Blaming, shaming, fear, fake happiness, and chaos are all part and parcel of dysfunctional families.
And since we all have a degree of dysfunction in our relationships, you will surely be able to recognize at least one of the elements listed below.
If you had too much dysfunction in your family, you may be unpleasantly surprised to learn that what they’ve put you through was not exactly on the healthy side.
Denial is a way to put under the rug or pretend that an ugly thing hasn’t happened. Parents try to act as if nothing happened when family trouble visits them – such as illness, the absence of one parent, or drug and alcohol abuse. It is something that is often ignored instead of being solved. This sends a message to kids that they shouldn’t talk about unusual or frightening things.
Keeping others in the dark about something can often cause harm, even though it may be done with good intentions. Some things remain secret for generations if they involve family shame, a history of violence, addiction, criminal activity, sexual problems, or mental health. The shame can be felt by children – even when they are not aware of the secret.
3. A lack of love, compassion, or intimacy, and verbal punishment
Dysfunctional families have issues acting in emotionally healthy ways and expressing love. There is a lack of closeness in the family, and love may even be suppressed as a form of punishment. Or there simply may not be any compassion whatsoever. Parents may also overly-criticize and even ridicule their children for the way they act or look.
This is another ugly trait common in dysfunctional families. Members of the family may focus too rigidly on perfectionism and focus their attention on unachievable goals. Perfectionism is a damaging way to try to gain mastery and control. And because being perfect is impossible, significant problems can arise in the future if someone has been subjected to such expectations.
5. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse
These are the worst things innocent members of a dysfunctional family can face. Any kind of abuse such as a parent sexually molesting a child, beating them, emotionally neglecting them, or failing to provide them with food, bathing, love, and attention, can cause immense mental disturbance later in their lives.
Contrastingly, healthy families encourage self-expression without the fear of harsh judgment or punishment.
Apart from being expressed verbally, love is shown through nurturing, empathy, mutual respect, and unconditional support. Every family member is treated and valued equally. Parents act in responsible ways, own up to their mistakes, and hold their kids accountable for theirs while not attacking their character in the process. Parents acknowledge the fact that everyone makes mistakes and they also take ownership of their own wrongdoings. They encourage their children to behave kindly towards others while respecting their physical and emotional boundaries.
All of this contributes to building trust, self-esteem, and integrity, which is the best way to improve a child’s emotional health. And if you want your children to have high self-esteem and make it in life, you must work on your own self-esteem first.
We hope this article was helpful to you. Let us know your thoughts on the topic by joining the conversation in the comments and please share if you’ve enjoyed the read.