Dysfunctional families are every where. Most often the family is caught up in all the drama around them that they don't notice how much it can impact the kids. This week we will break down some specific ways that kids are impacted by dysfunction from Pia Mellody's book Facing Codependence. A child naturally feels valuable. This instinct is built in from infancy.
Infertility is a very stressful thing to endure in a couple's relationship. The experience of infertility literally has an impact on every aspect of your life, including your relationship with your partner. Each person experiencing infertility responds in very different ways. Today I will talk about coping with the stress of infertility and its impact on relationships.
Teri did a great job yesterday introducing Shame, and how lethal of an issue it can be. Another way I like to describe shame is to say it's the feeling you get when you feel bad & horrible when something goes wrong, but you didn't do anything wrong! Can you relate? It's feeling toxic guilt when there is no blame needed to be taken. Let's look at 5 more characteristics of a Shame based family environment:
- A family that doesn't allow mistakes to be made will have family members grow up thinking perfectionism is required. No one is perfect so mistakes will happen, it's natural! A child who grows up in this type of family will demand perfectionism from themself, set high standards, and hold others to them as well.
- A family who gives messages that say "You can never do anything right", will create children and (later) adults who become failure prone. Whether it's directly saying these statments or indirectly indicating the message, the family members will grow up thinking they cannot do for themselves and think they are "screw ups" and will act that way.
- A family that pushes for "always doing better" create children and adults later in life who are over-achievers. We are not saying do not encourage your children. We are saying find a balance in allowing them to be them, and encouraging them.
- A family that has limited expressions of love, may result in children who are desperate for approval. Two of our core emotional needs are to be loved and to know we are wanted. If children don't get these needs met, they walk around "hungry" and try to get "fed" by other means (approval). This will extend into adulthood as well.
- A family that shows conditional support (aka, "You're accepted/loved as long as you act the way we want"), will have children who have their self-worth dependent on other's opinions. Unconditional love and support ("I love you even if you upset me & if you act in a manner that is displeasing to me") will allow a child's self-esteem to grow and their self-worth to become established. Use discipline to communicate dissatisfaction with a displeasing behavior, not withdrawing support and love.
Do you see yourself or your family in any of these characteristics? There is help & hope for overcoming Shame. Please check back in with us on Thursday as we continue our discussion & revisit 5 more characteristics of shame-based family environments. Thanks for reading!
Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counselingat Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.
Our family traditions were different than most people growing up. After my 3rd grade year, both sets of grandparents began living in warmer climates for the fall and winter months-- one set in Arizona, and one set in Florida. While Christmas was GREAT (we got to visit our Florida grandparents every Christmas), Thanksgiving was a bit lonely without our grandparents there to celebrate with us. While friends were celebrating with all of their extended family and relatives, because our family is so small, it was only my parents and my sister. One "non-traditional" tradition we started was to have spaghetti instead of a traditional turkey dinner. You might be asking "how in the world would that ever feel like Thanksgiving"? As said before, while this felt a bit "off", even to me as a young child, it did teach me an important lesson as an adult.
Thanksgiving truly isn't about the food-- it's about what family you have and what you make of it.
Our family used to play games and watch movies, and later in life, the conversations we would have around the dinner table would become invaluable to me. After my father passed away in 2002, I wouldn't trade those holidays for the world.
Now, as an adult, I see how important it is to not take for granted family relationships around the holidays. While we have moved on from our spaghetti tradition, my sister and I have developed our own traditions that we hope to pass along to our children. We have reunited with the traditional turkey dinner in our own marriages, but have also included some extra "non-traditional" traditions to pass along to our own children through the years. More than anything, we want them to learn the same lesson that we did-- regardless of what family you have around you or what food you eat, you can make the best of it and find thankfulness in whatever you do!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.