Saying no to toxic family members

By Randell Tiongson on April 28th, 2024

How to Say “No” to Toxic Filipino Family Members Asking for Money

In many Filipino families, the concept of kapwa (a shared inner self) and utang na loob (a deep sense of gratitude and debt of gratitude) create strong cultural bonds. These cultural norms foster a deep sense of family and community responsibility. However, these beautiful aspects of Filipino culture can sometimes create complex challenges, especially when it comes to financial expectations from family members.

When family members repeatedly ask for money, regardless of your own financial stability, it can lead to a toxic cycle that may need addressing. Here’s how you can respectfully and firmly say no to toxic requests without severing family ties.

Understand Your Financial Boundaries

The first step in addressing this issue is to clearly understand your financial situation. Are you saving for a future goal? Are you financially stretched? Knowing where you stand financially helps in making informed decisions about how much support you can realistically provide without compromising your financial health.

Educate Yourself and Your Family about Financial Wellness

Sometimes, constant requests for financial help stem from a lack of understanding of how to manage money effectively. If possible, help your family members learn about budgeting, saving, and the importance of financial independence. This can be a gentle way to reduce dependency over time.

Communicate Clearly and Compassionately

When the moment comes to say no, choose a time when you can have a calm, private conversation. Explain your financial situation honestly and let them know why you cannot help out this time. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and avoid blaming or criticizing. For instance, “I am currently saving for a down payment on a house and I am not able to lend money right now.”

Offer Alternatives

Instead of providing financial help, suggest other ways you might be able to assist. For example, you could offer to help them create a budget, find a better job, or improve their financial literacy. This shows that you care about their well-being beyond just their immediate financial needs.

Set Firm Boundaries

It’s important to be consistent with your boundaries once you have set them. If you give in after saying no, it may set a precedent that you’re not firm in your decisions. Be consistent and if the requests continue, reiterate your position calmly and firmly.

Strengthen Emotional Connections

Sometimes, the financial requests are a way of maintaining a connection. Make sure you’re investing in the relationship in other ways. Spend quality time together, be involved in each other’s lives, and show that your love and commitment to family aren’t measured only in monetary terms.

Seek Support If Needed

Dealing with financial expectations from family can be emotionally taxing. If you find it overwhelming, consider seeking support from friends, a financial advisor, or a counselor. They can offer you practical advice and emotional support.

Remember Your Right to Financial Independence

Finally, remember that your financial resources are yours to manage. While Filipino culture emphasizes family support, this should not come at the expense of your own financial health and goals. You have every right to prioritize your financial stability.

By approaching the situation with empathy, clarity, and firmness, you can manage family expectations while preserving these important relationships. Communication is key.


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Saying no to toxic family members