The New Jersey Housewives reality show took their dysfunction to a whole new level when a brawl broke out after Teresa Giudice’s brother called her “garbage” at a christening celebration. Okay, I expect adults on these types of reality shows to behave like jerks however to have a thug type street fight in the presence of young children was way off the chart.

While watching the chaos I constantly asked myself, “What is the NEED for people to have relationships with toxic family members who disrespect them?” The word NEED is key here. We are programmed to believe that family is the most important thing there is to life because blood is thicker than water. The emotionally mature adult recognizes there are many things thicker than blood and they are able to cut ties with relatives who don’t honor them. Subconsciously, this message says, “Its okay to take crap from people as long as they are blood relatives.”

Family is important to me when my relationships are based on love and respect. My therapist challenged me and asked me, “If your next door neighbor was emotionally abusive to you, would you continue to have a relationship with them?” Of course I said. “No.” She then asked me, “Why would you accept your mother being emotionally abusive to you? Poor treatment shouldn’t be tolerated from a mother, father, sibling or your children. When you honor yourself and you have self love you don’t accept poor treatment from anyone. Because your mother carried you in her womb for nine months isn’t a reason for her to mistreat you.”

I accepted poor treatment from relatives because I was emotionally immature. Like many people I thought having a close relationship with my family members dictated my happiness. I learned to be responsible for my own emotional needs. For me, my definition of family is beyond DNA. Family is people I am in harmony with who equally share love, honor and respect for themselves and me.

What is your NEED as an adult to associate with relatives who are toxic, dysfunctional and treat you like crap? Why do you go to family reunions, weddings, funerals, christenings and other family functions where people have disdain for you? Are you prostituting yourself for a possible inheritance?

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