There is a sliding scale for each attribute of a dysfunctional family, with families at either end of the spectrum experiencing the extreme, which is unhealthy. Some of the unhealthy characteristics of a dysfunctional family are-
- Communication that is either poor or ineffective
Listening and expressing feelings in acceptable ways are difficult for members of dysfunctional households. Dysfunctional family members or growing up in dysfunctional family may not speak to each other at all or maybe once in a while. Family members may yell a lot in other instances. In unhealthy households, indirect, rude, and one-sided communication is widespread.
- Comparisons of Family Members
When parents expect their children to follow the same path in life, they cause problems when comparing one child to another in the family which are signs you grew up in an enmeshed family. These comparisons can be overt, such as having more images of one child displayed throughout the house, or they can be subtle, such as comparative comments.
- Conflicts of Power
When one family member tries to control everyone else, or when numerous family members compete for control, dysfunction results. Those who feel dominated may struggle with self-esteem, sadness, anxiety, and trauma-related problems and have difficulties controlling their own emotions. Those seeking power and control may use aggressive, unpredictable, and chaotic methods to do so. When power is unequally distributed within a family, the result might be an insecure home.
- Unpredictable interactions
When children are small and grow, not knowing whether they will get breakfast today or whether Dad will come home and start arguing with everyone can cause a lot of emotional anguish. Children who grow up in chaotic circumstances may unknowingly replicate this pattern in adulthood be attracted to spouses and companions who help them maintain their chaotic childhood experience.
- There is little to no intimacy
In a relationship, intimacy refers to a deep, meaningful, and mutually trustworthy bond with another person. Unhealthy relationship structures and toxic family dynamics, such as co-dependent and prettified parent-child connections, may be mistaken for actual intimacy in families with dysfunctional qualities. Intimacy concerns in one’s biological family can significantly impact one’s experience of closeness, trust, and respect in non-family relationships.
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
People who have been through or are currently undergoing trauma are more likely to use drugs and alcohol. Actively using parents and caregivers cannot provide a safe, loving, and stable environment for their children. When numerous persons in a household take drugs, the family system may become more unstable.