The meaning of a family is a mother, father, and children living together in a household. A happy, healthy, and loving family is the idea we all want when we are planning to build a family. It’s everybody’s dream, but not everybody is lucky enough to have one.
My Dysfunctional Family
The house I grew up in was chaos. Every day, my father will come home stinking from alcohol, my mother like an alarm clock, her voice heard all over the place. My parents are always fighting even over petty things. My siblings all have their own idea.
We may all be living in one house, but we never really talked; if ever we do, it’s just to ask a favor or to argue. This is my dysfunctional family.
People say, “You can’t choose the family you’ll be born into,” which is very real. But you can choose the family you want to build for yourself. “No, there is nothing healthy about the “normal” sibling rivalry. It is a dysfunctional relationship that causes unnecessary pain not only to the kids involved but to the parents as well,” according to psychologist Izzy Kalman.
The Family I Want
Since childhood, I dreamt of raising a family in a place far from where we live. A family where love abounds, where the idea of “family comes first” will be our motto. But how can I do it? I looked at my father; I don’t want a husband like him. I looked at my mother; I definitely won’t be like her. I look at my siblings and me; my kids will never grow up to be like us.
The childhood I had. I will not let my children experience it.
My Rescue, Counseling
I’m aware of what I can possibly become, and I want to stop it from happening. I told my husband my past and encouraged him to undergo counseling. There’s a lot we learned; the most critical thing, functional family requires hard work every day.
- Effective communication is vital in any relationship, verbal and non-verbal. It doesn’t only involve talking; listening is as equally important. Communication should always be a two-way road.
- Manage your anger. Problems can be resolved without fighting or hurting. Talk it out peacefully with an open mind. Ask and listen before you react. Put away any gadgets when discussing things.
- Trust and respect. Trust each other’s boundaries. “All people in the family, brothers to sisters, mothers to fathers, parents to kids must be respectful as consistently as possible,” says Elvira G. Aletta, Ph.D. Be each other’s support. Do not promise anything you can’t do. If something unavoidable comes up, explain and say you’re sorry.
- Be positive. Limit negativity and stop blaming. Be responsible for the actions that yield a negative result. Stay positive and find ways to resolve the issue. Consider this as a challenge to strengthen your relationship as a family.
- Know the strength of each. Use this as collateral to increase functioning in your family.
- Bond and date. Always have plans on how you can have fun together. It doesn’t ever need to be fancy or expensive travels. Have even a single meal or snack together if possible. Never miss out on special occasions, it’s a good chance to bond. “Spending time with your family should be given equal weight as it is often the most important aspect of our lives, which we tend to take for granted because it’s urgency is less visible or less demanding,” says clinical psychologist Hameeda Bassa-Suleman.
- Appreciate and show your love. Appreciate every little thing. It can be done verbally or nonverbally; it doesn’t matter. Learn to say “thank you.” These two words mean so much.
Learn, Let Go, and Build a Functioning Family
You can’t just forget your past, but you can use it to your advantage. Accept and learn from it. Let go of the pain and be inspired by it to make a better future for yourself and your family. Your life doesn’t end in the four corners of your dysfunctional home. Coming from a dysfunctional family doesn’t make you dysfunctional.