My point is that many people do not get along with their family members for one reason or another--and it is sad. However, why not make the family friction into a learning experince for you and the kids? Dadvocate gives an example of how he no longer feels comfortable around his family because of the difference in political views which, in turn, may affect his children. This is indeed, a concern.
However, in the raising of children, perhaps it is best to expose them to different groups of thought and help them to sort out why Aunt Becky or Uncle Tom is the way he or she is and to learn to understand their differences. This does not mean buying into whatever asinine thing the relatives want to say, but rather using it as a springboard to help children understand and broaden their perspectives on how people behave. And who knows? Aunt Becky with her liberal views may be the one who pushes little Johnny into a great career in the army or little Debbie into advocating for male rights after her son is forced by feminists to be medicated for his masculine behavior. Or on the other hand, Uncle Tom's racist views may lead another child to examine his own prejudices and decide to become more aware of his own racist attitudes in daily life.
So maybe rather than becoming upset and boycotting family members, we can see them as a training tool for ourselves by learning about patience and for our children by teaching them the intricasies of human psychological functioning. After all, in our work life and in the world of everyday living, we must learn to interact with and deal with people we do not agree with or necessarily like and the sooner kids learn to do this successfully--the better.
Update: Okay, I admit defeat--the stories in the comment section are heartbreaking--I can completely understand why some of you are unable to cope with abusive, threatening and just plain obnoxious families. Thank you for sharing your stories here and I hope you will continue to post, not only about your bad experiences, but perhaps share how you overcame the dysfunctional family curse yourselves. All of us can learn from your experiences and those who have not learned to cope thus far, may learn something.