The term ‘dysfunctional’ refers to something that is not functioning in the way that it should. Going back to Jamie’s situation, there is something obviously broken in his family. It is important to note that there is no such thing as a ”perfect” family. All families experience conflict at one point or another. However, when the conflict is pervasive and interferes with normal functioning, a family is considered dysfunctional. Common characteristics that are found in dysfunctional families include:
- A lack of routine – dysfunctional families are often found to be unpredictable. It is impossible to predict what may happen in any given situation.
- Fear – growing up in a dysfunctional family is often marked by a consistent sense of dread and fear. Children who grow up in such families are often fearful of their parents and of their parents’ actions.
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol – substance abuse problems are often found to be an underlying factor to dysfunctional family dynamics.
- Arguing – there tends to be a lot of disagreement and arguing in dysfunctional families.
- Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse – members of dysfunctional families are often abused and/or abusive in one or more of these ways.
- Poor communication – there tends to be a general lack of communication that occurs in families that are dysfunctional.