Everyone has had a conflict with their family at some time or another, but for some it is more of a lifetime struggle involving much confusion and emotional pain. Many students come to college thinking that this change will relieve them of their family stress. Very often, however, this change only exacerbates the problem and students find themselves being pulled back into the family chaos.
The term is often overused and some people believe that every family is dysfunctional to some extent. Here, a dysfunctional family is one characterized by:
The family problem can take many different forms such as:
People from dysfunctional families can end up in abusive relationships or find themselves unable to maintain relationships. Other areas in which adult children often report problems include but are not limited to:
Change is something which most human beings resist and/or have great difficulty with, and it is not different for the adult child of a dysfunctional family. One of the hardest things one must realize is that change is up to the individual, not anyone else, including family. We can’t wait around for others to change or we may become paralyzed ourselves.
Often adult children of dysfunctional families will feel controlled by others and at the same time will not take responsibility for others' thoughts, feelings and actions. To break free, one must take back control over one’s life and give back control of other’s lives. As one begins to take back responsibility for one’s own life, a process of letting go of blame emerges. Blame is very often understandable, but instead of helping it keeps a person tied to the chains of family chaos. A very important step is learning to set boundaries--what one is willing and not willing to do and/or tolerate in relationships.
Breaking free involves developing a new, healthier support system of people who can respect boundaries and changes that occur. Support can be found from a variety of resources such as: