7 Tips on How to Deal with a Codependent Family Member ...


7 Tips on How to Deal with a Codependent Family Member ...
7 Tips on How to Deal with a Codependent Family Member ...

If you want to learn how to deal with a codependent family member, I must tell you that there are a couple of rules you should follow. The term codependence has been around for a very long period of time and even now, it is pretty hard to define. Robin Norwood has defined codependence as “a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family experiencing great emotional pain”. Apparently, the characteristics of codependents are much more prevalent in the general population than anyone had ever imagined. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to interact with codependent people since they tend to become manipulative in their need to control others. The symptoms of codependent people include: a poor self-esteem; being a people-pleaser; having poor boundaries; being very reactive; being a control freak; dependency, problems with intimacy; and dysfunctional communication skills. Basically, anyone who was raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent is likely to be codependent. The good news is that all these symptoms are reversible if they are not left untreated. Here are a few tips on how to deal with a codependent family member:

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Recognize the Signs of Codependency

The first tip I will give you on how to deal with a codependent family member is to try to recognize the signs of codependency. We all have to face a lot of obstacles in our path and we all react in our own way but if you notice a dysfunctional pattern in the way a family member behaves, try to dig a little bit deeper and try to understand what’s really going on. Most of the time, they don’t even know they have a problem, so offer them your support and show them you love them unconditionally.


Recognizing the signs requires keen observation and empathy. Look for patterns such as excessive caretaking, where your loved one prioritizes others' needs excessively at their own expense. They may also struggle with setting boundaries, showing signs of low self-esteem, and have a chronic fear of abandonment. Observe if they seem overly reliant on relationships for self-worth or if they consistently ignore their own desires or emotions to the point of losing their own identity. Remember, these behaviors might be subtle, so approach the situation with care and sensitivity.


Read Books about Codependency

If one of your family members is experiencing such a problem, try to read some books on this matter and get familiar with this term. You could look for material online or you could even visit your public library because you will surely find there everything you need to know on this matter. Learn more about the effects of codependency on family relationships and see what you can do in order to help that person solve their problem.


Expect Change to Be Slow

Good things always take time, so don’t expect your loved one to overcome their problems overnight! Change can and will be slow, but it’s important to have faith in their ability to change and you should always reassure them of your support. Codependency is a form of addiction and it is important that professional help should be sought. If that person doesn’t want to get it, you and the other family members should seek counseling, because it will help you better understand the entire situation.


Treat Your Family Member as Being Emotionally Mature

Even though they don’t always display a mature and responsible behavior, treat your family member as they are like this. You are not the only mature one. They can be as well; they just don’t know it yet. I’m sure you have heard about the Pygmalion effect in which low expectations lead to a decrease in performance. According to this, “people will take the belief they have of themselves and attribute traits of the belief with themselves and their work. This will lead them to perform closer to these expectations that they set for themselves.” So help your family member get rid of this problem and act like he won’t even have it in the future.


Help Them Improve Their Self-Esteem

A low self-esteem is one of the most common symptoms of a codependent person. You could help them by advising them to work on improving their self-esteem. Provide them with reading material, advise them to go see a therapist on this matter and offer them your support and unconditional love. Remember: guilt and perfectionism often go along with a low self-esteem, so recognize these symptoms and offer your family member all the help they need to take care of this issue.


Try to Be Un-manipulative

Dealing with a codependent family member can be a bit tricky sometimes, especially when they are unaware of the fact that they do have a problem. Because most codependent people try to always control everything, they will try to manipulate you into doing as they wish. Yet, you should be more unmovable and un-manipulative, so you won’t play their game and sustain their problem.


Maintaining clear boundaries is paramount. Stand firm in your decisions and communicate openly, without falling into patterns of guilt or obligation. A codependent relative might employ emotional tactics, such as guilt trips or silent treatment, to sway your actions. Stay resolute, and remember that caving in reinforces their behavior. Encourage them towards solutions that foster independence, rather than reliance on you or others. Remember, being assertive is not synonymous with being unkind; it's about maintaining a healthy dynamic within the relationship.


Learn to Be More Patient

When dealing with codependent person, especially with one of your family members, try to learn how to be more patient, so you won’t cause them any more problems than they already have. If you notice that you’ve begun to lose your temper, try to calm down, take a few deep breaths and simply carry on. Patience is a virtue, so try to make if one of your skills.

Dealing with a codependent family member or even with a codependent family can be a bit difficult sometimes, yet you should remember that they are still your family and you should do everything in your power to help them. Do you know any other tips on how to deal with a codependent family member? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!


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I have a co dependent brother who blames everyone for his illness, lack of being a good father, etc....He tends to borrow money and when he doesn't get what he asks for, he gets upset and thinks that I am selfish. He is capable of finding a job, but gives up an expect people to always bail him out. He takes the easy street with myself and his ex-wife helping him as much as we can but he doesn't help himself. How do I respond? I feel so guilty. I can't afford to lend him money and living with me is not an option,because it will just enable him more. Lori Montgomery

Great article.

Thanks so much for this article. It does help to an extent when at times it doesn't always help when I am reliving under my mothers roof and am saving up and some times wish she'd get off my case and become manipulative cause whats happening is it drives a wedge between us or the fact that my parents forced me to sign a Power of Attorney to make me have a relationship with them (this is no joke) i am literally up the walls at times. But I am still looking up even if codependency is an issue and they keep pushing their stuff on me most of the time.

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