Dear Thelma: Mean relatives are wreaking havoc on my family

  • Family
  • Sunday, 20 Oct 2019

Dear Thelma,

I’m 19 years old and there are already all sorts of drama in my life, played out by my relatives.

I live with my extended family. At first, we were so happy together, but I started realising that things have gotten complicated when I was 12 years old. Some of my relatives started to backstab my family. I don’t really understand why they hate us and are so jealous of us although they are richer than us.

My grandparents are always partial towards them. Although we spend more time with my grandparents, they love our relatives so much more.

When they were young, my grandparents took care of them. But now they have grown up and don’t seem to bother with my grandparents.

My mum has done so much for them and their children, yet they’re ungrateful. One day, they were very rude and harsh towards my mum, saying that she doesn’t treat everyone equally. But I swear my mum is a nice person.

Moreover, they always like to condemn whatever we own and boast about the things they own.

All the problems in a family can be solved by discussing them together. But they’re not interested to do this. All they know how to do is scream and shout at us although they’re in the wrong.

They spread rumours about us to everyone else. Their children have tarnished my mother’s name, and mine among my close friends. I know my friends don’t believe them, and feel really bad for us because they know my family well. They even advised us to keep a distance from them. My grandparents tell us to be calm and forgive them.

Now, most of the people around me know that all the problems happening in my family are caused by them.

I’m really feeling so stressed. They’re just acting and pretending to be very nice to us even though they know that we are aware of all the nonsense they do.

Why don’t my grandparents take any action towards them? Why are they making the problems worse? Do tell me how to get away from them and overcome all this.


Dear Rehana,

I’m not surprised you’re stressed by this. It’s awful when people create tension and cause fights, yet won’t have an open discussion so that it can be resolved.

I think it would be helpful for us to see what exactly is going on here. The issue appears to be rooted in money and power.

Unfortunately, some people who have material wealth believe that it makes them superior. They become arrogant and look down on others who have not had their luck.

In a fair society, we would remind them that success is sometimes based on hard work but, mostly, it’s chance.

After all, there are billions of people who work hard all their lives and who remain poor.

Sadly, we know the truth in our hearts but we still admire the lucky ones who have material wealth. And because we admire them, we let them get away with bad behaviour.

From your description, these people slander you and your mum but refuse to own their conduct. And they scream like spoilt babies when confronted.

I can see why it annoys you, but as they rejected your attempt to talk it over, it is unlikely that you can affect any positive change.

However, you are able to manage how you feel about the situation. Forgiving can be difficult, especially when you’re young, but I think you might benefit from reviewing the impact of the drama.

If you step back, you should see that for all their success, your relatives lack both reputation and influence.

They’ve been badmouthing you and your mum, yet the people you know don’t believe them.

Not only is their bad behaviour seen exactly for what it is, but your friends actually tell you straight up what they think of your relatives. They recognise that they are toxic, unlikely to change, and therefore best avoided. I think that’s good advice.

At present you are stuck with at least some contact as you’re living with them. In the short term, distance yourself as much as possible. Close your ears when they talk and see their taunts for what they are: bad manners that disgrace them, not you.

For the long term, I suggest you study hard, get a job, become financially independent and move out. Take mum with you! Once you are away from them, you will be much happier. As the proverb says, living well is the best revenge.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.  Email or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FULL NAME AND ADDRESS, AND A PSEUDONYM. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views. 

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