Dysfunctional Families vs. Functional Families

What is the difference between a functional family and a dysfunctional family? The answer is simple: one family functions. The other doesn’t.

Why is this, you might ask? Well, that’s a little more complicated. A dysfunctional family, on one hand, is described as a family in which the members negatively impact each other’s physical and emotional well-being. There can be several types of dysfunctional families, and many of these aspects can be seen in all. The sad thing, however, is that dysfunctional families are so common that they are often seen as nothing unusual. A dysfunctional family may likely have one or even both parents with or addictions and/or compulsions, which could include drugs, drinking, overeating, and other problem.

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In fact, studies done by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglectshow that children whose parents who abuse drugs or other substances are three times more likely to be abused or neglected. Also, evidence of dysfunction could include a parent using the threat or application of physical violence to gain dominance. Parents might also exploit their children, seeking emotional comfort and agreement in their offspring. Furthermore, parents likely are not able to provide support for their children – whether it be essential, financial, or emotional – and resign or withdraw their aid. Lastly, parents likely portray a strong desire for control of overall lifestyle within the home, and display inflexibility towards “unacceptable” thoughts or feelings. Children being raised in dysfunctional families are often victimized or exploited.

They will likely witness conflict, and become fearful of unprecedented outbursts in the house. Parents might expect their children to take sides in conflict, even if one parent or the other may excessively ignore the child or be inappropriately intrusive. Children might also be raised either in a tight structure, with many aspects of their lives monitored by parents; or, on the other hand, live without any firm guidelines or rules. Dysfunctional families may have their roots in bad parenting skills. One or both parents of a dysfunctional family will often be particularly abusive towards their children, demonstrating power through physical threats or actions. Parents of a dysfunctional family may lock children out of the household, or maybe kick, hit, spank, punch, or scratch a child.

Children are sometimes even be forced to take part punishing another sibling. Now, who would do such a thing, you ask? To give an idea, in the United States alone, according to Childhelp, no less than 3 million cases involving child abuse or neglect are made, resulting in 6 million reported abused children in all. As a result of maltreatment, children are also shown to be more likely to develop a psychological disorder later in life that relate to behavioral problems, eating disorders, and anger issues. Statistics from the study report National Child Abuse Statistics even show that about 80% of adults who had been abused as children are diagnosed with no less than one psychological disorder. About 30% of children who are maltreated will also abuse their own children later on. The parent’s abuse or neglect towards children creates distrust within the child of themselves, others, and the world.

Children do not trust and understanding of others behaviors and words, and even lose confidencet in themselves. Also, they often display hardship involving academics, work, relationships and their own identities. Dysfunction within the family may even cause denial within a child that there is anything wrong going on within their own family. The children will also likely have trouble developing the concept of functional families, as well as positive perceptions of themselves. Fortunately, out of the many families in the world, some, in fact, are – loosely speaking – functional.

A functional family, on a completely different basis, is defined as an environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves freely. A functional family uses respect as it’s main foundation. An emotionally secure environment is created in order to allow the freedom to expose wants, thoughts, feeling and desires without fear discrimination. A resilient structure should be set, with the expectation that – even when experience stress, conflict, or trauma – the family will be able to recover. A functional family also enforces a healthy lifestyle, including good eating and sleeping patterns, along with reasonable physical activity. Furthermore, parents work as a team to care for the household.

Siblings are encouraged to work together and get along. All members of the family are to express feelings in a reasonable manner, and listening to one another is strongly encouraged. Even if the family is, quote on quote, functional, family members are people. They are likely going to be conflicts, disagreements, etc. However, in a functional family – apologies are expected.

Everyone has feelings and opinions – and often times they will be negative. Though, even in a functional family, when emotions come out inappropriately, asking forgiveness would be honorable – as would giving forgiveness. When major conflict breaks out, the problems are to be resolved peacefully. Going back to inappropriate expression of feelings – many people can and most likely have, at one point, regrettably had a passionate outburst of feelings. But in a functional family – the environment should be emotionally safe, so if any member says or does something that is disrespectful to another, this could just be a minor dose of dysfunction.

And so, expressions should be expressed reasonably – and hopefully – in a calm manner. Other members of the family are encouraged not to walk out on one who is having emotional troubles. Communication is important – not only in a functional family, but everywhere. Furthermore, we see a lot of people nowadays engaging in “harmless” teasing – and this very well includes those who come from so calledfunctional families. However, for the jestering to be ineffective negatively, it has to be both sided.

In other words, if a joke is orchestrated from one side or individual and attacks and hurts another who is undefensive, is not considered harmless. Members of a functional family also allow change in other family members – this includes both parents and children. People are not to be labelled, though individuals should be allowed to be themselves. They are supportive of one another, but also readily available to guide another. And if any disagreement or controversy occurs, they are to be discussed and resolved in a respectful way.

Functional families also have clear boundaries around the members’ relationships. To illustrate, no matter how friendly the person is, a child’s relationships with their parents is not a friendship, or vice versa. Also, children are not just an extension of the parents – they are to be treated as individual human beings. Lastly, a functional family follows the prestigious Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” As you can see, the distinction between functional families and dysfunctional families is quite clear: one family functions.

The other does not.