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October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021

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Toxic Family Ties – Is Blood Really Thicker Than Water?

by | May 23, 2021

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There’s so much pressure in the world to stay in damaging relationships when it comes to family. Phrases such as “Blood is thicker than water” and “Family first” can be painful millstones for people to carry when those relationships do nothing but drag them down.

These past few months, the topic of familial responsibility has been high on the agenda, with countless news stories and opinion pieces being triggered since Harry’s decision to not only step away from the Royal Family, but to speak out in that interview with Oprah Winfrey.

This week, that same topic – and same family – have risen to the top of the news agenda again, since investigations revealed foul play around the now infamous BBC Martin Bashir interview special, featuring Diana Princess of Wales.

There’s a pattern forming here, isn’t there? People who are hurting, feeling let down by the institution – and family members – venting their spleen before an eager interviewer.

The whys behind these interviews are easy to understand. When a powerhouse as mighty as The Monarchy seems to favor a tight-lipped approach, people within ‘The Firm’ who aren’t feeling heard are bound to explode. Or implode. Or both.

For anyone wondering, yes, this particular Brit is a royalist. I love our queen. I love the history woven into our heritage. 

Like any family, though, of course, there are bound to be skeletons in the closet. Or in the walls, if we go back far enough!

That said, I found myself really feeling for Harry and Meghan, as well as William, Kate, Charles, and our long-reigning monarch grandmother.


Did I feel Harry had betrayed his family? Not so much, though I can absolutely understand why that accusation may have been flung.

Do I agree that he, and Meghan, are just spoilt rich kids looking for more attention and drama? No. Not at all. 

Particularly when it comes to mental and emotional health, I applaud anyone who has the courage to speak out. 

Mental health doesn’t care whether someone has a crown, a throne, a royal lineage, or a multi-million-dollar mansion. 

In my view, this wasn’t about taking sides. It was about having compassion and empathy for any family going through such a challenging time and – for me, at least – hoping the younger royals might herald positive change for generations of human beings caught in an outdated Royal machine that demands a stiff upper lip and ‘proper’ public-facing behavior at all times.

On the back of the royal fallout, this week, I was asked to comment on the more generalized topic of people taking the difficult decision to divorce themselves from their family.

As a coach and mentor, I can tell you I’ve supported a number of people through this transition, and so, I know how heart-wrenching it can be.

And so, moving on from the specifics of the Sussexes, Cambridges, and Windsors, I thought this week’s America Out Loud column might provide the perfect vehicle to offer some pearls of wisdom to anyone wondering whether to step away from the family fold.

Rose-tinted lenses

Many of us walk around wearing rose-tinted glasses when it comes to the importance of holding onto genetic relationships. We don’t stop to consider instances of abuse, conditioning, control, and familial bullying, or take into account that a relationship may have become ‘toxic’ beyond the scope of repair.

Sometimes, when an individual has tried everything they can to heal a rift, and staying in that situation is proving horribly damaging to their emotional and mental health, it really can be better to walk away.

Big decision? 



It can be soul-crushingly painful to divorce ourselves from family members who consistently cause us pain, but there has to be a line. 

If we wouldn’t allow a friend or colleague to treat us so poorly, why should we cripple ourselves to stay in a draining situation simply because the ‘bully’ is related to us?

Examples might be a family trying to keep an LGBTQIA+ person closeted or, worse, trying to ‘cure’ them, someone consistently berating a family member’s appearance, personality or value sets, disapproval of someone’s partner (for no good reason), religious indoctrination or expecting the family member to conform to any set of rules that simply do not fit the person.

There are many reasons why an individual might choose to cut ties with blood family, and we really need to stop treating this as the last taboo.

We have to remember there’s a big difference between keeping the peace around you and keeping the peace within you.

What to consider if you’re thinking of walking away

1) Have I genuinely tried all I can to explain how I’m feeling, to listen, talk things out and find a resolution?

2) Is there, perhaps, a middle ground, where I can create firmer, cleaner boundaries – or distance – without completely severing ties?

3) Is there anything I could do, without compromising my individuality and values, to ease the relationship?

4) Is it worth considering mediation?

5) Long-term, would staying in this relationship cause more pain, or damage, than walking away?

Whatever you choose, it can always be a good idea to get some impartial guidance to help you move forwards. 

Consider speaking to a properly qualified and experienced coach, therapist, or counselor before making your final choice. 

Last, but by no means least, please do be careful not to make a permanent decision in the midst of a temporary situation. Step back. Take a breather. Are you caught in a storm that will eventually pass, or do you really need to move to different terrain?

Whatever you choose, always remember to hold compassion and empathy in your heart – not only for ourselves but also for those around us. After all, we can still love someone deeply, even if it’s unhealthy, or unsafe, for us to share the same space.

Until next time,



Inspirational Speaker | Best Selling Author | Empowerment, Confidence & Visibility Coach | Extreme Empowerment Specialist --- FOUNDER: #UnleashYourAwesome personal empowerment and business breakthrough seminars | #BrandMastery program. -- ACCOLADES AND PRESS: Co-host - America Out Loud | TEDx Speaker | DIVA PowerList | SourceTV Evolutionary | BBC Radio regular | Featured: HuffPost, Kindred Spirit, Sky TV and more.

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5 months ago

Well said!

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