We don’t get to pick our families, and while many families provide support and love, even the most well-intentioned family members have limitations that can impact your sense of self and your relationships. If you are trying to navigate your relationships in your family or you’re working on recovering from growing up in a dysfunctional family, we get the challenges involved and we are here to help.
Our family dynamics can impact us in many different ways. Maybe you have difficulty forming and maintaining close personal relationships? Or you struggle to keep a healthy sense of self-esteem? Perhaps you find yourself working overtime to please people or win them over, even at the expense of your own needs or boundaries, because of how much you fear their criticism or rejection? If this is the case for you, you’ve likely found that these patterns become even more pronounced after some time with your family.
The dynamics from our family of origin inform how we relate to loved ones for life. They inform how we engage in friendships and romantic relationships, how we fight, and how we communicate. No family is perfect, and none of us enter adulthood completely unscathed by dysfunctional family dynamics. Some of the roles that we were forced to play as children have effects that reach far into our adult lives and relationships.
In the ideal family system, communication is open, honest, and respectful of boundaries. Parents take care of the children, and the children feel accepted as they grow into their autonomous selves. Even more simply, in a healthy family system, despite normal disagreements and challenges, there is a consistent sense of peace and harmony in the home.
Conversely, dysfunctional family dynamics are often the opposite. In these families you can experience role-reversal between parents and children, where children are taking care of parents. There can be a lack of boundaries and autonomy, especially in narcissistic family dynamics, where the children’s number one job is to take care of the (often volatile and insecure) parent. Instead of honest and open communication, secrets abound, and family members often triangulate (a manipulation tactic of talking about someone through a third party). These family dynamics can be toxic and can have effects that last long into adulthood.
With the support of a therapist, you can come to a new understanding of the roles in your own family system and how those dynamics may affect your ability to experience intimacy with your loved ones. When we take the time to understand, unpack, and process where we come from, it gives us the opportunity to make intentional choices about how we want to structure our own relationships and families in the present.
At Take Root Therapy, we also work with couples and families that are working on understanding and redefining their roles with each other and dismantling some dysfunctional family dynamics in the present. If you’re ready to move forward into a deeper understanding and implementing of healthier family dynamics, please reach out.