How to know if you’re part of a dysfunctional family

dysfunctional family
Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

You may have wondered if you’re a member of a dysfunctional family. But how can you know for sure?

Symptoms vary but here are five hallmarks to look out for.

Gossip

Rather than going to the person with whom someone has an issue or concern, family members talk about that person behind his or her back.

This assures the person will not get help if they need it and nothing will change. That’s because the goal in this type of family is not to help but to keep the broken system going.

Dysfunctional family roles

Family members are locked into roles at an early age. There’s the scapegoat, the golden child, the lost child, etc.

If you attempt to act outside of your role, you’ll feel the full force of your family’s ire and contempt.

Dysfunctional family rules

Rules in a dysfunctional family include “don’t tell”, “don’t feel”, “don’t trust”. The family refuses to discuss their problems either amongst themselves or with others.

Dysfunctional family members refuse to discuss their problems either amongst themselves or with others. Click To Tweet

They never deal with emotions in a healthy way but suppress and/or minimize them. Since caretakers abandon their children’s needs, they learn not to trust anyone to help them.

Conditional “love”

dysfunctional family

You are only acceptable to the dysfunctional family if you follow their rules and roles. You experience rejection and loss of love when you assert your needs, opinions, or desires.

You are only acceptable to the dysfunctional family if you follow their rules and roles. Click To Tweet

You might lose “love” for failing to be perfect, for stepping outside your prescribed role, or telling the truth about the family’s dysfunction. Even asking for clarity on an issue can get you stonewalled.

Lack of intimacy

Emotional neglect is common in dysfunctional families. They communicate on a shallow surface level rather than seeking emotional depth and intimacy.

True relationship is not the goal in these families. Upholding the status quo is and that means denying emotions and persecuting those who dare to display them.

What other signs show up in your dysfunctional family?

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