Is My Family Dysfunctional?

by | Oct 4, 2022 | It's Family | 0 comments

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Is My Family Dysfunctional?

is my family dysfunctionalIs my family dysfunctional? For me, the answer is yes. There is no doubt in my mind that I grew up within a very dysfunctional family dynamic.

If you have been reading my blog and following my story, then I am sure you are thinking, “Derp, Talia, of course, your family is dysfunctional.”

But I didn’t always know that.

I thought my family was just the way families were. Especially as a small child, the way my family was, was normal as far as I knew. Then I went to school and observed how other parents interacted with their children. I noticed differences. I thought other families were wrong and didn’t understand how to interact.

But then, as I saw more interactions, I realized my family was wrong. But, of course, I didn’t have the word “dysfunctional” back then. I just knew there was a wrongness. But then, I was still stuck in the middle of it, so I struggled with that confusion for a long time.

In case you are wondering, like I was so long ago, if your family is dysfunctional, here are some ways to tell if your family is dysfunctional.

Signs Your Family May Be Dysfunctional

is my family dysfunctionalA dysfunctional family includes a lack of harmony or cooperation within a family. But what does that mean? Dysfunction is characterized by patterns of behavior that are harmful to relationships. These patterns can be passed down from generation to generation.

If you’re wondering if your family is dysfunctional, ask yourself if any of the following apply:

  • There is a lack of communication or an inability to communicate effectively.
  • Family members are afraid to express their true feelings.
  • There is a lot of criticism, judgment, and shaming.
  • There is a lack of boundaries, with family members overstepping each other’s personal space and/or violating each other’s privacy.
  • There is a history of abuse, whether it be physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal.

If you answered yes to any of these, you might come from a dysfunctional family.

Of course, every family has problems and ways of dealing with them. The important thing is to be aware of the signs of dysfunction and seek help if needed. There is no shame in admitting that your family is struggling; it takes a lot of strength and courage.

Can I Cope With Family Dysfunction?

After answering the question, is my family dysfunctional? What do you do if the answer is yes? There are several coping strategies that you can implement.

But, here is the situation with coping with a dysfunctional family; if you are still living at home (child, teenager, etc.), the only advice I can think to give you is to survive. I know it isn’t great advice. In my specific experience, there wasn’t anything that I could do to “cope.” My “coping” was to seek out alcohol and other drugs (escape) and to shut down completely when I was home (numb). But I survived.

However, if you live outside the home, where you can have some distance and perspective, I have different (hopefully better) advice for you. Because you are no longer amid the chaos of a dysfunctional family, you are affected by it every day. I know I am.

  • Set boundaries with your family members. Boundaries will help you protect your physical and emotional well-being.
  • Communicate assertively – express your needs and wants clearly and respectfully.
  • Seek professional help if you feel like you can’t cope independently. A therapist can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and work through any unresolved issues you have with your family.

I am not in contact with my family origin anymore. But I am exposed to dysfunction in other friend and family spheres. I am more aware as I engage with the world in my healing. And I work diligently on the above coping strategies.

I am in a different place now. I will not allow other people’s dysfunctional tendencies to fuck with my healing.

The first coping suggestion, setting boundaries, is a crucial strategy for me. I had to learn what boundaries are. And I work on my boundaries, understanding what they are and how to assert them respectfully.

me with Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover TawwabThis book, *Set Boundaries, Find Peace, by Nedra Glover Tawwab, has been an invaluable tool in my toolbox of coping skills. I learned so much from this book about boundaries. It has been a life changer for me.

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Effects of Family Dysfunction on Children

Family is one of the most essential things in a person’s life. Children are genetically predisposed to attach to their parents to provide an overall sense of care. And have a great deal of influence over a person’s development.

Children growing up in dysfunctional families may have difficulty with or exhibit the following:

  • Developing healthy relationships
  • Learn to bottle up their emotions
  • Use drugs or alcohol to numb their pain
  • Have difficulty trusting people, or they may be overly trusting
  • Have trouble communicating their needs
  • Act out in anger or violence

All those “difficulties” listed were me. And that did not end as I entered adulthood either. I never worked through any of that in therapy before, and the pressure built as I grew older until, four years ago, that dam burst. And I am so thankful that it did.  

Do I Break My Dysfunctional Family Cycle?

is my family dysfunctionalIf you come from a dysfunctional family, it can be tough, practically impossible, to break the cycle. But if dysfunctionality is left unaddressed, it can cause long-term problems. Individuals from dysfunctional families are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Like me, they’re also at greater risk for substance abuse and addiction. That describes me rather accurately.

If you don’t address the issue of dysfunctionality in your family, you might end up repeating the same patterns of behavior that caused pain and suffering for generations before you. But there’s hope. With the help of a therapist or counselor, you can learn how to break the cycle of dysfunction and create a healthy, happy family of your own.

I would not suggest trying to break the dysfunctional family cycle without professional assistance. That can end poorly for you because you will be treated as a threat to the family unit. Remember, you can’t change people unless they desire change. If you and your family desires change, find a therapist ASAP. You do not have the skills to guide yourself or anyone else through that level of change in the family dynamic. You don’t.

Therapy works, people, use it. Choose to break the cycle. Choose to be better.

The signs of dysfunctionality can be very subtle and easy to miss. If you are experiencing negative effects from the dysfunction in your family, it’s time to seek help. Don’t let the cycle of dysfunction continue in your family – break the pattern. Therapy works, people, use it. I recommend Online-Therapy.

Access to online therapy is a game changer. Go ahead and take that first step. You won’t regret it.

I receive compensation from Online-Therapy when you use my referral link. I only recommend products and services when I believe in them.

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Please note that I have not been given any free products, services, or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them on the site. The only consideration is in the form of affiliate commissions.

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