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Family Relationship - Effects on Health

Updated on February 11, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

I enjoy writing about personal experiences with my family. I am interested in traveling, any culture, ancestry relationships and animals.

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Family Studies

One hundred years ago families were typically larger, and they tended to live their lives in the same general vacinity. Children grew up, married and usually lived close to their parents and even their grandparents. Families today are a bit more complicated as parents may be remarried with step-children and many family members may live in other states. People are waiting longer to marry and some choose not to marry.

Previous studies on relationships tended to focus on the romantic relationships, particularly on marriages to look at long term health problems, whether they were physical or psychological. However, more recent studies are looking at family dynamics and what that includes, which will probably be love, parental advice or strain. Family relationships play a key role in a person’s well-being throughout life, for better or worse.

You go through life wondering what is it all about but at the end of the day it's all about family.

--Rod Stewart

Family Dynamics

When families resort to being critical, making way too many demands or having arguments, then the stress level rises and health problems may be the result. The stress resulting from an unhealthy family environment can undermine mental health and a person’s well-being throughout their life.

A study of 2,082 people that was completed in 2014, found that a strained relationship with a person’s siblings, parents or their extended family can be more harmful to a person’s health then a problematic romantic relationship, according to the American Psychological Association. The study began in 1995, the surveys were completed in 1995 to 1996, 2004 to 2006 and from 2013-2014. At the start of this study the average person was 45 years old.

Their survey asked several questions about family strain that did not include the spouse. One questions asked “How much can you rely on your family for help if you have a serious problem?” Other questions asked were about how much their spouse supported them when they had problems with their family members and how much they argued with their family.

The study results concluded that the emotional climate had an impact on people’s development or worsening of a chronic illness, such as headaches or strokes. Unlike studies that did not find an intimate relationship impacted physical health when there were familor stressors, but strained relationships with siblings, parents or extended family may be more harmful according to the American Psychological Association.

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Social Stress

Social stress is a term that reflects a person’s relationships with other people and from the social environment. Chronic stress is experienced when there is ongoing emotional, behavioral or physiological stressors that can put your at a higher risk for developing a physical illness or mental disorder.

Those fortunate enough to grow up in a healthy family, whose parents are supportive, will have better self-esteem. There is a very positive effect on mental well-being. Providing encouragement goes a long way toward raising a well-balanced child.

7 Signs You Came from a Dysfunctional Family

Change the Dynamics

If you are from a family that has had many problems throughout the years it may not be too late to change the dynamics. We are living in a time with great diversity regarding politics, religion and other problems. The one thing you can do is to forgive someone for their past words or actions. Do this for your own benefit, as anger increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline, while cortisol (the stress hormone) decreases. Also, the left hemisphere of the brain is stimulated. Letting go of anger is a voluntary action. Your anger might be justified but forgiveness will give you relief, and it stops allowing the other person to control your thoughts.

There are many stressful things in life, such as jobs, caring for children and often caring for parents as they age. Family members should talk and share the burden of caring for a parent. A spouse can help with the children, meals and house cleaning. If you have a child that is ill, it can be a fulltime job, and we all need support in that type of situation.

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Improve Your Family Relationship

There are several ways to improve family relationships. One way is to not play the martyr. Do not help out a family member just to receive praise but help out a family member just because you want to help. Do it out of love.

Learn everything you can about each family member by being interested in things they are currently doing and share your current interests as well. You cannot be whoever your family might want you to be, so be true to yourself.

Do not every hold onto past grudges or bitterness. Pretending to be a over a wound is not a healthy choice. Either forgive or try to discuss your feelings with the other person to resolve that pain. It is important to accept your differences and be grateful for similarities. For the survival of any relationship, know it is okay to disagree. You can still be friends with different opinions about any topic.

Let everyone breathe. In other words, allow space between yourself and your family members. Give space to everyone you love so they can be free of constraints. Everyone needs balance in their life. Do not take too much or give too much.

If there is a person in your family that tries to harm you in any way, love them from a distance. No one deserves abuse in any form.

Family Relationship Advice: How to Deal With Negative Family Members

In Conclusion

Let you family members know how much you love each one of them. You can strengthen your family relationships by being open and honest with them. Let each one know how much you love and respect them. Spend the time you have together in a way that is fun and with open communication.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi James, I appreciate your very thoughtful comments. I am glad you agree.

  • James A Watkins profile image

    James A Watkins 

    7 weeks ago from Chicago

    Thank you for writing this needful and edifying Hub. It is perfectly written and addresses its subject beautifully. I totally agree with your conclusions.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Patricia, I am glad you did not have that disharmony in your life. I have a wonderful husband now, but there was certainly disharmony in my first marriage. That always impacts the children, unfortunately.

    I appreciate your comments. I am praying for your family, so I think you deserve some angels too, Patricia.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    4 months ago from North Central Florida

    You are so right, Pamela. Stress and strained relations among family members do affect behavior and health. I am so blessed to not have been in a family that was rife with disharmony. Even when my spouse and I decided to divorce it was amicable. And we still are friends today. Thank you for sharing. Angels are headed your way today. ps

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy, I agree the that family members often do live far away and this does take effort to keep your relationships intact. You were fortunate to have a supportive family when you were growing up as you hear of so many people that did not have that support.

    Thanks you so much for your comments, Peggy.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    4 months ago from Houston, Texas

    Hi Pamela,

    You write about so many topics that affect health, and this one is no exception. I was so lucky to grow up with a loving and supportive family. As time passed, and as we moved, the ties of relatives became more distant. It takes effort to keep those family ties intact and important.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Alyssa, I am glad to hear your husband and in-laws are supportive. I do think forgiveness is so important as anger or hatred can really damage you mentally and physically. I think it is a choice anyoe can make.

    I do think there are times you have to cut the cord as you said. Toxic people are not good to have around. I think people should be able to still be friends even when they have a difference of opinion. I heard someone say that we can agree to disagree, and I think things should work that way, but they don't sometimes. The state of the world right now is a problem for so many people. It is sad really.

    I very much appreciate your comments. I hope you have a good week also.

  • Alyssa Nichol profile image

    Alyssa 

    4 months ago from Ohio

    It's not surprising to learn that family dynamics play a major role in stress and a person's well-being. No family is perfect and I've always believed in the importance of personal responsibility -- not blaming your parents for your own actions. I love how you touched on forgiveness. Once you become an adult you make the decisions, and at some point you have to realize that you can stay bitter and angry or forgive and move on. I also appreciate how you touched on the state of the world -- politics and religion are two topics that can bring about heated conversations. I think it's important to remain respectful and polite, and if that isn't something that is doable, maybe steer clear of those conversations with your family. I have a unique perspective when it comes to this entire topic due to my own background and I've always believed that family isn't always blood. Sometimes the best thing for all parties is to cut the cord. In my own experience I've found that good friends have become family and I'm pretty fortunate to have an amazing husband and a great set of in-laws. This was an interesting and thought-provoking article, my friend. I hope you have a wonderful week!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Dear Maria,

    It is always nice to get a message or comment from you. I am glad you found this article to be helpful. I hope you have a great week. Much love.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    4 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Dear Pamela,

    You selected two excellent videos to accompany this valuable information on how family dynamics can affect our health and wellbeing.

    Life is so short and tomorrow is not promised. I try to keep this in perspective when dealing with family who might not be on the same page as me.

    Thank you for this insightful read. I hope you are having a peaceful weekend.

    Love,

    Maria

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Doris, I know exactly what you are yalking about as young people today seem to have a different outlook on life and families. I sometimes long for the "good ole days". I appreciate your generous comments, Doris.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James MizBejabbers 

    4 months ago from Beautiful South

    This is a very good article, Pamela. I think my biggest disappointment in family is something that none of us had any control over. I was born into a big Ozark extended family who basically got along very well, even with the family black sheep. As the years went on, the younger ones moved across the country, and the older ones died off. Now it is just my brother and me locally. I have a couple of cousins and an aunt who live within 3 hours drive and I see them occasionally. But holidays are just not the same. I don't even know the children and grandchildren of most of my (paternal family) cousins. When a person is young, they have no inking that someday they may find themselves without family.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ammara, I am glad you found this article interesting and your comments are appreciated.

  • Ammaraa profile image

    Ammara 

    4 months ago from Pakistan

    An interesting piece of information. A good read no doubt.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ms Dora, I really love family times and I wish it happened more frequently. Younger people are so much busier than I am. I desire a good relationship with all my relatives, but there are a couple that can be difficult. I don't let it bother me anymore.

    I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I am glad you found the information interesting. Thank you for your generous comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Flourish, It does seem that we all have challenging family members. I appreciate your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rachel, It is never good to be at odds with family but you are right, it does happen. Thank you so much for commenting. Have a wonderful Sunday!

  • Rachel L Alba profile image

    Rachel L Alba 

    4 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

    Hi Pam, This is a very important subject. You are right, families are very different even from when I grew up. I could understand how ones health could be affected by family relationships. You don't expect to be at odds with a family member, but it does happen. It's more traumatic and I understand how your blood pressure could be affected. Forgiveness is very important and good for everyone. Thanks for this important subject.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    4 months ago from USA

    I like your conclusion and tips too. We all have those challenging relatives.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    This article contains some interesting information that is new to me. Thanks for sharing it, Pamela. You've written about an important topic.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    4 months ago from The Caribbean

    I am an only child, and I have always thought that it is a waste of life to have siblings and not enjoy good relationships with them. I find myself craving family togetherness more than my other cousins, but I believe as your article explains that it is good for our wellbeing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill, That really says it all. It is not all that complicated and we can make a choice. Thanks for commenting. Have a good weekend Bill.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    4 months ago from Olympia, WA

    I love the conclusion! A simple profession of love for them will go a long way towards strengthening relationships.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Jodah, I have seen so much unhappiness in families. I think we live in a time where there is more anger about many things, so it may be more difficult now for many people with diverse opinions. Of course, this is not healthy. Thank you so much for your generous comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric, I do want to help others and your praise makes me blush. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    4 months ago from Queensland Australia

    This is a wonderful article, Pamela....so many truths and good advice. Unhappy extended family relationships can be very detrimental to health.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    I think you write with a purpose of helping others. Wow! And you do it! Double Wow!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Davika, I agree that it does depend on parents for most people. I am glad you like the video also as I thought it was good. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    4 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Valuable points made about such families. It depends on parents and in each individual's lifestyle. The video is useful and Family Relationship - Effects on Health is informative and states all one needs to know of family issues.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric, Love is important but maybe acceptance is another very important point as well. You have established a good dialogue with your young son, and that is so important. I think parents don't always listen, but they jus bark out orders, then wonder why there is a problem. I appreciate your comments, Eric.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Clive, Maybe the phones and social media are probably the problem. What will their memories be when they get old? Probably, they won't be great where family is concerned. Thanks for commenting, Clive.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lora, Your story is all too common in today's world. I came from a dysfunctional home also, and when my mother passed away in June I had to plan everything. My sister did help me some and we are getting along better now due to that happening.

    You do have to remove yourself from a toxic person sometimes, and I understand that. It sounds like you clearly see the past problems, and you have been able to move forward in a healthy way. I appreciate your comments, Lora. Have a nice weekend.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna, I think you summed up this article quite well. Family dynamics can be so complicated any more. Many older and even the young ones often don't have support from anyone close by, and communication can be the key to many problems. People have to be willing to forgive and move forward. I appreciate your comments, Lorna.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    4 months ago

    I read your article with interest Pamela and I agree that the traditional family has changed over the years. So many young people are also moving far away or out of state making it difficult for aged parents. Relationships within families tend to be more emotional and as a result it is easier for people to misunderstand. It is healthier if family members would communicate in a healthy manner, however, all too often old wounds come to the surface and won't go away. It's being able to strike that healthy balance without offending anyone - not always easy and sometimes impossible. I think your final paragraph shows us how it should be. An excellent read Pamela.

  • Lora Hollings profile image

    Lora Hollings 

    4 months ago

    This is a great article, Pamela, with much relevance to family members and how they can impact our physical and psychological well-being. I came from a large family that was dysfunctional because some children got a lot of emotional support while others didn't. If was unfortunate that the siblings who received the most support, didn't reciprocate later on and continued to be insensitive and uncaring to the siblings who didn't. The oldest child especially, who was indulged the most, continued into her old age to be demanding of all the attention from elderly parents and unfortunately, her character always remained very self-centered and not able to share our parents in a way that sisters should be able too- even as far as their care. Her attitude, unfortunately, was I'm the eldest and I make all the decisions here. Your input is not needed nor welcome. I've had to pull away from her. As your article states, we may have to pull away from those that are harmful to us even though we wish them well and remember the good times, love them for that, and wish the best for them. It's a shame that sometimes it has to be that way. But establishing healthy boundaries so that we can go on in our lives and be happy and continue to have and achieve our goals is important to our emotional health. Sometimes, after a healing period, we may also be able to re-establish relationships with siblings or significant others in our families as well. A very enlightening article! Thanks for sharing these excellent suggestions.

  • clivewilliams profile image

    Clive Williams 

    4 months ago from Jamaica

    Family is always important. But not for many modern people who find comfort in their phones.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    This is such an important message. Family dynamics may just be a leading actual cause of such despair --- well you know. A funny thing but love is not good enough. There are mechanics involved. Tough ones.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ruby, So many of us grows up in an unhealthy home or has at least one relative that is controlling. It is important to recognize a problem person or more than one, and to do whatever is healthy for us. We all have decisions to make and unfortunately it sometimes involves family.

    I appreciate your comments, Ruby.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    4 months ago from Southern Illinois

    This is a perfect reminder that sickness awaits one when we allow a family member try to control each and every situation, plus, one who knows it all. Thank you for another well informed article.

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