adult children of family dysfunction

The Problem

All families have dysfunctional components – after all, “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23) but sometimes our families of origin impact our emotions, behaviors and thoughts as adults in negative or unhealthy ways.

As Adult Children of Family Dysfunction, our feelings, thoughts, experiences, actions, and assumptions from childhood will affect us throughout our adulthood. When our experiences come from a dysfunctional home, we can create a “secret” about family dysfunction that we carry with us throughout life.

As Adult Children of Family Dysfunction, our survival skills from childhood, such as isolation, perfectionism, and family peacemaker, has become our habits and hang-ups as adults. And, there are a host of other characteristics we have exhibited as adults.

  • we have had difficulty expressing our needs or feelings
  • we found ourselves constantly seeking the approval of others
  • we have seen ourselves as a victim and blamed our circumstances on others
  • we have had relationships with people we wanted to take care of or rescue
  • we judged ourselves harshly, especially when things did not go perfectly
  • we spent time cleaning up the problems of others while neglecting our own
  • we experienced a deep loss of trust in others
  • we lived in anxiety, walking on egg shells, waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • we overreacted to change
  • we struggled with unexplained anger, rage, and sadness
  • we feared both emotional and physical intimacy
  • we strove for perfection or avoided responsibility altogether
  • we sought out high risk behaviors, such as speeding in a car, acting out sexually, substance abuse, or fighting.

This list is not all inclusive, so we may have experienced other behaviors and feelings that have led us to living a life “attached” to the dysfunctional family member even if the family member no longer is living. Regardless of “how we got here” we have adopted many dysfunctional ways of behaving which are keeping us from experiencing a healthy and free life.

The Solution

As Adult Children of Family Dysfunction, we need to discover the difference between our childhood experience and our experiences today. We need to allow ourselves to be angry about the bad things that have happened to us and then grieve the past. We no longer desire our past to control us. However, to do this we need to face our past, allow ourselves to heal, and then take hold of a new life from behaviors learned in recovery.

  • we can take responsibility for our own behavior and choices
  • we can set clear limits and boundaries with others
  • we can accept our family members as they are
  • we can seek out healthy relationships in recovery and move away from isolation
  • we can be honest with our circumstances, our feelings, and ourselves
  • we can accept our imperfections
  • we can discover our own needs and give to ourselves
  • we can allow our yes to be yes and our no to be no
  • we can learn to express ourselves calmly without being defensive or overreacting
  • we can allow ourselves to learn how to trust in others
  • we can learn to behave as adults by setting standards of behavior for others and ourselves
  • we can commit to attending Celebrate Recovery on a regular basis.

As a result, we will be able to see our dysfunctional family as they are and release them from affecting our lives negatively from this day forward. We will now be able to “grow” emotionally and spiritually and, in turn, learn to accept and love ourselves all the while remembering God loves us just the way we are.

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