Bullying Family Member

Hope this is ok to post.

I don’t know if I’ve over reacting or if I’m being bullied because to me that’s what it feels like.

And of all people, it’s my 80 year old Nan that’s doing it. Last few years she’s developed this obsession with her skin and throwing away loads of money on anything shops sell her just because she has 1-2 dark spots and thinks you will get perfect skin by applying products after products.

My OH thinks she’s projecting her obsession onto me because even as a kid I’ve always had rosey cheeks and still do now and if I don’t wear make up she’ll constantly point it out, making me feel self conscious :sob:

She’s even tried dragging me to boots to buy a “cure” which makes me feel awful and humiliating. She called today and was going on, I eventually hung up and cried because again she made feel ugly.

Telling her her behaviour is enough to give anyone a complex but she has this I’m always right attitude.

I can’t cut her off unfortunately. But I dunno what to say to her at this point. My parents have told her to pack it in but she continues.


Sounds like she’s definitely projecting her insecurities onto you, at her age, age spots are common and i doubt anything will “cure” them.
Having rosy cheeks is common and there’s nothing wrong with having them. Probably best to either ignore her “advice” or tell her honestly what it’s doing to you.


My mum and my nan are both like this. Not with themselves but they like to point out my flaws. Whenever I wear a shirt that doesn’t cover my stomach, my nan always points it out because I’m a plus size woman and just little flaws like that.

Honestly I’d say just ignore her but don’t cut her off completely. That’s what I do. It used to really get me down.


@FireCracker89 the best way I find to deal with this behaviour is what solved my Son’s primary school issues with a bully.

I taught him to say “whatever you say” and then move on. Don’t give the bad behaviour positive attention or let it get to you.


I had this about my breasts from a very close family member for years…even to be told they were “disgusting” and told me to “get them done”

The same family member about my weight…my hair.

It bloody hurts and it’s hard to ignore and rise above it…but as @sharbur says try your best to ignore it…don’t cut her off completely.

It has taught me to be aware of how much a small comment can erase a persons self confidence…

Everyone is unique and there’s enough going on in this world without hurtful thoughtless comments.

Hang on in there…head held high @FireCracker89

You got this…


I think you need to ignore her, I know it’s hard but she will drag you down with her…
It is a type of bullying, how to avoid it I can’t tell you, its catch 22, don’t go around there and then if she passes away you’ll feel horrible. I think you might have to restrict the time you spend with her…

It’s so hard to hear comments like this. I had comments from family members about the size of my bum as I’m extremely pear shaped. No matter how slim I have been, it doesn’t change my proportions. I can totally relate to how comments about appearance give you a complex. I spent most of my teens wearing long baggy shirts over jeans.

Have you tried requesting that she stops saying things? Or something like “right that’s enough talk about me, now let’s talk about…” and completely change the subject.

My dad always used to point out spots on my face, like I hadn’t noticed that I had them. Whenever I used to visit I used to plaster my face in makeup. If I ever noticed him examining my face I would acknowledge them before he had chance to comment “yes, I can see I have spots dad, I don’t need you to point them out”. He hasn’t commented since.


Pear shaped bums are great! :blush::peach:


I think, without cutting the family member off, you either need to confront them and say “Look, this is what you’re doing. You need to stop.” And really put your foot down or just let it wash over you like water off a ducks back.
People who think they are constantly right are always really hard to deal with and even more so when it gets you in a state of embarrassment and hurts your self worth.
I know from experience in the past that eventually led me to have to leave that situation I was in.


It really sucks when someone you love makes you feel you this way :persevere: If you don’t want to distance yourself from her, you’ll either have to have some kind of confrontation or do your best to let it in one ear and out the other. I’ve found that having someone to talk to, like your OH, definitely helps when you just need to air all your frustrations or have someone hug you after you have a cry about it.

My parents and grandparents disagree with a lot of the life decisions I’ve made over the last 10 years and are constantly giving me unwanted advice about how to improve my life. I just let them give their advice and then change the subject because it’s not like I can just make them respect my decisions. When it gets really frustrating, I vent to my husband about it until it’s all off my chest.

Hope you can find a way to deal with it :yellow_heart:


This isn’t uncommon in the elderly unfortunately. Many have less to occupy their time at that age and fall into a trap of being overly critical of anything and everything no matter how mundane or unimportant. How many times do you hear ‘when I was young’ or ‘it wasn’t like that in my day’ or ‘we managed without this/that’ in conversations with older family? They can be extremely stubborn, set in their ways and feel that they’re always right and know best.

The easiest way to handle it is to sit them down and explain clearly how what they are saying/doing is affecting you, say you don’t want to hear it any more and that the next time you do the conversation is over, whether in person or on the phone. Don’t cut them off but make it clear that it’s a subject you won’t engage with them over. If each time they bring it up you stop the conversation, hang up the phone, or walk away they will soon learn they have two choices - carry on and experience the same reaction from you every time or stop and continue with a healthier relationship.

It’s hard but if you get into the habit of ignoring any remarks she makes and not reacting at all she may well stop. People often give up if they don’t get a reaction, whether it’s unwanted comments or playground bullying. The silent treatment can often be the best cure. Good luck. :wink:


Thanks everyone for their advice. I have to see her again on Saturday, so hopefully I can deal with her comments better.

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This sounds absolutely the right call to me.

Her expectations for your appearance are going to be different to yours. She’s a different person to you, of a totally different generation. I do wonder though if it’s possible her comments are possibly well meant, even though they’re very much misjudged?

My Nan used to coat herself in olive oil and lie in the sun for ages to develop her tan :face_with_raised_eyebrow: She used to bang on about me needing to get some more colour in my skin. My generation had learned to be a bit more careful than hers about UV exposure though!

I remember listening to her advice about getting in the sun more, and I just played along to make her feel heard and respected. “Yes, Nan. Great idea, I’ll try to do that Nan!", I’d say. Then, “Here have a cup of tea, Nan. Tell me about your summer holidays when you were little”. And then, with due deference given, and the subject changed I’d eventually ignore her advice completely and do my own thing.

We had some great chats, me and my Nan. I always liked to hear her some of her stories and remeniscences. Some of her views were totally outdated and made no sense to me in a changed world, but I took them in with a pinch of salt because they might have made a huge amount more sense in their time and proper context.

She’d bullied and brow-beaten her own children to some extent because that’s how discipline & respect were commonly thought about in her day, but ultimately she had no hold over me that way, much as she tried to get my Mum & Dad on board with this style of parenting.

In my situation, it was way more important that my parents took my side than my Nan.

Ultimately, even with her outdated and sometimes horrifying views, and her vocal critical commentary about the ‘youngsters today’ I managed to have a pretty good relationship with her, and I miss her now she’s passed.


I had a grandparent like this. And the thing that helped me deal with it was trying to imagine her mindset. When I realised we had different values I was able to brush it off easier.

I still laugh remembering the reaction to when I cut my hair into a bob and she told me men wouldn’t want to marry me.



Not sure this applies to my Nan to be honest lol

She often goes on about how they were taught to respect others but then turns around and pointing out skin flaws to me is the exact opposite of respect and plain rude.

But I found with elderly they think they can say something and because of their age they can get away with it :grimacing:

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I think most of us would think it is rude to make personal observations, unless they are a compliment. Tell her that and don’t go shopping with her - fake a phone call from a friend if you have to. Change the subject - say something like, ‘it’s nicer to make compliments - that colour top really suits you!’. Turn it around so that she talks about herself, but in a kind way and not a critical way.
Otherwise, suddenly notice something on the other side of the room or through the window - ‘oh, what’s that?’ - and walk away to have a look. Old age is no excuse for being rude - if you wouldn’t accept it from a friend, don’t with relatives. It doesn’t mean you have to cut them off - just use diversions, or say, ‘that’s unkind!’ and pop to the toilet - see if she is in a better mood when you return.
As others have said, sometimes it can be a difference between generations in which case we maybe need to find the best in our elderly relatives, but if you feel it is deliberate then I hope some of these suggestions help.


She might actually think she is trying to help you, albeit mistakenly. Would a cheery, ‘Thanks, but I’m fine!’ followed by a story about your social life / new lipstick / an anecdote about a friend be enough to contain her comments? There might be subtle ways to let her know that you don’t need ‘fixing’.
I used to find a low-level ‘shock’ quite useful. E.g ‘Rosy cheeks? Supermodels pay megabucks for this!’ etc… it can change the focus away from you x