Family Karma


How can we live in an extended family with envy, betrayal, vandalism, abandonment of pets to the point of death, and verbal aggression? We just moved back due to our parents' health and wishes. I’m saddened by the fate of their dogs, not to mention concerns for our children’s safety and health. Since they harbor extreme resentment in their hearts, they also gang up and are full of envy. Should we take this opportunity to practice patience, dissolve karma and accept whatever is?

—Pat, Thailand


Dear Pat,

You ask if you need to subject yourselves and your children to negative and harmful parental attitudes and behaviors toward you and your family. What do you think? What do you hope will be the lasting memories, impressions and goals of this time together for you, your parents and your family? What is the most positive outcome you hope to achieve during this period of your lives?

At the very least, consider that the actions and attitudes you display towards your parents are being modeled to your children. Perhaps it would be healthier for all involved to at least live in a separate home other than your parents so you can maintain healthy boundaries and attend to their needs as you feel appropriate.

It’s perfectly acceptable to quietly and calmly leave their company if you feel their words and actions are negatively impacting you and your family. They will get the idea that you won’t put yourself in hurtful situations once you have established exit routines when things get out of hand.

Shower them with loving kindness as you feel to and calmly dismiss yourself when necessary.