How can I avoid family members who stress me out?

My mother takes care of niece whom my sister abandoned. She calls me every day complaining, but I don't want to hear it anymore.

Linda Spyres
Linda Spyres
LCSW, CEO

This sounds like a possible boundary issue. Boundaries are important in relationships. They are invisible lines that we will or will not cross. It is up to us to create and hold them. We have the ability to rethink them and change them as needed. It sounds like you have thought it through and would like to makes changes in the relationship between your mother and you. In the main question, you want to avoid the family member, however in the following comment, it sounds like you may just want the avoid that conversation, not so much your mother. 

Once we review the issue and decide what we need (create the boundary), I suggest opening talking with the person when everyone is calm (not in the middle of a stressful moment when we often are unable to focus and hear the other person). Always understanding that we had time to think about this issue and the other person has not (catching them off guard). State clearly your need. Such as "I am not comfortable with hearing about my sister. It stresses me out. I would appreciate it if you would not bring it up anymore. If you do, I will not respond and I will change the subject " It is important to use "I" statements. I feel" this way". I will "do this". We only have power over our actions. Also when we use "you " comments, the other person can become defensive and unable to hear what we are saying. 

Once we let ourselves know what we need, then let the other people know our new boundary, then it is up to us to follow through. We will make mistakes. Not follow through every time with our boundary. That is okay. Start again. It gets easier with practice. It is also appropriate to reconsider and change your boundary as needed. Just let the others know when you need to change it. Remember, they can not read our minds. 

I wish you much strength and hope the best for you and your family.

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The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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