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Are You from a Dysfunctional Family? Did your dad ever tuck you in at night?

Updated on May 30, 2013

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.

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    • Mother Nurture profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie G 

      6 years ago from HubPages America - Southern California

      creativeinchief - Thanks for your comment. I'll check it out.

    • creativeinchief profile image

      creativeinchief 

      6 years ago from TAIWAN

      This is CREATIVEINCHIEF here, I have just written a book called "HOW TO BE THE BEST PARENT YOUR CHILD NEEDS."

      In the book, I stated that the parents have the most of the work to do.

      Children are to be helped, by being parented firmly and lovingly.

      both parents needs to speak with one voice to avoid confusing the child.

      Check my book and you will see more nuggets of wisdom.

      CREATIVEINCHIEF

    • Mother Nurture profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie G 

      7 years ago from HubPages America - Southern California

      grinnin1 -You are so right. I have two brothers and two sisters and we are all in the same boat. Some of us were affected more than others, but we all have issues as adults due to our childhood. Three of us have children and we are all doing well raising our kids because we talk about our childhood and some of the things that went on. We all agree that we are going to raise our children in a new light. Thank you for sharing.

    • grinnin1 profile image

      grinnin1 

      7 years ago from st louis,mo

      I'm sure you have probably read it, but Adult Children of Alchoholics is one of the best books out there that addresses the circular problems and issues that arise out of generational alcoholism. You recognize yourself and your parent's patterns. Good luck- just being aware,loving, and trying to do the best you can for your kids goes a very long way in helping them grow into healthy happy adults.

    • Mother Nurture profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie G 

      7 years ago from HubPages America - Southern California

      CoachingbyDeborah - Thank you so much for your comforting words of wisdom. Where have you been all my adult life? :) I just wanted to share my childhood situation with others, so others can see that they are not alone and it's not their fault when then react to things as adults. I really am trying to heal and grow as you put it "as a survivor". I never really thought of myself that way. I wasn't looking for it, but I really appreciate and needed your words of affirmation.

      Have a blessed day.

    • CoachingbyDeborah profile image

      CoachingbyDeborah 

      7 years ago from Cincinnati, Ohio

      You are a loving and wonderful Mom! The fact that you realize and do not want to "repeat" anything that was done unto you is powerful and inspiring.

      You are NOT your Father....and as much as the past hurts, let it stay there. I speak from my own experience and the experience of my clients. Any type of abuse in childhood can have long lasting effects, but we can CHOOSE to do better and do different which you clearly are doing.

      I recommend that you focus on the "now" and not he past. Do what comes naturally to you, and before you do it, pause for a moment and discover about yourself what is truly you, and what is past influence. You can conquer this. You can move past the dysfunctional parent which was not your fault, and create anew. You are not a "victim" anymore, you are a survivor, and because of that survival, you make a different and positive life for your children.

      When dealing with the urges to respond in a way that is in parallel with your Father's responses in your childhood, be sure and pause, and if you forget to pause, and you react in a way you wish you could have done differently....realize that it is progress not perfection you are striving for. All parents want better for their kids than what they had, even if what they had was great, and especially when it is not great.

      You whole heartedly expressed that your children are your life, they are your life "now", not your life then. The best victory in moving from victim to survivor is by making positive change and making life better every day through your attitude, spirit and choices.

      You are well on your way to progressing to more, you asking for advice says and means a lot.

      Let me know if you ever want to chat. You are amazing and capable of so much. I know your children love you for that and for your spirit and love.

    • Mother Nurture profile imageAUTHOR

      Angie G 

      7 years ago from HubPages America - Southern California

      mtkomori - My chldren are my life and I want to do what's right. They say that as a parent you do to your children what was done to you and that scares me. I'm trying to raise my children in a positive manner. Thank you for commenting.

    • mtkomori profile image

      Takako Komori 

      7 years ago from Yokohama, Japan

      You have a positive outlook in raising your kids and I admire that, despite the fact that you admit to your father's alcoholism. There is hope, good luck!

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