saying to let yourself be stabbed in the side. Yet he lets himself be stabbed in the side. So where is the balance?

When do you sacrifice?


One thing that helps me is thinking “what results will I get here?” Sacrifices are sacrifices for a purpose. You don’t sacrifice so your drug addicted sibling can buy more drugs, or an alcoholic parent can avoid consequences for spending the rent money on beer. You don’t sacrifice because letting someone chew you out enables them to not confront their own behavior.

It’s almost like dealing with children. It would not be a noble sacrifice to let a child throwing a tantrum get their way.



I have heard this “offer it up and continue letting people abuse you” type of advise from people. Personally I think it is a lot horse excrement.

If the abused person turned around and started doing the very same thing their abuser has been doing, the very same people who recommend the victim be a doormat will be the first to disapprove of the behavior.

As they say, all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.


Also enabling someone in their sin is not loving at all.

With the sacrament of reconciliation, the person will have to be in confession in the first place and acknowledge their sin in order to be forgiven. Your sins cannot be forgiven if you do not truly repent and you don’t go to confession in the first place.

Toxic people never believe they are at fault.


The meaning of the word “sacrifice” is “to sanctify” something that in of itself isn’t “Holy”. Thus you make it “Holy”, through your “Sacrifice” you “Sanctify”.

When you say:

The exercise of patience and forgiveness is “Holy” even if you don’t attain tangible temporal results. Here we need to factor in “wisdom” and “foolishness”, but a foolish naive act can be Holy and Saintly - some saints were reputed to be very naive, the difference (looking beyond wisdom and foolishness) is that sanctity does not yield to sin. Saint Paul says: the wisdom of the Cross is foolishness to the world.

I like your descriptions because they “capture a functional dynamic” of psychologies interacting that isn’t always easy to describe. If you wanted to “boil it down” there could be 2 main factors: “Accusation” and “denying (taking away) your reasons”.

Think of it in terms of “tactics”. It’s very easy to accuse (frivolously, futile) -a short sentence suffices- the subject of accusation has a burden of proof and refutation placed upon them, they feel accused in their very being, in every dimension of their being. This forces them to elaborate an explicit intricate defense and proof. (It’s not only a personal attack, but a strategy of overwhelming through complexity whilst provoking the other party.) -it works, inherently.

The second part, “denying (taking away) your reasons”. This one is actually a double-edged blade, working in conjunction with the former. Remember, those who have their reasons taken away under unjust accusation develop both ability to examine their conscience and to articulate themselves. Thus, the bible does indeed say parents shouldn’t exasperate their children but should also never fail to correct them at every turn.

It seems, from your writing, that experience contributed towards your ability to define yourself - whereas those never corrected -however unjustly- may tend to unconscious self-uncritical conduct and shameless sectarianism of all kinds…

Both of these are common in the business world (not only family life) -so you see, it’s a mistake remitting such acts of injustice exclusively to psychology or family relations, these are an integral part of the moral development of conscience.


This is a good point…in the context of Jesus…I’ll have to think about this.

Yes…when I started this thread I was specifically referring to family situation but also business situations.

@adgloriam … your sentences are fun…I mean that sincerely. They’re are difficult though. I had people hammering me over the head to write short sentences once upon a time.


It’s a basic definition of the faith - a very good one that adds sense to our actions. It holds over scripture. If you like Fátima, the children seers offered sacrifices of what they could - the small works of mercy of Saint Therese of Lisieux can also be considered sacrifices. (It’s probably in the catechism somewhere.)

I didn’t read the Washington Post article, but I sensed it was another “pseudo-psychology” piece reducing family relations to the buzz-word “toxic” only to advocate severing ties without hope or justice. Again, a Catholic perspective is rich, and should be broad. At its core my comment is an apologetic of the holiness of family -finding some sense- however difficult the family.

Thank you. I opt, grammatically, for double adjectives and composite objects only out of necessity given the topic (if you look at the verbs they seek to dynamically counter over-simplification typical of “toxic” anti-family reasoning ). The Syntax is stretched, but the Semantics are straight. Every Lexical item is carefully chosen. I’m not a native English speaker, but I recon I’ve done an acceptable job at learning the language. And I do aim to please, so I’m happy you had fun :slight_smile:


The analyses would have to follow these lines:

The Washington Post article has 1028 words (very short - half is a personal account) and cites 3 “scientific studies”.

Let’s look at the studies:

The first study focused on students, the second was specific to Boston, the third was to beneficiaries of a Charity Organization. Thus, the three studies were very circumscribed to specific realities. Especially the students and charity beneficiaries. The Boston study was representative, but geographically very specific since families vary culturally.

The Boston study also starts with Durkheim leaving out any mention to “habitus” or morality. Their only mention to the role of religion is actually a catholic mother talking about her sons divorce.

So NO !!! Catholic doctrine on family is beautiful and searching for answers in other dimensions neglects the best part - Jesus.

God bless.

P.S. The OP article following quote is completly out of context with the studies findings given context and circumstance: It misrepresents the studies.


God doesn’t expect us to remain in relationships that will irreparablely harm us. When it affects your health (physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) in a harmful way, no matter how much you love the family member, the toxicity of remaining in such a relationship necessitates cutting all ties.

I’ve had to do that with several family members. And while it saddened me at the time, it also lifted a heavy weight from my shoulders.


This is why I’m asking about this article here on CAF. This is why I’m surprised by the responses I’m getting too here. How do you think the conclusions from this article differ from Catholic teaching?

I agree the quote you mentioned did not appropriately point on the context and circumstances of the studies. This is good and interesting point.

Sometimes you are not necessarily searching, but something gets thrown in your face when you’re trying to understand what is going on with the shutdown (not trying to get this thread off task by mentioning this). In this case I walked away and to my computer and started this thread to understand the article from a different perspective.


I think a lot of this is very similar to how we understand and talk about divorce. Divorce is a great harm to the family, and we absolutely do not condone people leaving their spouse simply because “it’s not working for me.” But within that context, we recognize there are cases where separation may be called for, for the purpose of protecting one party to the marriage and for protecting their children. We recognize that there are times when a conflict is so one-sided that all the other party can do is walk away, at least until there is a radical change in the behavior of the aggressor. We recognize that it is not part of our faith that a victimized spouse must stay and allow their partner to abuse them.

We also recognize that mental health is as important as physical health. Persistent injury to mental health is a problem just as persistent infliction of physical wounds is. We are not called to sit around and suffer merely because someone else finds us a convenient target for their cruelty. Nor in fact do we do them any favors by enabling their own sins with our presence. And if we are responsible for others, such as minor children, we have a responsibility to protect them.

One’s family of origin is very similar. It is absolutely a bond that one should not throw away lightly. But there are times where it is necessary. Where things cannot be worked out because one party deems it their right to injure the other. The only solution then is to walk away.


I’m a member of a FB group for people that were abused as children. The group has over 8500 members. Many people in this group have chosen to go no contact with members of their families, particularly parents and siblings.

For those who write about their experiences virtually all of them describe what a difficult decision it was to go no contact. The majority believe they had no choice due to the other party’s behavior.

They relate attempts at reestablishing contact months or years later only to be sucked once again into their dysfunctional families.

For people who are in therapy to heal from abuse it is common as they begin to heal and become more emotionally healthy, their unhealthy family members treat them worse than before. When a previously emotionally unhealthy person becomes emotionally healthy that changes the dynamics of the relationship and the emotionally unhealthy person feels threatened by that.

My young adult niece went no contact with her mother, father and stepfather on her 18th birthday. This was a healthy decision for her and the rest of the family has supported her in this decision. She is now 23 and lives with me.

She would like to speak with her mother on the phone but she knows she will have to take precautions such as getting a throw away phone so her mother won’t have her phone number. Her parents also do not know that she lives with me and for our safety I prefer to keep it that way.

These people would literally call my niece 100 times a day if they had her number. They would show up at my house and try to force their way in. I have a domestic violence protection plan in place at work because my niece’s mother and I work for the same organization.

My point is that some people are simply too crazy and dangerous to be around and there is nothing wrong with going no contact.


One would think that what you just said is the common sense approach towards toxic relationships, that no person in their right mind would recommend a victim of abuse stay with their abuser.

However common sense is not as common as we would like to think. I see a disturbing trend in society where the victim is often blamed while the abuser is often protected. We wouldn’t be having the Church scandals if in the end those in charge placed more priority on protecting the victim instead of protecting the abuser.

This is not only in the Church but in families as well, where too often a member is singled out as the family scapegoat. Instead of trying to protect the unfortunate individual, other family members blame the victim and protect the abuser. In a lot of other cases they do nothing.

I remember a story from a family reunion which I did not attend. My three year old niece was literally throttled by her stepfather while the rest of the extended family looked on and did nothing.


I knew that from the first post. But I left this to be addressed last. The article is secular, it legitimizes itself by quoting scientific publishing -which is the dominant form of legitimate discourse- attempting to pass “estrangement” as natural. [We could put family-therapy articles up there, thus letting the scientific field oppose itself from within.]

But it neglects, completely, what should be addressing only what is. It is partial (crypto-sectarian) by all too inconspicuously neglecting -willfully forgetting- that other perspectives and alternatives (it forgoes doctrinal, moral, or spiritual principles) exist. It puts away with it, seeking to legitimize only its own view, in the process casting an imperative of neglect over the core family values that make us catholic (The Fruits - Of The Holy Spirit). In the process, setting a model, that is wrong.

And should no other way be possible, we should never accept that possibility in its principle. It would be like saying that Jesus can’t heal, that conversion doesn’t save, that the Holy Spirit isn’t God omnipotent and omnipresent. That patience can’t be heroic, that wisdom of the world has the last word.

It assumes the exception of intrafamily dysfunction as norm, it fails at setting a model or proposing any solution, it is disenchanted, hopeless, of despair and despairing, not of conforming but unconformity, conforming to the unconformable, its form masks it’s lack of form. It doesn’t inform but dis-inform, misinform. It is of bad form. Disform.

[P.S. One should oppose The Parasite Single, The Freeter, The Sampo Generation, The Herbivore Men - or my personal favorites: The Bamboccioni or The Mammoni.]


It’s usually said: “life is a stepmother”.

And also: “there are nephews and there are stepchildren.”

The choice of the part “step” in the composite word is noteworthy.


How are Mammonis relevant? I don’t understand the connection.


I don’t understand the sudden change in topic.

The topic of this thread has something to do with toxic family members and not about adults living with their parents.


Jesus heals - and just sometimes, if He wills it, I might be the vehicle of that healing. Sometimes not. And if I am, sometimes it will be by patiently bearing the other’s wrongs. And other times it will be by drawing a line in the sand and saying ‘no more’.

At all times I am within my rights to protect my mental and physical well-being. It is part of being a good steward, as my body and soul and spirit were given to me by God and I should have at least as much a care for them as I do for those of other’s.


First off, the topic is about family.

Second, the pair “Toxic + Family” don’t work outside the English language. It isn’t used in any other language! Exactly what entitles anyone to call a family Toxic? Since when is Toxic a valid adjective/noun to be applied to human relations? Does it even show on wikipedia - NO! Among all the nonsense on Wikipedia such a vacuous term hasn’t been deemed worthy of being inscribed - because usage of the term is toxic in itself to the user (Anglo-Saxon media, however, is having its field day off the fallacy - how did every other culture on Earth not accept/reject that concept?).

Whoever coined that term -most coining is nothing other than nonsense- forgot to inform that it’s in good lexical and conceptual taste -soundness- to not lend that expression any authority. Really, I have a dictionary at my disposal yet I’m expected to reduce linguistic exercise to Newspeak in its most repulsive forms labeling the sacred with indecorous taxonomy.

My native language has over 70 inflection forms for every single verb, let’s try some prose…


Prose: Those “adults” are family members. Family members live together. The thread is about family. The thread is about family members, about family members living together. There: Prose, Verbs, Action, Clauses, what could we desire more?

Indeed. But the challenge is always formation of reason, formation of conscience, and formation in doctrine - towards holiness. Because, without the former, you’re left without the necessary tools towards being Christian. And, as you very well said, it was Catholic doctrine you recited - however, as the vast majority of families also goes to prove: people aren’t perfect, however, someone (that may even be worse in many aspects) manage to manage, in a Catholic sense. And reducing family relations to an individualistic perspective of self-preservation, is reducing (doctrinal)…

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