We all know that a perfect family doesn’t exist, but some parents try to build one for their kids’ sake, and that’s not bad. According to psychologist Elvira G. Aletta, Ph.D., “No family is perfect, even the functioning ones.” Almost everybody dreams to be in a nuclear family living in a house with beautiful surroundings, the father working and the mother just stay at home to take care of the kids. A home where love abounds and respect is the holy dish each one offers for each member. What a sight!
Functional Family, Not Perfect But Almost
A functional family is one that is near fit to the description. Parents who sometimes get into an argument, but in the end, can sort things out. Both mother and father may be working but not neglecting their duties as parents to their kids. Children feel loved, respected, protected, and well provided. Siblings, too, may sometimes fight, but still helping each other out, looking after each other, and with regards to each other’s space. Thus, the children grew up with a sense of responsibility and become more stable. According to Gregg Henriques Ph.D., “An individual with a healthy or functional relationship system feels valued by important others, expresses attachment and compassion, and has a portfolio of strong, long term relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.”
Children of a Functional Family
Children that grew up loved and respected tends to be:
- Respectful of others, because the parents were able to teach their children ethical values at home.
- Responsible for their studies. They often do well in school and have a clear vision of what and who they want to be in the future.
- Capable enough to admit wrong deeds they’ve done. They believe that it’s an experience that will make them stronger and more mature.
- Feel secure about who they are.
- They can communicate well and express themselves while being mindful of other’s feelings.
- They are flexible and adaptable when problems arise. They know how to compromise and sacrifice to be of help in times of crisis and not be a burden. They are aware that this is to put back balance in their functional family or they will end up in a dysfunctional family situation.
Dysfunctional Family, A Situation That is Reversible
A dysfunctional family is the opposite of the description above. It is where either one of the parents has immature behavior negatively affecting the whole family thus making the family emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually impaired. According to Kathryn Rudlin, LCSW, “When dysfunctional patterns become the standard in a family, the detrimental effects on the children are significant and can be carried into their adult relationships.” There is even the possibility that children may suffer from psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, and passive or active suicidal thoughts.
Children of a Dysfunctional Family
Living in a stressful and chaotic family can leave scars that are hard to heal (if they recover at all), making children:
- Rebellious and irresponsible not only at home but also in school and the community. The behavior caused by the psychological or behavioral disorder that is the after effect of living in a messy situation.
- Feeling guilty when something is wrong. They assume that it’s always their fault because they feel responsible for others. They allow themselves to be the scapegoat just to make others happy ignoring themselves and their own needs.
- Feeling empty and secluded. They always desire attention and affection. They hate being alone and lonely.
- They tend to criticize themselves maybe because they were often judged growing up.
- Have poor communication skills as a result of parent’s negligence, not allowing them to speak up their mind and express how they feel as a child.
- Pessimistic. They think there is no hope. They always feel a hole inside them, feeling that something is lacking in their life.
You may identify yourself in the dysfunctional family, but the situation can be reversible. You may be unstable emotionally and psychologically, and this can affect your home and your children. To change things is a big challenge that you have to accept – a change you have to make that is not expected to happen overnight.
Understand your dysfunctionality and take baby steps to find ways to address them to lead a functional, happy life for you and your family.