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Dealing with a Dysfunctional Family Post-Holidays

There’s nothing quite like a lot of forced togetherness to emphasize how dysfunctional a family can be.  As you look back on your time spent together (or apart) over the holidays, what do you see?  Are their issues that can be resolved?  Or closure you need to gain in order to move on?  We know all this is easier said than done, but you don’t have to face these issues alone.

When We Say Dysfunctional…

We mean dysfunctional.  In the clinical sense of the term.  Every family has its own quirks and strains, but this goes beyond that.  Typically, it’s the result of a combination of negative factors—both inside and outside the family—pulling members in varying directions.  Ultimately, interfering with the basic needs of the family unit as a whole.  It could come from an abusive parent, an unhealthy sibling rivalry, the presence of addiction, or any other problem you can imagine.  In severe cases, you might have all of the above.  Either way, it creates a pattern of accommodation where you actually start to believe the dysfunction is normal.  To be fair, normal is a hard category to fit.  But when your family isn’t meeting your needs, it leaves a lasting impression that’s hard to escape in your personal life.

When You Can’t Outrun It…

Even if you left your dysfunctional family as soon as you were old enough and haven’t looked back, that’s doesn’t mean you’ve conquered any lingering effects.  The holidays are just one example of a life lesson learned through family interactions.  If your childhood was filled with nothing but tense, unhappy holidays, then your experience may lead you down the same path—whether you want that or not.  Consciously, you may wish for Hallmark-style celebrations.  But, based on the patterns you’ve observed for most of your young life, you’re more naturally inclined to isolate or push people away.  Even worse, you may seek out relationships that mimic the very dysfunction you’re trying to escape.  Not because that’s what you want, but because you don’t feel worthy or capable of a healthy family life.

When It’s Time for Change…

Give yourself permission to move on.  A lot of the time we wait for family resolutions and/or blessings that may never come.  But you can take steps to move past your dysfunctional family as an individual and achieve healthier personal relationships in the future.  With our help at The Family Center, you can face difficult experiences from the past, identify patterns of behavior that you’d like to change, and work toward healthier habits.  We even offer family therapy, if you’re up for that.  But you always have other options.  Many times, working with a group of people who has dealt with similar circumstances is constructive.  Find the path that’s right for you!

Growing up in a dysfunctional family leaves its marks, but healing is always possible.  Don’t let the holiday season serve as a reminder of what was.  Seize the opportunity of a new year and try to break the patterns from your childhood.  With the right resources on your side, you can move on from this.  Their mistakes are not your mistakes, and you don’t have to heal alone.  Contact The Family Center today to learn more about our unique approach to mental health.



Outside Dinner
Family in Church
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