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Family Dysfunction: When Is Enough ENOUGH?

Updated on May 13, 2014

Constructive Criticism or Condescending Bullying?

We all have families, but not all them offer the caring and loving support that one might expect ––or crave. While some enable a person to develop and grow freely; others attempt to extinguish their goals and aspirations by exhibiting a narcissistic and controlling behaviour.

When people are not supportive, it can cause much pain and sadness. We all want the same things in life; to be loved and accepted for the person that we've become. We want our families to be proud; to stand up for our honor, and to forgive us when we make mistakes ––but that's not always the case.

When those that we love judge and criticize us; forcing their ideals down our throats and discounting our feelings, it can be an emotional trainwreck, especially when they refuse to back down. However, who gets to determine "what is constructive critisism" and "what is just downright mean?"

And when is it time to walk away?

Warning Signs

Below are some of the common characteristics and signs of a dysfunctional family.

  • Lack of or no empathy towards family members.
  • Lack of or no respect towards family members.
  • Lack of or no boundaries such as inappropriate touching (sexual abuse)
  • Destroying personal possessions.
  • Extreme conflict and hostility such as verbal and physical assault.
  • The family hides harmful secrets from outsiders.
  • Ignoring and pretending a problem does not exist.
  • Rigid and extreme rules.
  • Perfectionism
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse and ridicule
  • Blaming and scapegoating
  • Not allowing child to have and voice their own opinions
  • Emotional love and support is conditional, always strings attached.

Note: The above information was provided by

The Vicious Family Cycle

Parenting is a difficult thing... There is no "one way" to foster a mentally healthy and happy child; there are too many contributing factors. There are grandparents to consider, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings and friends; each with their own set of baggage ––and that's just in your immediate family. What happens when you get married?

It never ends!

Families are a fascinating paradox of multi-dimensional personalities. We are great many things; pooled together and thrust into a tiny space where we are expected to unite as one, big, happy family. In a perfect world, this would be easy; there would be no abusive, controlling, conniving, self-righteous or deceitful behavior. And if this were the case, there would be no sadness, hurt, anger, fear or bitterness. Instead of causing pain, we would alleviate it altogether by simply being nice.

But it doesn't always work out that way.


Happiness Is A Choice ––YOUR Choice!

A family is like an onion; sometimes you have to peel back a few layers to get to the good stuff, and even then, you might end up wishing you had been given a better one.

When we are children, our home is our world; so whatever happens in it, defines you as a person. If you grew up in a safe and happy environment, chances are that you will continue to flourish in a similar setting as you get older. However, if your childhood was merely an extension of someone else's dysfunction, then you are far more likely to continue it into your adult life.

This does not mean that change is unlikely; it simply means that you will have to work twice as hard as anyone else does in order to correct it ––but it isn't going to be easy. There is no magic pill that will cure a dysfunctional family; there is only you, and your choice to make a better life for yourself.

But first, you have to choose it.

No one is going to tell you what to do, how to do it or when. In fact, if you're surrounded by power hungry vultures and pessimistic dictators, it's always best to err on the side of caution when attempting to better yourself. Don't expect support from those that cause you the most pain as you venture out on a crusade to find inner peace; unhappy people do not like that.

That is THEIR choice; it doesn't have to be yours.

The Road To Enlightenment Is Paved With Good Intentions

Making the choice to take care of yourself is difficult when you're raised in an environment that frowns upon it. They may try and discredit your need to seek help by mocking you or putting it down. Remember; it was your decision to move forward, not theirs! And for a brief moment, you may find, that your desire to find happiness may be the one thing that brings them all together ––but not for the right reasons.

The first step into finding inner peace is self discovery. For some, this can be extremely difficult and confronting, but it's a necessary evil when traveling to the land of healing. You are imperfect; I am imperfect; we are all imperfect, because it is an imperfect world. Anyone who can stand up and say that they are better than someone else is, in my eyes, the most imperfect one. So why should we listen to them?

The answer is simple; we should not. We should follow what is in our hearts, not what's in someone else's self-righteous mind. If our intentions come from a place of love and compassion, there is no way it can ever be wrong. But how do you move forward when the people that you love do not wish to come along? How can you be happy when there is so much unhappiness around you?

Can you be?

Finding Forgiveness

When you find that special place in your heart that allows to forgive and put aside your differences, it is extremely empowering. You no longer have an urgent need to prove that you are right; because you now have the ability to accept what is ––even if it is not what you want. But that doesn't mean much when nothing has changed at home. What happens when you change, but everyone else stays the same?

Transformation is an interesting concept. Plainly defined, it is a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. However, what if that change is not visible? Does it mean that it never happened?

When you go through a deep cleansing of the soul, it isn't always greeted with open arms as you may have anticipated. The people who have hurt you; though forgiven and redeemed, may not agree with your new-found freedom from their grip. And you, a newly healed individual, must be prepared to accept that some things may never change.

But it may be time for you to reassess your relationships and establish boundaries of your own.


What if they refuse to cooperate?

Should you...

See results

Time To Choose

What if they do not respect your wishes and continue to ignore the boundaries that you have worked so hard to establish? Do you stay in a toxic environment just to "keep the peace," even when there is no peace to be kept? Or, do you just walk away; unscathed, and hope for the best? It seems like a no-win situation, and for the most part, it probably is.

So this is where you must choose; and the way I see it, there are only two choices ––neither of which will result in a resolution. But relationships are work, and they cannot prosper unless all parties involved are willing to do "whatever needs to be done" in order to find a solution. So unless you want to spend the rest of your life riding around on a viscious cycle that will continue to destroy everything in its path, something has got to give ––and someone has to make the first move.

Perhaps that someone is you.

I can tell you first hand that this is one of the most difficult decisions a person will ever have to face. This is your family, after all, and everyone deserves to have a happy one. But what if it isn't happy? What if the drama continues to drip like a leaky faucet in an old, abandoned warehouse; causing even more bitterness, anxiety and heartache? When will enough be ENOUGH?

The real question is; who wants to keep the fire burning and who is strong enough to put it out?

Happiness is choice ––choose wisely.

Why do some people wait so long to be happy? Life is short... Dance while you're still around to do it!

© 2014 Lisa René LeClair


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    • sassypiehole profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa René LeClair 

      4 years ago from the ATL

      Such a shame though... Thanks for stopping by, Denise!

    • sassypiehole profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa René LeClair 

      4 years ago from the ATL

      Thanks, Eiddwen!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Some decisions in life are hard. When family isn't willing to support and strengthen, we have to muster our own inner strength and create something worthwhile for ourselves.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      4 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting and straight to the point Leaves much food for thought.


    • sassypiehole profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa René LeClair 

      4 years ago from the ATL

      Thank you sheilamyers -- It's an unfortunate lose-lose situation, but I'd rather be happy than argue! ;-)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Great information and advice! As you said, the first person to make to the move most often has to be the person who is unhappy and wants something different. It is hard breaking off relationships with family members, but I've had to do that to find my own peace of mind. I believe your hub will help other people living in toxic situations at home.

    • sassypiehole profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa René LeClair 

      4 years ago from the ATL

      Thanks CyberShelley! ;-)

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Thorough, well researched article. Excellent words - "who is strong enough to put it out". Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Thorough, well researched article. Excellent words - "who is strong enough to put it out". Voted up, interesting and useful.


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