What do you say?


Wondering here…if a family member has been mean, vindictive, and viscious to say the least. Calls you all sorts of names, makes all kinds of accusations and then after being hit by a lightning bolt from heaven calls you to apologize, how do you respond? Somehow, “It’s ok” is a little difficult to say.
What say you?



“Thank you,” and hopefully, “I forgive you”, if you do. It must have taken a lot for them to call and apologize… Remember that forgiving doesn’t involve pretending like you weren’t hurt; it’s an acknowledgment that something was done that did hurt you, but you’re willing to let go of it now.


**I would start with an acknowledgment of how difficult it must have been for them to apologize. Then I’d say thank you. Any more than that would depend on the particular person and circumstances.

Has this already happened to you? How did you respond?



I did agree that it must have been hard. I appreciate what they did and then a few minutes later, they called again screaming at me. I said I wasn’t going to listen and hung up the phone. That’s where I stand.


You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, you can even pick your friends’ nose, but you can’t pick your family.
You can, however, totally ignore them. That’s what I do. :yup: :wink:
Ain’t family wonderful? I got some real winners. Maybe we could trade. :stuck_out_tongue: :eek: :shrug:


**Yikes!:eek: Then it either wasn’t a sincere apology or this person has a serious mental illness. Either way, pray for them but keep them at a distance…a very long distance!



having had similar experiences with family members my initial reaction is to ask if this person drinks or uses drugs–one family member used to berate not only me but my parents by phone when on a binge. the next is to wonder, if this person is older, should they be evaluated for TIA (mini-stroke) or blood sugar abnormalities which can both cause bizarre out-of-character behavior. If the behavior is in character, get caller ID and don’t answer their calls. there is absolutely no obligation to allow toxic family members into your life. your forgiveness, if you reach the point where you can forgive, can be unilateral and from a distance.


My goodness…you made me laugh. That’s what I needed. It’s sad though when it’s family. I wish it weren’t.


Kathy… I didn’t know we were related… Seriously, I have both a sister and brother just like that, except when they apologize, you wonder what they are up to now… case in point, my brother called me every name in the book… lied for my sister, saying I had done things I hadn’t, didn’t bother to RSVP or even come to my wedding… then 2 months before he got married he called and apologized for “whatever”… and invite me to his wedding… sounds like he really meant it huh?

Anyway, for my sanity and my children we no longer speak to that brother or sister… unfortunately, mom is the same and we have a harder time separating from her because of the kids… thankfully she only calls on birthdays and Christmas and we live 15 hours away… OTOH, my other sister lives 20 mins away from mom and she gets the brunt of mom’s insanity…

If your sibling calls one minute and apologizes then calls back and yells… maybe you can suggest a counselor for her… but that would probably not go over well… so the next best is to back off and not take calls or go where she will be, but definitely pray for her!!!


lol–this post made me laugh.:stuck_out_tongue:


I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, kathy. I think I would say…when you’re ready to talk to me in a civil way, and offer a genuine apology, please don’t call. I am not sure what else to say, without being sucked into an argument. I know how those things go…you ask…why are you saying this, and the person says…because you deserve it and then you say…why are you saying that, and then the person says…because you deserve it. It really will be rather annoying…so, I would take the high road, my friend. And, don’t argue…don’t digress…but state firmly that you will only talk if he/she is civil.


I know I have promoted this book to the point where the author should give me a cut for marketing, but you need (everybody- all together now),

God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts!

I have had this very thing happen to me, more than once (ain’t family grand?). The first time, I it went pretty much as you describe.

The second and subsequent times, I said, “It must have been very hard for you to do that. Let me get back to you on this. 'Bye, now, I have to __________” This puts the ball back in your court, so to speak. It gives you time to think about what you want to say on the matter. It allows you to set conditions, if these are necessary. There is nothing wrong with saying, “OK, I accept your apology, and forgive you. However, we need to lay out a couple ground rules for the future. I can’t continue our relationship without these things happening:” and you state them, clearly and calmly. Think of it this way: Usually, when we go to confession, we get a penance, some little way to make up for our sin, which really won’t ever make up for it, but God accepts it. God forgives us, but the Community through the priest comes up with a form of atonement. Is it really unreasonable to set ground rules so that you are not hurt again?

Some individuals will throw a temper tantrum and hang up. You will then know, at least, how sincere *that *apology was. Some will say, “OK” and try to negotiate. That’s reasonable, as long they don’t try to put themselves in control. A few will actually accept your terms.


important words to memorize when dealing with difficult family members on the phone
Well, I’ll let you go now. goodbye. click"


That is without a doubt the most important sentence to have in your vocabulary!!!


Do you say “click” when you hang up? :ehh:

(btw, good advice)


Like the other poster said…Are you sure we arent’ related?? I have been swore at, swung at, lied about, accused of…And then the phone call comes…“I’m Sorry.” By my sister.
I have forgiven but I have set up boundaries. Things have been okay for two years now…a record!. We don’t get warm and fuzzy. I hold her at arm’s length. She has said that she was just trying to get my attention because she didn’t feel like I was listening to her. :confused:
My mom is the same way.
I agree with puzzleannie who mentioned substance abuse. In my sister’s case, she wasn’t on anything but my mom’s story is different. So rule that out too.
I think sometimes we feel like because it’s family we have to make exceptions.
You do not have to take verbal abuse from anyone even if it comes from a family member. It is not healthy for you or any of your loved ones who live with you. Set boundaries. Once those boundaries are learned, this person in question should comply. You do not have to engage this person in conversation if they don’t. Love from afar…sometimes very far.
oh, and know that you are NOT alone. That helped me to know that there are (unfortunately) other people out there who have been or are going thru the same things and can offer advice…as you can see quite a few on this forum!
Stay strong.


Aye, aye, Annie! As always: right on the mark. Add mental illness to the list of possible causes.

We ARE required to forgive. That’s a non-negotiable. If you cannot forgive with your own resources, ask the Lord to give you His heart. Although we must forgive, we are not required to place ourselves in harm’s way.

We have a volatile and hostile family member who no longer gets invitations to our family gatherings. I will not hold 15 people hostage to her tantrums. When DH and I chose not to join the family one holiday, we were berated for all the hurt we caused by “breaking up the family.” I responded with perfect confidence, that the hurt that was caused by our not being together could not come close to the hurt that had been caused so many times when we HAD been together. I stand by my decision.


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