You must have seen the term ‘’Dysfunctional Family” being tossed around rather flippantly in our popular culture nowadays. But what if you had the first-hand experience of a toxic family environment as a child, and somehow still bearing the brunt of it?
A study says childhood and adolescence play the most vital role in the development of our psyche and personality. The character traits we develop in our childhood and teenage years have a lasting impact on our adult life. Growing up in a dysfunctional family can have a detrimental and far-reaching influence on our romantic relationships than we can imagine.
What Is A Dysfunctional Family?
A dysfunctional family is a unit, where there is little or no emotional stability among the members; instead, there is systematic abuse, conflict, and disregard for emotional needs, safety, and healthy boundaries. This kind of toxic family environment often fosters child abuse or child neglect. Repeated trauma lies at the center of a dysfunctional family structure and the children often go through what is called an adverse childhood experience or ACE while growing up.
Here Are Some Common Traits Of A Dysfunctional Family
Dysfunctional families are identified by their prevailing unhealthy behavioral patterns. Although the frequency and severity of dysfunctional behaviors may vary, the following traits have been identified as common characteristics of dysfunctional families:
1. Addiction or Substance Abuse
In a family where one or both parents are addicted to alcohol or drugs, the internal dynamics of the members are adversely affected. Addiction has a direct impact on communication, finances, and emotional well-being. According to a study, children who are exposed to drugs or alcohol addiction, are prone to suffer negative emotional and behavioral outcomes as adults. These children often resort to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, later in their life.
A family that may look picture perfect on the outside may be a breeding ground for resentment, hurt, and poor self-worth. When parents in a dysfunctional family tend to set high standards for their kids and allow little to no room for error, they negatively influence their children’s thought patterns. Such kids grow up feeling inadequate, and with perpetually low self-esteem. Study says unrealistic expectations and perfectionism often leads to burnout among students.
3. Abuse/Domestic Violence
Parents or authoritative figures within a dysfunctional family setup often use violence or abuse as a means to control other family members and make them do their bidding. Children who are abused or exposed to domestic violence, tend to internalize these negative behavioral patterns and exhibit similar tendencies later in life, according to research.
Let’s Look At Some Other Characteristics Found In A Typical Dysfunctional Family:
- Lack of proper communication
- Lack of emotional support
- Lack of freedom or privacy
- Lack of unconditional love
- Lack of stability or structure
Signs That Tell You Have Grown Up In A Dysfunctional Family
A dysfunctional family necessarily thwarts the emotional growth and personality development of the young members in a way that they grow emotional issues, long after they have grown up. If you have experienced one or more of the following examples, you have grown up in a toxic or dysfunctional family:
- Compelled to take sides in conflicts.
- Punished severely for acts which are normal for kids, like playing in the mud.
- Gaslighting, where facts were altered to make you believe what you remember is not the reality.
- Suffered Childhood Emotional Neglect and your feelings and emotions were ignored and discounted.
- Parents were either too intrusive and controlling or inappropriately uninvolved and distant.
- Either excessive discipline was enforced or there was no structure and supervision.
- Encouraged to abuse alcohol or drugs.
- Witnessed or experienced preferential treatment.
- Physically/Mentally/Sexually abused.