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Many of us belong to families that range between mildly unsupportive and downright toxic. Learning to deal with the difficult members of our family can be very hard, especially for those who suffered abuse or neglect. Standing up for yourself is not a quality that many are taught. Many are afraid to do almost anything because they have been harassed or abused. For these people, learning the tools to live a good life happens later, after they have finally realized what has been happening.
These quotes are about the painful reality for many. They range as far as families do, from the happy to the dysfunctional to the cruel. Reading these can develop our compassion for those who have unsupportive family members. For others, these quotes might serve as a wake-up call to begin mending broken ties or building higher fences.
All of these quotes are important; each one is a reminder that it another’s behavior is unpleasant, they may have come from a hurtful family.
Unsupportive Family Quotes
- “Only humans can hurt one another, Ada thought; only humans falter and betray one another with a stunning, fearsome frequency. As David’s family had done to him; as David had done to her. And Ada would do it too. She would fail other people throughout her life, inevitably, even those she loved best.” Liz Moore
- “Look for the good, not the evil, in the conduct of members of the family. “ Proverb
- “My grandfather was crying. The kind of quiet that is quiet and a secret. The kind of crying that only I noticed. I thought about him going into my mom’s room when she was little and hitting my mom and holding up her report card and saying that her bad grades would never happen again. And I think now that maybe he meant my older brother. Or my sister. Or me. That he would make sure that he was the one to work in a mill. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I don’t know if it’s better to have your kids be happy and not go to college. I don’t know if it’s better to be close with your daughter or make sure she has a better life than you do. I just don’t know.” Stephen Chbosky
- “A father who can leave his wife for the lust of body of other ladies is deprived of the love of all other members of his family. “ Unknown
- “…Families are Forever, and I wondered if the slogan was meant as a promise or a threat.” Brady Udall
- “I explain to my patients that abused children often find it hard to disentangle themselves from their dysfunctional families, whereas children grow away from good, loving parents with far less conflict. After all, isn’t that the task of a good parent, to enable the child to leave home?” Irvin Yalom
- “…our family became a place where you screamed for help but no one heard, not ever.” Marceline Loridan-Ivens
- “See, I think there are roads that lead us to each other. But in my family, there were no roads – just underground tunnels. I think we all got lost in those underground tunnels. No, not lost. We just lived there.” Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- “Twenty years after we had left so fierce and proud, we were all right back where we had started, yoked to each other and the same old drama.” Dorothy Allison
- “Mindfulness won’t ensure you’ll win an argument with your sister. Mindfulness won’t enable you to bypass your feelings of anger or hurt either. But it may help you see the conflict in a new way, one that allows you to break through old patterns.” Sharon Salzberg
- A family can be the bane of one’s existence. A family can also be most of the meaning of one’s existence. I don’t know whether my family is bane or meaning, but they have surely gone away and left a large hole in my heart.” Keri Hulme
- “In my family strange is relative.” Kate Rockland
- “As I was growing up, no one in my family got their needs met through respectful negotiation and compromise.” Olga Trujillo
- “Families are homes built on a foundation of trust and love. A toxic family can never be a home because the foundation doesn’t exist.” Unknown
- “Toxic mothers are image-oriented rather than love-oriented.” Sherrie Campbell
- “Adults who were hurt as children inevitably exhibit a peculiar strength, a profound inner wisdom, and a remarkable creativity and insight. Deep within them – just beneath the wound – lies a profound spiritual vitality, a quiet knowing, a way of perceiving what is beautiful, right, and true. Since their early experiences were so dark and painful, they have spent much of their lives in search of the gentleness, love, and peace they have only imagined in the privacy of their own hearts.” Wayne Muller
- “Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place we find the deepest heartache.” Lyanla Vansant
- “The black sheep blazes the trail for other family members to follow when they finally see the wolf.” Unknown
- “I was in denial of the glaring reality that my existence depended on my willingness to comply with the family policy of me earning the splinter of space they granted to me.” M. Wakefield
- “When we are raised in toxic families, we often go through a time period, and for some of us, a lifetime, of repeating the toxic patterns we were raised in with other people in our lives. We do this until we decide we’ve had enough pain and choose to genuinely examine our patterns and stop the craziness for good.” Sherrie Campbell
- “Family is where you’re meant to be most free. Don’t let blood chain you down.” Unknown
- “Cutting people off doesn’t have limits. Family can get cut off too if they are causing you stress. Eliminate any negativity in your circle. ” The goodvibe.co.
- “You went through a “No” phase as a toddler as practice for when you needed to say it as an adult.” Unknown
- “A family is a social system and if that system is dysfunctional, the ramifications for the children growing up within it are grave. In what is known as generational drug addiction, the adult children of drug addicts and alcoholics are quietly suffering all over the world. By the time the children have grown up, dysfunction has been deeply ingrained in mind, body and brain.” Christopher Dines
- Just because they are your family doesn’t mean that they know what’s best for you or your life. trialsandtests.com
- Our family was stuck in a cosmic hamster wheel of toxic love, making the same mistakes, saying the same words, being hurt in the same ways generation after generation. I didn’t want to keep playing a role in this tragedy of errors.” Yamile Saied Méndez
- “Dysfunctional families despise the truth-tellers and whistle-blowers. They are all about admiring the Emperor’s new clothes, and they turn on anyone who dares to mention the nakedness.” Sherrie Campbell
- “It’s sad how I can trust teachers more than my parents.” Dawn Andrews
- “Recovering from family scapegoating requires recognizing that being the ‘identified patient’ is symptomatic of generations of systemic dysfunction within one’s family, fueled by unrecognized anxiety and even trauma. In a certain sense, members of a dysfunctional family are participating in a ‘consensual trance‘, i.e., a ‘survival trance’ supported by false narratives, toxic shame, anxiety, and egoic defense mechanisms, such as denial and projection.” Rebecca C. Mandeville
- “You have the right to put up a fence between you and your family, and the choice whether to include a gate.” Unknown
- “I was born into this family but all I got was hate in a place where I was supposed to get love and acceptance.” trialsandtests.com
- “When you say “No” to a toxic family, you say “Yes” to loving yourself.” Unknown
- “For healthy mothers, the most gratifying part of mothering is watching their children unfold in their own unique and independent ways. For a toxic mother, the natural passage of their children into their independence is experienced as an act of betrayal against her. If toxic mothers are not getting the attention they crave from their children, they “experience their children as inconveniences who stand in their way of doing what they want to do for themselves.” –Sherrie Campbell
- “Saying “No” to family doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you an honest person.” Unknown
- “Families must be built on love, trust and acceptance but dysfunctional families has no such traits, which is why they are what they are. ” trialsandtests.com
- “Children betrayed their parents by becoming their own people.” Leslye Walton
- f a man’s character is to be abused, say what you will, there’s nobody like a relative to do the business.” William Makepeace Thackeray
- “Just because your father’s present, doesn’t mean he isn’t absent.” Elizabeth Acevedo
- “A dysfunctional family is not a family at all, it’s a toxic relationship parading as a requirement.” Unknown
- “I love this quote: “Never argue with an idiot. People watching won’t be able to tell the difference.” When we are attacked and defending ourselves, we end up looking just as bad as our attacker, and our attacker will make sure to focus on only our reaction rather than what they did to cause our reaction.” Sherrie Campbell
- “But the people who mattered were the people you chose instead of the people who were yours by an accident of birth. Real family was heart as much as, if not more than, blood.” Martina Boone
- “I remember how they looked at me when they made me move out of their house when I was fifteen; when they met my friends at my college graduation; when they were across the conference table from me at the legal deposition. Reflected in their eyes is what they saw-a rogue turd bolus, swirling around and around and refusing to go down. If it’s true that I’m locked in a decades-long death match with these people, I’m the one who’s going to win. One down, one to go.” Pookie Sekmet
- “Being brushed aside is the easiest way to discard a child.” Sherrie Campbell
- “Dysfunctional families can’t give you love because love can’t come from people who don’t love themselves in the first place.” trialsandtests.com
- “Immediate, often unsolicited, sometimes undeserved forgiveness—that is what turns the wheel of family life.” Kelly Corrigan
The last quote is especially important. Forgiveness is essential to mending broken ties, both your forgiveness and that of your family. And if standing up for yourself and a heartfelt attitude of forgiveness does not work with your unsupportive family, these quotes can inspire you to build fences to protect yourself from harm.
You are not alone if you were hurt as a child; quite a few of us were. And if your family is unsupportive of you when you are an adult, you don’t need to subject yourself to them. Be compassionate with yourself and it will grow outward to your family and everyone around you.