Dysfunctional Households and their Impact

Many people may not understand the reverberations of growing up in a dysfunctional household. Every house varies in the level of dysfunction witnessed by the children of that home. Most households experience some form of dysfunction at one time or another. However when the dysfunctional behaviours become considered the normal way of functioning it fosters an environment of neglect and abuse. 

 There are many types of dysfunction that in some cases become normalised. These can include: 

  • Children bearing witness to any form of addiction, from substance abuse to work, gambling, sex or food and fitness. Whether it is the parents or other siblings within the household who are suffering from the addiction, the impact on the children can be immense. 
  • Any form of control imposed on children using threats or violence, even when it’s portrayed under the guise of discipline.
  • If a child has to take care of their parents/caregivers, either physically or emotionally. This can be in the case of having to listen to parents emotional struggles at a young age, cheer a depressed parent up, or tidying up after a parent. 
  • When a child feels that their physical or financial stability is threatened by their parents/caregivers, either because they withdraw it, or threaten to withdraw it. 
  • Parents/caregivers who have poor boundaries with their children. 
  • Parents/caregivers lack of availability – leaving the child for long periods of time, unsure when they are coming home. 
  • Unsure of reality because a parent/caregiver is telling them that everything is fine when, in fact the child experiences fear or insecurity. 
  • Parents/caregivers who force a child to take their side in arguments at home or outside the house. 
  • Extremely strict rules relating to politics, religion or any other personal issues that the children must follow without asking questions. 
  • Children who have grown up in fear of being abandoned, abused or haven’t had their basic needs met. 
  • Children being constantly criticised. 

This is not an exhaustible list of all the ways dysfunction can appear in a household. Regardless of the type of dysfunction, when a child is exposed to it constantly they adapt to their environment out of necessity and will develop behaviours and traits that are simply survival mechanisms at the time but could continue later in life and appear as maladaptive traits. 

Children growing up in dysfunctional families will not have experienced a normal childhood. They will not have grown up feeling wanted, heard or valued. When a child is allowed to express their feelings and needs, and feels listened to and appreciated, they grow up to learning how to connect and build strong and healthy relationships. Unfortunately there are many children who have not grown up knowing this and instead have lived in families that have been unable to provide adequate physical or emotional support. This will have been often painful and even traumatising for them. As a consequence they may have lived in fear or felt guilty for not being able to better help their parents or caregivers. As adults they will struggle with trust and boundaries and may also have a high tolerance of unacceptable behaviour. Not having learnt how to form healthy relationships with people, many adults from dysfunctional families will end up in unfulfilling or even abusive relationships. Other maladaptive behaviours that may have formed as a result are an inability, or resistance, to tell the truth or to have fun. You may be an approval seeker, desperate for everyone to like you and unable to ever say no. Not having had consistent boundaries as a child more often than not means your boundaries as an adult will be equally as impaired. 

Unfortunately people often believe that the traumatic experiences will end once the child has grown up and left the dysfunctional family behind. Sadly many of the behaviours that were the product of the home environment often still reside within you. Various things may trigger these behaviours to resurface and you may not even be aware that they are related to your past. There are however tools and methods that you can use to heal these old and deep wounds. At Khiron Clinics we can work together with you to from a deeper understanding of what did and didn’t happen for you as a child. Look at the reverberations this is having in your life today. Recognise the cycles that you would like to change and provide you with the tools and understanding that you need in order to be able to heal. 

Stop the cycle of merry-go-round treatment and find the solution you’re looking for in trauma treatment. Through effective residential treatment, Khiron House helps you find the path you need toward health and wellness in recovery. For information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).

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