In troubled families, abuse and neglect are permitted; it’s the talking about them that is forbidden.
Dysfunctional Families | What are the signs?
There are many signs you have been brought up in a dysfunctional family. Below are a few:
Abuse or Neglect. Abuse would be physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Neglect would be not attending to a child’s physical or emotional needs.
Denial and Secrets. There is a denial that any abuse is happening. There are secrets that you are not allowed to tell.
Addictions. Alcohol or drug addictions as well as gambling and sexual addictions.
Silence. The dysfunctional family will silence a child. There is usually poor communication. There will also be a denial of a child’s feelings. The “let’s not talk about it” will be the key message.
Lack of Boundaries. Few boundaries exist in a toxic family. There is a lack of emotional and physical boundaries.
Enmeshment. Being close is good, but there is “too close”. You will always be pleasing others. You feel responsible for their happiness and well-being. Your parents’ self-work will hinge on your success. Your parent/parents know everything about your life. Your parents do not encourage you to seek out and follow your dreams. You try to avoid conflicts and have trouble saying no. You do not really know who you are.
Poor Communication. There will be mixed messages, criticism, and ridicule.
Lack of Love, Compassion and/or Intimacy. Love will be held as a form of punishment (silent treatment, stonewalling).
Closed Family System. Isolating the family from extended family, friends, schools or religious systems.
Perfectionism. Being perfect is not possible. Perfectionism is damaging and an unhealthy way to try and gain control and master.
Denial of Spiritual Focus. This may include not being allowed to participate in any religious or spiritual services, meditating and examining beliefs.
Sharon Martin, LSCW, The Enmeshed Family System: What it is and how to break free
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