Are You from a Dysfunctional Family? Did your dad ever tuck you in at night?
What exactly is a dysfunctional family?
I once told my mom that we, my brothers and sisters, are all the way we are as adults because we grew up in a dysfunctional family. At once she became very defensive and said, "Don't blame your problems as an adult on the way you were raised as a child." She continued, "You are grown now, you can make your own choices in life, so don't blame us."
I knew what she meant, but I also knew that we are who we are as adults, because of who we were as children. Living in a dysfunctional family as a child, we are different than children who grew up in a normal functioning family. A dysfunctional family according to Wikipedia, "...is a family in which conflict, misbehavior, and often abuse on the part of individual members occur continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions." The key word here, is that we learn to "accommodate" such actions. The definition continues to state that "...Dysfunctional families are primarily a result of co-dependent adults, and may also be affected by addictions, such as substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc.). Other origins include untreated mental illness, and parents emulating or over-correcting their own dysfunctional parents." My dad was an alcoholic during my childhood. His behavior had such an impact on me that I am looking for answers as to how to properly raise my children. I find myself at times over-correcting my own past history of dealing with a dysfunctional parent. I know I was a victim of my childhood, but I sometimes wonder if my children are also victims as I grasp for answers and do the best that I can to raise them.
I see myself as a person trying to over come my childhood dilemmas and at the same time, not create new issues for my children as I cope and learn the proper way to raise a child. My dad never tucked me in at night. I try to tuck my children in every night. I kiss them and tell them I love them, then I turn off the light. I used to watch kids getting tucked in by their parents on TV when I was young. I loved watching the Brady Bunch. Their parents always tucked them in at night. I used to wish my dad would tuck me in just like them.
Dysfunctional families can fall into a domino effect where the next generation has to outgrow and get beyond the "childhood damage" that is created as a child grows up in a dysfunctional family. These days, it is more common than not, that a child will grow up in some type of dysfunctional family. Even if there is no substance addiction as in my family, the child can live with parents who verbally abuse them. There are also parents who divorce, parents who are controlling, parents who talk too little with the child, or don't talk enough to a child due to work overload, etc. The list goes on and on, and the sad part is that many of these children are stuck in a bad situation.
The truth can set you free.
Understanding that it's not your fault as to why you are who you are as an adult who lived in a dysfunctional family is the first step to moving on. Admitting that your family was not perfect and that your parent was not the perfect parent is a major step forward. Realizing these truths will then allow you to move forward and begin to change, grow and most importantly heal from all the damage that was done in your past. Some people seek a variety of ways to learn about how to cope. Some turn to reading books about the various dysfunctional subjects, such as living with an alcoholic parent. Others join groups that provide support such as Adult Children of Alcoholics. Others turn to religion and find support through a church group. There are many ways to move forward and become the person you are capable of becoming. You are worth the effort.