Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families


1) Guess at what normal is

2)  Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end

3)  Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth

4) Judge yourself without mercy

5) Have difficulty having fun

6) Take yourself very seriously

7) Have difficulty with intimate relationships

8) Overreact to changes over which you have no control

9) Constantly seek approval and affirmation

10) Usually feel different than other people

11)  Act super-responsibly or super-irresponsibly

12)  Extremely loyal even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved 

13)  Act impulsively ?  

If you found yourself relating to the above list - welcome to being human - and know that these are characteristics of adult children of dysfunctional families.  It is said that 95% of all families are dysfunctional the other 5% are in denial.  Don't know where I got that statistic but it captures just how complicated it is to be human and to connect with the people in our lives. 

In a truly functional family all members are treated with understanding, accepted for who they are and everyone plays an appropriate role in decision making and truly feels like a valued member of the pack.  This is the ideal "Brady Bunch" family but for many of us  most of experiences are closer to "Arrested Development" or "Shameless".        

"A dysfunctional family  is a family in which conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect or abuse on the part of individual parents occur continually and regularly.   Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such an arrangement is normal".  (Wikipedia)  Dysfunctional homes are riddled with tension, secrets, unclear rules leading to confusion, and fear.   

I grew up with 10 brothers and sisters, parents who loved us dearly but were so riddled with their own anxieties, fears and history of abuse that their parenting left many emotional scars.  Years of therapy and regular attendance in Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families Support Group has helped me to calm my emotional monsters and learn to be a bit more at peace in the world.  

“You don’t need strength to let go of something. What you really need is understanding.”– Guy Finley  The process of examining how family stories impact us can be very important in understanding our behavior today.  Children are great observers but horrible interpreters and when kids are exposed to abuse and neglect they internalize the conflict and believe that something is wrong with them.  

If you relate to the list of 13 above I invite you to join a support group for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families - start therapy - read a self-help book (I highly recommend the works of Claudia Black).