What to do when your family and friends don’t support your lifestyle choices.
This would have to be one of the most common issues that crops up when chatting with the women in the NNAM community. I wanted to put some ideas and encouragement down in a post for us to refer to and hopefully navigate through this a little easier.
The lack of support can range from the odd comment here and there to outright judgement, ridicule and abuse. I have heard a lot of stories from you about grandparents feeding kids junk food behind your back, being told your choices are stupid, that you are a bad parent for depriving your children, that choosing to be drug-free is child abuse and your are undermined at every opportunity.
It’s pretty tough going up against this sort of thing.
I have some tips and words of wisdom for you that will help. I have also asked some of my good friends in the wellness world what their advice is. Most of us have come across it in some form or another.
♥ Stay true.
No matter what anyone else says or does, stay true to you. What you value and believe in is important. It’s your choice and you have every right to choose it. That doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind down the track too!
Want to breastfeed past the first year? Do it. Want your kids to avoid additives? Do it.
“We have to stand by our choices and commit to grow and evolve regardless of the external controversy that our choices may cause!” Kati, NNAM community
Let people know that your lifestyle choices are really important to you and that you really find health and happiness when you follow your true path. Sometimes things are implied or suggested and it never gets nutted out. Without launching into explanations or justifications, just letting someone know that this thing is important to you can be enough for them to back off and honour your decisions.
“When you find your own way, your own path, people around you won’t necessarily understand what you’re about. But that’s ok, because it’s not their job to navigate your path for you.” Angela Hudson
♥ Delve deeper.
What I mean by that is: delve deeper into why people are acting the way they are towards you. Many people don’t like change. They don’t like you becoming a different person or doing something a different way. They might feel threatened, frightened or insecure about it. They may feel like you are judging or rejecting their choices and feel they have to defend what they are doing.
♥ Establish firm boundaries.
It’s absolutely not okay for people to constantly speak rudely to you, belittle your choices and undermine you. This is where clear boundaries need to come in. Let your friends and family know when they are crossing the line.
“Let other people’s judgement stay with them.” Angela Hudson
If your loved ones aren’t supporting your choices and it drains you to be around them, then limit the amount of time you spend with them.” Laura Trotta
♥ No explanations needed.
Guess what? You don’t actually have to justify your choices to anyone. If they want to know more, keep it simple and point them in the direction of some resources, books or articles. However, what you do is your choice. It’s not necessary to explain yourself, ever. You don’t have to enter into a debate or argument. Don’t rise to the bait if you are mocked.
“Be confident in your decision and trust that you know what is best for you and your family.”
♥ Don’t preach.
I know, I know. When we find out new information, it’s exciting. We want to share it with the world. However, it can come across as a little bit evangelistic. Just be cool. Nothing will get someone’s back up quicker than if you keep banging on about it and judging them. Everyone is on their own journey, so allow them to discover all this stuff in their own time (or never!)
“Don’t waste your energy trying to convince these people about what you are doing.One day they might come to you for advice and then you can offer it!”
“Just keep doing what you know makes you well, and don’t hassle your friends and family about it.” Jo Whitton, Quirky Cooking
♥ Work around it.
So, you eat healthy but your family doesn’t? Offer to cook meals at family gatherings, bring your own food, visit them at other times besides meal times, catch up by going for a walk instead of a meal. You and your friend have different parenting choices? Catch up for coffee without the kids and talk about something else.
“Make your healthy food VERY delicious so they can’t resist it, and before you know it they’ll be asking for the recipes!” Jo Whitton, Quirky Cooking
“Offer for them to come to your house so you’re in charge of what’s on offer. It depends if it’s a ‘once a year thing’ or a ‘weekly event’. Once a year I’d suck it up, a weekly event would be different though.”
♥ Find your tribe.
If your family and friends don’t support your choices, look for people that do. Join local groups with similar interests to yours, seek out blogs and social media groups that you resonate with. It’s nice to have some people in your life that will offer you encouragement and support in the areas you need.
Join our Natural New Age Mum’s chat group on Facebook here.
♥ Don’t look outside yourself for approval.
You really don’t need other people to validate your choices. Find approval and acceptance of what you are doing within yourself, not without. You can have a different opinion to someone and still value both of your choices.
“Remember when you’re doing this thing, practising self-love and taking charge of your health you’re doing this for you not for them. Their opinions are a reflection of their own journey and not of yours.” Jen Shaw
♥ Sometimes you have to let go.
If they can’t change their behaviour, you have the power to change the situation by spending less time with them or letting go of the relationship. Sometimes cutting toxins out of your life also means cutting out toxic people.
“I thought our health crisis would bring us all closer together but in the end, it was easier and less stressful to say goodbye to a family member who sought to constantly find fault with my new-found approach to family nutrition. Turns out their covertly undermining attitude towards me had been there for much longer than recent history, it just came right to the foreground when we were faced with serious adversity.” Kylie – NNAM community
♥ Be content to lead by example.
Be a role model by living your life the way you want and hopefully being healthy and happy gets noticed.
“Keep doing your thing, keep smiling and lead by influence because eventually they’ll see what you’re doing is working and they may even come to you for help” Jen Shaw
♥ Keep it light and positive.
Keeping situations light and positive with a bit of humour can defuse any tension and awkwardness. If someone is laughing about your ‘rabbit food’ you can agree with them and make a joke. If people are being pushy about eating dessert, just let them know you are already full. It’s your choice how you react to situations.
Don’t let your differences become a huge issue. Talk about something else and make other topics the focus of your time together. If they start on at you, lovingly change the subject.
“One thing I have learnt in my life is just because you don’t connect with people on one level (even it’s an important one to you), it doesn’t mean that friendships can’t flourish on other levels.” Brenda Janscheck Health and Lifestyle
♥ Send Love.
Yep, way easier said than done! Try to detach a little – see the ridicule and judgement as fear and acknowledge it with love, but don’t let it affect you. Lovingly acknowledge that they are in a different place to you. It’s not wrong or right, it’s just different. Smile, send love.
I love this article written by Alisa at 123 Nourish Me, An Open Letter to Grandparents.
If you haven’t discovered the work of The Holistic Psychologist yet, please read her book How To Do The Work which talks a lot about boundaries, codependency and how to live your own life.
How do you handle your family and friends when they don’t support your choices? I would love to hear your stories and get some more great tips!