In this weeks show we talk about dysfunctional family dynamics. We were with family over the holidays and it became apparent that there were patterns that were well embedded within the family that were classic examples of a dysfunctional abusive family. We hadn’t been home for a while and sometimes distance makes it easier to have perspective. We decided to share our experience in the hopes that your own family holiday memories might be fresh enough that you could benefit from some perspective of your own.

The signs of an abusive family:

  • Outsiders see the family member very differently than it really is.
  • Secrecy – “We don’t share our dirty laundry with outsiders.”
  • Not wanting to bring friends home – there is always a risk when you introduce friends, that the family won’t behave well.
  • Shut down emotionally. Emotion is suppressed or excessive but rarely anything in between.
  • Lack of boundaries – both physical and psychological.
  • Unrealistic expectations – ridiculously high standards before any praise is given (if ever).
  • Unnaturally mature children.
  • Unnaturally sensitive children.

A healthy family is one that is loving and nurturing, respects one another, encourages healthy boundaries, is truthful, plays together, expresses disagreement safely, doesn’t have a double standard for parents and children, praises freely, accepts each other’s differences, is willing and able to compromise, and can acknowledge when mistakes are made.

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