Next, identify which relative/s disapprove of you or someone you care
about. If it's several relatives, focus on one at a time. Clarify
how this relative makes her or his disapproval known - verbally, nonverbally (e.g. eye rolls, sounds,
facial expression, and/or body language), and/or comments to other people ("behind your
relative is a
(GWC). If s/he is, study what that
options for relating well-enough to him
your relative expresses their disapproval (respectfully or
not, directly or not) may be part of the problem. ("I can live with your
not approving of my raising ostriches, but I can't accept your
sarcasm and name calling.") If true, get clear on what specific
behavior you need your relative to change, and plan how to
your need/s respectfully.
Reflect and decide whether you need to...
conditions that you can't
change (like your relative's personality),
chronically frustrated, resentful, defensive, anxious, ashamed, or guilty (etc.).
are symptoms of psychological wounding. Follow the link;
Your third choice is to ask your
relative to do win-win
If you choose to
problem-solve, estimate what you think this relative disapproves of - you as a person, as a wo/man,
or in some family role like mate, parent, child, nephew, etc. Ask your relative to explain clearly (a) what it is -
specifically - s/he disapproves of, and (b) why - specifically - that it
bothers her or him. Try not to explain, make excuses, or defend yourself
- these lead to arguing and cutoffs, not problem solving.
As you ask for clarification, stay aware of the difference between
surface problems (needs) and underlying primary needs. Example: "I
disapprove of your smoking cigars. They stink!" is a surface problem.
"Underneath " it may be (a) a need to reduce fear that "you'll get
cancer and I'll lose you," and/or (b) "You're modeling unhealthy
behavior for my children, and I need to protect them!"
Note that if your relative is psychologically wounded, s/he (a false
self) may be
and misjudging you. If so, logic, appeals, hints, demands, or
explanations probably won't reduce the distortion.
If their disapproval is about...
a values conflict - including
ask your relative to read and discuss
this with you.
a behavior, habit, or personality
trait of yours, then review your personal
rights and life
and decide whether you're willing to change. If the behavior has
to do with a possible addiction, read and discuss
this. To avoid resentment and
"relapsing," you must want
to change for your own sake, not for theirs.
Note that well-intentioned
may be causing your
"problem" trait or behavior. If so, freeing your true Self (Lesson
1) is a more relevant goal than changing your behavior!
If you're relative disapproves of
or if they think badly of...
Did you know
you have so many choices? Compare these options to how you would
normally react to significant family disapproval.
Three situations merit special awareness: disapproval (a) by parents or
grandparents, and disapproval among (b) divorcing-family and (c) stepfamily
relatives. Disapproval and conflict between mates merits it's own
In our first weeks outside the womb, we begin to learn that displeasing
the giants who tend to us is painful and even terrifying. Their faces,
voices, and behaviors foster "good me" and/or "bad me" (shame) feelings
well before we have a vocabulary and start to separate ourselves from
them. Our media, school, and religion teach us we must respect
and please the adults who raise us. They also command us to
respect the wisdom and dignity of older people like grandparents.
These early lessons become primal (unconscious) values in many people, which
make perceived disapproval from parents and grandparents specially
impactful. Wounded parents and seniors can use this to c/overtly
manipulate adult kids and their mates by guilt and shame, compounding
mutual relationship problems.
All parents and kids face the same task: separating from each other
psychologically as children become independent young adults.
(GWCs) often have major difficulty separating. Others never bonded with
one or both parents and/or senior relatives, and feel no duty to please
If you're distressed because a parent or senior
family member disapproves of something about you, you can...
choose among the options above,
evolve and live by a declaration of
personal rights as a unique,
tailor your own strategy to master
intentionally replace the old inner rules (shoulds, musts and have
to's) about pleasing your relatives with new rules like...
"I should be true to my own beliefs
and values even if my mother / father / grandparent doesn't approve
of them," and...
"I am a good person whether my
(grand)parents approve of me or not."
If you have trouble doing this, you may have one or more Inner Kids
who still live in the past. Consider doing
(Lesson 1) to free your true Self and identify them, bring them to
the present, and teach them your new rules.
and Stepfamily Disapprovals
Psychological and legal divorce can cause a welter of feelings among
relatives who care about each other. Psychologically-wounded relatives
and in-laws may blame one mate or the other for being "wrong" or "bad."
Their disapprovals can stem from empathy for a loved-one's pain and/or
loyalty to them vs. "the other people." They also may come from trying
to avoid feeling some responsibility for the family disruptions and
marital "failure" - specially if minor kids are affected.
Divorce-related disapprovals are often more emotionally-complex than
other situations, and can be compounded in ex-mates and their parents by
self-criticism, guilt, shame, hurt, resentments, grief, and religious
beliefs . Managing disapprovals in a divorcing family is one part of the
organic process of "divorce recovery."
The options above still apply.
Typical stepfamilies are even more
and are formed by the
of three or more multi-generational biofamilies. Most stepfamilies
follow one or more divorces, and biofamily members may or may not have
"recovered" from them personally and socially before starting to
Relatives' disapprovals of stepfamily co-parents can include things
"You (or your partner) shouldn't have
"You're re/marrying too soon."
"You're re/marrying the wrong
"S/H's not a fit (step)parent."
"You should put your (or our) kids
...and many other things like
child custody, visitations, parenting, names, discipline, financial
support, holidays, health, religion, and so on.
A major part of adjusting well to stressful new-stepfamily mergers is
adults' learning how to spot and
resolve concurrent values
and loyalty conflicts and divisive
- often caused
by disapprovals. Resolution is often hard to find because...
typical stepfamily adults are
their losses, and can't
there is little effective informed
help available locally and in the media.
If you're troubled by disapprovals among stepfamily relatives, adopt a
long-range (multi-year) attitude, accept your
as a normal stepfamily and what that
patiently study and discuss
in this nonprofit Web site.
What are you aware of now? What did you just learn? What do you want to
do with these ideas?
For primal reasons, adults and kids need to feel other family members
approve of (like, respect, and admire) them. Significant disapproval
can cause shame, guilt, resentment, anxieties, anger, frustration,
fighting, and other relationship problems.
This Lesson-5 article examines aspects of "family disapproval," and proposes
specific options for reacting to
a disapproving relative. It includes options for responding effectively
to disapproval from parents and grandparents, and among divorcing-family
and stepfamily relatives and inlaws.
Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get
what you needed? If not, what
you need? Who's
these questions - your
Prior page /
For effective ways to respond
to irritating behaviors, see this.
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