“Family” diagnosis: how to distinguish a healthy family from a problem?
Man among people
Why do some families become problematic while others remain healthy? Perhaps there is some recipe for harmony and happiness? “Let’s cross the threshold of a problem family and see what exactly is happening in it not as it should be,” writes Valentina Moskalenko, author of the book “I Have My Own Script. How to make your family happy ”(Moscow, Nikaia, 2019).
First, imagine a problem family. Probably someone will find out in the description of themselves. In such a family, all life revolves around one problem and its carrier. For example, a tyrannical or domineering mother or father, betraying one of the partners, leaving his family, addiction – drug, drug, alcohol or emotional, mental or any other incurable disease of one of the household.
This list is not complete, and each of us can easily recall a few more problems. In such situations, children who are deprived of attention are most affected – after all, it is focused on the main family disaster. “Something must be sacrificed for dysfunction, and the first victim, of course, is healthy interactions in the family …”, writes Valentina Moskalenko.
Any family should have important components: power, time for each other, honesty, expression of feelings and much more. Consider these criteria in both models – healthy and problematic.
Power: authority or despot
In healthy families, parents have the power to maintain a certain order. But they use power flexibly. “Problem” parents act autocratically and even oppressively – “It will be so because I said”, “Because I am the father (mother)”, “Everyone will live in my house according to my rules.” Often there is a confusion between authoritative adults and autocratic.
Valentina Moskalenko explains the difference. Authoritative parents listen to children and other family members before making a decision that affects everyone. In autocracy, the decision is made by one person, the opinions of others are not taken into account.
The consequence: if we grew up in such a family, then one day we find that our feelings, desires, needs are not interesting to anyone. And we often reproduce this model in later life. We select partners who “completely by chance” do not put our interests in anything.
Time is money, but not everyone gets it
In a healthy family, time is for everyone, because everyone is significant and important, the psychologist is sure. In a dysfunctional family, there is no habit of talking, asking about feelings, interests and needs. If questions are asked, they are on duty: “How are the grades?” Things are always more important than the life of the household.
Often plans are made in such families, but then they change; promises to spend time with children are not kept. Parents give double, mutually exclusive directions, because of which the child does not know what to do and how to react.
“I’m very interested in what you learned from karate. But I can’t go to your competitions – I have a lot to do. ” Or “I love you. Go for a walk soon – don’t get under your feet. ” “Problem parents” could say: “Time is money.” But at the same time, the most precious and valuable creature – his own child – did not get this jewelry.
The consequence: our interests and needs are not important. We are not worthy of time and attention. Then we find a partner with whom we rest at different times, get used to the fact that we never have enough strength for us – a husband or wife has a lot of work, there are friends, important projects.
The right to entertainment
In healthy families, in addition to the necessary compulsory tasks – work, study, cleaning – there is a place for games, recreation, entertainment. Serious and “frivolous” things are balanced. Responsibilities and obligations are distributed among family members equally, in fairness. In problem families, there is no balance. The child grows up early, assumes adult functions.
The duties of mother and father are hung on him – for example, to educate younger brothers and sisters. Often you can hear the address of older children – “You are already an adult.” Or the other extreme: children are left to their own devices. They have a lot of time. Parents buy them money, if only they would not interfere. Chaos is one of the options for unhealthy relationships in the family. There are no rules, no one is responsible for anything. There are no rituals and traditions. Often households walk in dirty or torn clothes, live in an untidy apartment.
Effects: You can’t spend time relaxing. You can’t relax. We must take care of others, but not of ourselves. Or an option: why take on some business, this makes no sense.
Feelings have a place?
In healthy families, other people’s feelings are appreciated, they can be expressed. In troubled families, many emotions are prohibited. “Do not roar,” “Something you are not too funny”, “You can’t get angry.” In such families, children often experience guilt, resentment and shame for their own feelings. In healthy families, the whole gamut of feelings is welcomed: joy, sadness, anger, peace, love, hate, fear, courage. We are living people – this motto is secretly present in such families.
Effects: we learned to hide our true feelings not only from others, but also from ourselves. And this prevents us from being sincere, open, and appearing in relationships with partners and our own children. We pass the baton of insensibility further down the stage.
Honesty is necessary
In a healthy relationship, we are honest with loved ones. Children and parents share with each other. Unhealthy families have many lies and secrets “out of the blue”. Households get used to lie and get out of nothing. Some secrets are kept locked for years, passed down from generation to generation, “crawling out” in the most unexpected and terrible way. Maintaining a secret requires a lot of energy from a family system. And in a healthy family, this energy could go to development.
Effects: we learned to lie not only in large, but also in small things. An honest conversation is not available to us. And we reproduce this model in our future relationships.
Collaboration and personal growth
In healthy families, its members support the development of others, help in this. Rejoice in victories, empathize with failures. Respect other people’s feelings and desires. Such a family recognizes itself as a single group, where one for all and all for one. Everyone’s contribution to the common cause is appreciated.
In troubled families, on the contrary, personal development is rarely encouraged. “Why do you need this? I’d better find a side job. ” Support and approval can only be obtained if the actions of one family member benefit the family. Why did my wife decide to go painting at 35? What is the use of it? It would be better if the windows were washed.
Effects: we have learned and know how to concentrate on others, but not on ourselves. And from this point, one step to co-dependence.
How to become a healthy family?
The psychologist Claudia Black, whose words are given in the book, defined the rules of a dysfunctional family with three “no”: do not say, do not feel, do not trust. Valentina Moskalenko gives 10 signs of a healthy family, which we should strive for.
1. Problems are recognized and resolved.
2. The freedom of perception, thought, discussion, choice and creativity, the right to have one’s feelings and desires is encouraged.
3. Each family member has its own unique value, the differences between relatives treasure.
4. Family members are able to take care of themselves and do not need hyper care.
5. Parents do what they say, keep promises.
6. Roles in the family are chosen, not imposed.
7. It has a place for entertainment and relaxation.
8. Mistakes are forgiven – they learn from them.
9. The family is open to new ideas, it exists for the development of man, and not for suppression.
10. Family rules are flexible, they can be discussed and changed.
Someone alone in the family once discovers that he does not live like that. And if he tries to realize this and apply it in his life, he will take a big step towards recovery.