The normal family is the hand grenade compared to the nuclear bomb of the dysfunctional family
When both are faced with a filial crisis of aging parents being dependent and the adult child needs to take over they cower or explode.
How Do You Know a Dysfunctional Family
1. They lack the ability to resolve conflicts
They have frequent psycho-social blockages that prevent the family from growing emotionally. They fail miserably at moving through all family stages and orchestrating family rituals.
2. They Cannot make Life transitions
Most life transitions in the family, like birth, adolescence, and marriage have been very difficult to make, marked by a lack of support from the parents. Every holiday might have been drunkenly ruined. The parental figures are usually not in charge, nurturing or able to establish establishes clear rules. They have never created an excel spreadsheet on tasks to do to orchestrate a holiday. Like a disease spreading down generations, they never knew how themselves, as their parents wrecked the holidays too.
3. There are murky roles in the family
The chief role of the parent characterized by a lack of leadership of the family and the ability to nurture the children. Mom rarely became the high priestess on Hanukkah or Christmas, the family members generally do not believe the parent is there for them and can be depended upon. The dysfunctional family is colored by bloody strained relationships and unresolved conflicts and drunken ruined Christmas memories
4. They inspire great literature
The family is the inspiration for great literature. O’Neil’s wrenching plays A Long Day’s Journey into Night” portrays the most miserable of dysfunctional families. Alcohol, secrets that have been kept by all for generations splatter the pages of this great play like it does in all the ruined holidays’ children of dysfunctional families recall with horror. Prince of Tides a tale of a southern dysfunctional family gives us a timelier glimpse of a family whose center can never hold together and whose blood oozes all over everyone from one generation to the next. Award-winning plays and films, like Tracey Letts August in Osage County about a ruined ritual funeral from hell when Julia Roberts tries to beat up drug-addled, drunk presiding mother Meryl Streep.
Rituals Bring Out the Worst in this family
When Mom does not make the very small things she was able to pull off like the Latkes or the Christmas cookies she always made every Hanukkah and Christmas, someone has got to be the cook and resentments skyrocket – tempers flare – and the torch just might never get passed.
The family is again thrown into crisis. That means someone just has to take over and the dysfunctional family has no model or spreadsheet on pulling off holidays and caring for a parent who did not care for them.
Learn more about how to work with the dysfunctional family in Handbook of Geriatric Care Management 4th edition