Every family has a few of these types, those who feel a sense of entitlement to every bit of news. They are the frequent scandalmongers present in most families. Many times these intrusive characters are not overly concerned because they are benevolent or want to see peace in the family; rather, it is because they are meddlers.
Believe it or not, some relatives get a thrill out of intruding in another’s personal life. This seems to offer them some sort of momentary pleasure or sense of superiority. It often turns into gossip where the whole family has a gossip line going about them, from Wisconsin to Europe.
Don’t get me wrong. Family can be one of life’s greatest blessings when they are supportive, compassionate and understanding. However, there are times, when certain relatives may cross the line of caring to enter the zone of meddling, it is no longer a blessing, it usually feels more like a curse. The relatives may have an insatiable desire to expound some of their sagasity to “assist” your situation. The counsel or advice quickly turns into prying into affairs or downright cruelty. So-called solicitous relatives may feel the need to tinker into instances in your life that they have nothing to do with; neither do they have any control over it nor any real desire in resolving it albeit get a thrill out of it.
Often, people make the mistake of succumbing to the outwardly friendly approach of these busy bodies and capitulating to their wily ways for the purpose of being liked. By the time they realize, it is too late as they may have established habits and practices that are not only irritating, but also interfering.
It’s a fact in most extended families’, relatives feel they have a right to all information and assume an active central or parental role. The thought is that since you are related, you should share every intimate detail of your life with each other, and give commentary and suggestions. In large families, this takes the form of gossip about other family members providing soap opera type value.
But why does this happen? It probably emerges from the early impressions that people form with respect to the members of the family. The early impression we all had in their minds about us boxes us into a stereotype. Some of us were average, some bright, some lucky, some underachievers and some of us were even the black sheep. Whatever the stereotype in your family of origin, chances are that those notions have continued. Meanwhile you might have moved on in life and probably shaping yourself for better things but if that is at odds with those early impressions, it gives enough reasons for them to dishonor you.
As you begin to get ahead and show the new you, some of your family members will feel uncomfortable. They will not know how to deal with you, the way you are now, so inevitably, they will try to push you back into the stereotype role you had before or start malicious campaign against you.
Just as in the childhood game of relaying messages on a tin can “phone,” the story changes as it’s passed between family members and ends up as garbled. You, as a member of this family, fall into two categories; you either feel your life is an open book or you choose to have certain aspects of your life private. So what do you do if you fall into the latter category? The more you try to retain your privacy, the harder they will work to pry information from you or gang up to annoy you.
It is important to set limits and its never too late to do this, because the longer they are allowed to disrupt, the greater the control these meddling types will have on your relationships with others. It is important to speak up when asked to do or say something with which you do not agree. Do not sacrifice your opinions or what you know to be right simply for the sake of getting along with your relatives. When they do something you do not like, tell them in a civilized manner what they did and why it upsets you. Try and be conciliatory by explaining what is acceptable, but again, not at the expense of your beliefs or self-esteem. If you have reconnected with any of the family member, be on alert. Old patterns will most likely remain in waiting to thrust you into the same old position.
Keep in mind that you have to do what is best for yourself, regardless of how your family may respond. The choice of making a change is something that you are doing for your benefit, and not for anyone else’s harm. You should not feel guilty for doing what is right for you.
It is imperative to lay new ground rules for challenging family relationships, and stick by them, even if it is painful. It will pay off in the long run. Eventually your family will get used to the new you, and learn how to relate to you.
Family is what you are born into, there is no choice about it. Do all that you can to keep these relationships healthy and intact. They are important, but always remember that you are in control of your life and how you choose to live it. Don’t allow yourself to be run over or exhausted by meddlesome relatives.
You can put a stop to it, at best by questioning their intent and at worst by severing the relations.
The bottom line is that it is your life. Stopping meddlers takes assertiveness, setting boundaries, and understanding the dynamics. Setting boundaries takes clear communication. Chances are that if you originate from a family that is enmeshed, there is more than one meddler. If you are determined to stop the meddlers, you will need to gain great skills in assertiveness and setting limits.
Ultimately, it is important to realise that the only person you can change is yourself. It is wise not to waste too much time and energy trying to change another person. Simply change the way you deal with them