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dysfunctional family

‘My dad’s an alcoholic. I was always afraid to invite other kids for fear of not wanting them to see what my family was like. I never really got close to people, now I don’t seem to know how to let others get close. At 30, I really don’t know how to have a good relationship… Most of the time I feel really trapped and alone.”

In Nigeria like in many parts of the globe, do you ever pause to wonder?

  • Why the rate of divorce keeps peaking?
  • Why the children are left vulnerable to domestic and other forms of violence?
  • Why the increase in cases of rape between older relatives and minors are on the rise?
  • Why some people (notably children) are more prone to being violent?
  • Why there’s a rising inclination to sexual violence and youth cultism?
  • Why are there so much “me-isms” in the country?

Several researchers found that adults raised in unhealthy family structures frequently report difficulties in forming and maintaining intimate relationship, maintaining true self-esteem and trust for others, they fear loss of control and deny their feeling and reality.

One study highlighted that children from many communities and schools are currently facing unprecedented levels of unmet psychological health needs. They added that children with emotional or behavioral challenges were less likely to learn while at school”. That youngster who commit most of the violent acts… and who continue their violent acts beyond adolescence began their behavior during childhood”.

So…in today’s piece we are talking about family; what makes a family ‘healthy’ or unhealthy’? and by extension – their overarching effect.

Let’s look at them one after the other.

What does a family look like? 

A family is a group of people living together and functioning as a single household usually consisting of parents and children.

On a global scale, looking at the challenges of being in a family in the 21st century, you might possibly ask yourself “Can they really be a perfect family? Or say what exactly makes one family, healthy and the other dysfunctional?”

I don’t think any family is perfect in the true sense of the word– they yell, bicker. Usually, there is misunderstanding, tension, hurt, anger – but not all the time.

For practical purpose, let’s say under ideal circumstances, in a healthy home – emotional expressions are permitted.

Members of the family can freely ask for or give attention. The more vulnerable (for instance – children are treated with respect and do not fear emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse.

Parents can be counted upon to provide care for their children. Children are given responsibilities appropriate to their age and are not expected to take on parental responsibilities.

Now let’s talk about the bad twin, the dysfunctional one…


What’s a dysfunctional family?

If you came from a family, you’d know this – every family goes through period where functioning is impeded by stressful circumstances say, mishap in the family, a parent’s terminal illness). #Despicable Me, don’t we all?

Healthy families tend to return to normal functioning after the crisis passes.

In dysfunctional families, the problem tends to linger on for years and in most cases, take a toll on the vulnerable, heavily-dependent children.

A dysfunctional family (DF) is one where the normal healthy family functioning of the family is impeded through negative behavior such as abuse, apathy or lack of emotional support.

Perhaps you are in a dysfunctional family. Often, the relationship between the parent and their children is tensed and unnatural; parents constantly neglect or abuse (all forms inclusive) the child.

Unfortunately, like in most bizarre situations (e.g. crime), numerous case studies show that there are usually passive accomplices.

In the case of the dysfunctional family, other family members accommodate such behaviour.

Later in the life, these children end up with poor self-image; feel that their needs are not important or perhaps it’s not right to articulate their needs. They often grow up with the belief that such family structure is normal.


How do you know you may be in a dysfunctional family?

Note here that some of these signs are typical of dysfunctional families or individuals that are rooted in dysfunctional families.

Disclaimer: Having a couple of these signs does not absolutely mean that your family is dysfunctional.


To be continued tomorrow….

Author: Shobo Mayowa

email: shobomayowa05@gmail.com

Categories: Featured Articles

2 replies »

  1. A niece piece, this can go a long way to address societal challenges most especially youth restiveness in the country.


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