Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MEET A DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY!

First, let me be honest! I’ve never watched The Family Guy program on TV. It just so happened that when I was looking for a picture to depict a “dysfunctional family”, this one jumped out of the pile and demanded my attention. Having said that, we’ll move on to the point of this post.

Let’s begin our journey of overcoming “childhood wounds” by defining two terms we’ll be using throughout our discussions.

What are childhood wounds? This term refers to those areas of our psychological development that were hindered from developing properly during our childhood years. Often, this hindrance is caused by “dysfunctional parenting”.

What is dysfunction? This term denotes anything that does not function in the way it was meant to perform. The “job description” for parenting is to create an environment where the child feels “safe an environment that meets both the physical and psychological needs of the child in order that he or she may develop into a responsible, independent adult.

Most dysfunctional parenting is caused by a simple “reversal of roles” meaning the parents mistakenly feel the child is supposed to meet their needs, rather than the other way around. For example, an unfulfilled parent may hope the child will meet his/her need to experience unconditional love. Or possibly the parent endeavors to feel better about her/him self once the child meets the parent’s performance expectations. Perhaps the mother or father believes the child will bring stability to a shaky relationship. Maybe a parent hopes to have one of their unfulfilled dreams or desires fulfilled in the life of the child.

Are you getting the picture? In dysfunctional parenting, pressure is subtly, or not so subtly, placed squarely on the child’s shoulders to meet the parent’s needs. However, in order for the child’s psyche to develop in a healthy way, the focus must be directed solely to meeting the needs of the child not the other way around.

That old cliché You teach what you live. is undeniably accurate. If you were reared by dysfunctional parents, you will unknowingly, as well as unintentionally, wound your children in the same way that you were wounded. And the beat goes on until an individual (like Priscilla) finds her/him self in enough emotional pain whereby that person will search within to find the internal willingness to first acknowledge this premise. Then this person must be willing to embrace the necessary healing process to overcome the power these emotional wounds wield over our adult lives. And take it from Priscilla, the emotional influence from these unknown, unhealed wounds over our daily lives is very, very powerful!

When Priscilla reached an “end of herself” as described in an earlier post, she finally arrived at that pivotal point where she was eager to do whatever would be required of her to begin the difficult journey to a better place a place where she could finally put an end to the continuous cycle of one failure after another in her personal relationships. Simply taking one step at a time completes this journey. The first step is the hardest. But, Priscilla did it and so can you.

This surprisingly difficult first step is to take full responsibility for where ever you find yourself right now. As Priscilla would tell you if she were sitting face-to-face with you, the truth is you got into your current troubling circumstances by the choices you’ve made all along the way. Once you’ve torn down the unhealthy wall of denial that’s prevented you for seeing the truth about your circumstances, you’re finally ready to move on.

Most wounded people have lost their “heart” along the way and don’t know how or where to search for it. Since Priscilla had lost her heart many years earlier, she had come to see herself merely as a “pathetic failure”. She had completely lost touch with her gifts, as well as her passions. Once she rediscovered her “authentic self”, she was able to reach out to others with renewed passion and bold confidence in her newly revealed gifts. This is how she became what she likes to refer to as a “healed helper”.

Each post of this mini-series will conclude with a few thought-provoking questions. These questions are meant to stimulate your private thoughts in a meaningful direction. They are not to be answered publicly in the comments section. Hopefully, as you reflect upon your personal response to a particular question, a light will suddenly turn on in a dark, forgotten recess of your soul.

Hope to see you next week as we continue our journey!
 
  1. All of us have “snapshot memories” from our childhood. Are the majority of your memories happy? Or sad? 
  2. In these snapshots, are you usually laughing and giggling? Or pouting and sulking?
  3. Do you remember feeling loved, approved of, treasured? Or criticized, unworthy, ashamed?
  4. Are most of your snapshot memories ones of a happy family environment in which the parents and children enjoyed doing things together as a family? Or do you remember your parents fighting a lot?
  5. Can you describe in vivid detail your happiest memory from childhood?
  6.  
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5 comments:

  1. Hi Pat, As you described in your earlier post, you and I have been friends for many years. Both of us were children from a "dysfunctional family", which probably played a role in our friendship. As you also described in the earlier post, you and I had many similarities in our family structure. Our lives went separate ways for many years, and I believe that during that time you and I both experienced some significant healing. That healing process has brought us much closer as friends. As you explained of our characters in All Rise, our friendship can be "complicated". Well, I for one, can honestly say that I now treasure that "complication" because we have now grown spiritually and emotionally to the point that we can openly discuss any and all "complications" that arise. I truly believe that God has given you a wonderful writing gift. Your posts will help others deal with the "dysfunction" in their lives. Keep up the good work. Love you!!!

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  2. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Linda!

    Yes, all the dysfucntion in both our childhoods contributed to the long-time "complicated" friendship we've enjoyed over the years.

    Love you too!

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  3. Great post and I love the questions at the end! A person may not be able to change their past, but they can change the future! Looking forward to the next post in your new series!

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  4. Thanks, Cheryl. I had to chuckle to myself when I read your comment because your dad said, "I don't know if I want to see Cheryl's comment since I am her parent and the post is about dysfunctional parenting." I'll let him know you were easy on him!

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  5. We are now in a pandemic of fatherlessness. Understanding what the conditions are of an orphan heart and the process for inner healing is of utmost importance. It is all about establishing an intimate relationship with the Father. Having an experiential encounter of the Father's love. This message is so important for all generations and that is why I wrote the book "My Father, My Son, Healing the Orphan Heart with the Father’s Love" available on Amazon.com. Bruce Brodowski

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