Defining traits of dysfunctional family
The following are some of the defining traits of dysfunctional family dynamics:
Poor communication: Communication is one of the most important building blocks of good relationships. Dysfunctional families are unable to listen to one another, so individual members often feel misunderstood or like their voices aren’t heard. In addition, communication in dysfunctional families is DISJOINTED RATHER THAN DIRECT: “Family members talk about each other to other members of the family, but don’t confront each other directly. This creates passive-aggressive behavior, tension, and mistrust,” Psychology Today says. äó
Drug or alcohol abuse: When drug or alcohol abuse exists in a family, “family rules, roles and relationships are established and organized around the alcohol and/or other substances, in an effort to äó_ MAINTAIN THE FAMILY’S HOMEOSTASIS AND BALANCE,” according to subject matter expert Marni Low. Family members also tend to fall into certain well-defined roles, such as enabler and scapegoat. Enablers do whatever they can to ensure the household runs smoothly in spite of the substance abuse, while the scapegoat is usually a child in the family who acts out to deflect the negative experiences happening at home.
Perfectionism: In a dysfunctional family, one or more adults may be perfectionists. They have very high expectations for children or other family members and don’t accept failure. This has a lasting negative effect, reducing playfulness and assimilation of knowledge in children. Perfectionism creates a “steady source of negative emotions” that causes individuals to constantly feel inadequate, according to Psychology Today.
Lack of empathy: One of the hallmarks of a dysfunctional family is lack of empathy. Parents do not show unconditional love, instead becoming judgmental. Rather than attempting to understand a child’s feelings and point of view, a dysfunctional parent might rely on anger or derision, making the child feel guilty or demeaned. Parents “lack the ability to emotionally tune in to their kids,” according to Psychology Today, causing children to internalize negative feelings.
Control: In a dysfunctional family structure, one or more parents often focus on controlling their children. They might pit children against one another and make them compete for affection, or constantly compare them. Other important elements of control are dependence and LACK OF PRIVACY. “Researchers found that people who reported their parents had intruded on their privacy in childhood or encouraged dependence were more likely to have low scores in surveys of happiness and general wellbeing,” The Independent reports. When children aren’t allowed to make their own decisions, they grow up without the confidence to excel in the classroom or workplace.
Excessive criticism: Criticism and other verbal abuse are particularly difficult for children to overcome. Parents in dysfunctional families often criticize a child’s looks, intelligence, value, or abilities. Some criticism might be direct, while other forms are more subtle and relayed in the form of teasing or put-downs. Regardless of delivery, consistent criticism from parents has a negative impact on self-image and development.