We always picture a family as a perfect haven, a safe retreat. We think of smiling faces who love and support each other. However what if the picture that you see of a family close to you or even your own is not the same?
Rather the relations amongst each other is described more as prickly or sour? What if the members of a family would rather stay off each other than stay together. Despite all their good intentions they simply do not get along! Things do not take long to heat up and is tumultuous, to say the least!
How does one know if they are in a family which has turned toxic for each other? I will start with defining a family which is healthy. Firstly it is not that normal healthy families do not fall into a tiff, feel jealous or even fight for that matter. Any normal family has its ups and downs, good as well as bad days. However, a healthy family has its foundations on trust, mutual affection and respect. Normal families have the characteristics of a dysfunctional family sometimes but they are not so all the time (Al Ubaidi,2017). They support each other, have their boundaries in place and know where to draw the line.
However how would you know for certain if you belong to such a family relationship where your relation with your siblings is affected?
1.There is an apparent lack of boundaries.
2.There is a lack of sense of safety which could be when there is a risk of emotional or physical harm to any of the members.
3.There is a lack of respect and a clear role of each member in the family
4.There are frequent verbal altercations
5.Unhindered jealousy and aggression
If you said ‘Yes’ to most of these it would be easy to know where you stand!
So what could be the reason for this?
Recent research shows that this could be the major cause of a person having disturbed interpersonal relationships as they grow up. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) is one of the forms of trauma having adverse effects and a leading cause of adults having maladaptive behavioural patterns. There is a wide range of complex effects on a person which affect them through the course of their life. Members of a family have suffered trauma in the form of physical or emotional abuse or even neglect.
Personality Disorders in one or both parent
Personality disorders cause maladaptive behaviour in a person, often there are unimaginable adverse consequences of it. Since a person suffering from it may be having problems of emotional dysregulation and other maladaptive traits, they may subject the people living with them to it. The worst effect is usually on the younger impressionable minds who lack a sense of stability, safety and live in chronic fear and uncertainty with indelible effects on their mind which leave them grappling for life unless they seek therapy.
Lack of boundary Setting
A lack of boundaries with the family members. Not knowing where to stop with the invasion of privacy or trying to make decisions for the others, unhealthy and uninvited criticisms.
Lack of awareness of one’s role in the family dynamics
Not realising what to do and how much to do without disrespecting each other. An awareness of one’s position and role in the family creates a sense of predictability and safety. It provides emotional security and stability to the members within a family.
Lack of emotional regulation problems in the family.
A direct effect of childhood trauma and often in neglectful or abusive family, children struggle to manage their emotion’s effectively. These children are simply not taught to regulate or manage their emotions. Thus as an adult, they tend to struggle with it. As a consequence, there are often untamed disruptive levels of jealousy, hostility or competitiveness. However, how would they have it under control when they lack the resources within where they could draw from. Usually such children were never really taught self soothing. This would show up in adult life , right?
Al Ubaidi BA (2017) Cost of Growing up in Dysfunctional Family. Retrieved from https://clinmedjournals.org/articles/jfmdp/journal-of-family-medicine-and-disease-prevention-jfmdp-3-059.php?jid=jfmdp