Grief and Loss Counseling, Frieda L. Ferrick, MFT: So Are You Wondering, Did I Grow Up in a Dysfunctional Family?

The meaning of dysfunction is:  “The condition of having poor and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes within a group of people.  If you grew up in a family where the parents were abusing alcohol or drugs, if  there was  any type of violence, degrees of neglect,and or  unrelenting poverty,  then you probably did not get a childhood that was balanced and relatively healthy.  There are many factors in why we develop the way we do, but these kinds of big issues in families meant that the children were not the  first priority and often they  had to grow themselves up without any  real skills to do so.

Children learn by example and if there are missing gaps their childhood, it is harder but not impossible, to treat oneself or others in a mature and kindly way. It is important to have teachers and mentors along the way.

Some of the clients I have worked with over the years are examples of living miracles.  They have had very difficult childhoods, where there has been neglect and or abuse over their time at home.  And, yet, they are trying to hard to be good, responsible people and sometimes parents.  You can have a good or even great life, but there are scars from those early days and it helps to recognize the triggers that are upsetting to you when dealing with your relationships and friendships.

If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, I hope you don’t feel despair but feel appreciation for the courage you show by getting up and going to work and trying to make your relationships work.  Talking to a professional counselor can help you understand why you have made some of the choices you have,  and also do some healing and repair work.