When we take off the rose-tinted glasses of childhood, many of us find ourselves looking into the abyss of a broken upbringing. Childhood trauma, the juvenile exploits of our parents, and even unaddressed mental illness can destroy the baselines we build as children. And they can go a long way to create the negative patterns that undermine our happiness as adults.
Accepting the fact that you were raised in a dysfunctional family household is a painful process, but one that’s necessary in order for us to heal. The way we are treated as children, and the experiences we tie into our crucial developmental memory help us to determine how we define our self-worth, our relationship and even the way we make decisions. Overcoming all the traumas and tribulations of our childhood takes perseverance, however, and it takes committing to a journey that’s as uncomfortable as it is uncertain.
Waking up as dysfunctional adults.
It’s not always easy to admit that we grew up in broken or dysfunctional homes, but it’s a realization that many of us wake up to as broken and struggling adults. The way we are raised has a drastic and (sometimes) permanent effect on the way we see ourselves and the way we see others. It’s a vital piece of who we are, and — unless we work hard to overcome and understand it fully — it can seriously undermine our lives.
Waking up, as an adult, to the truth of your upbringing is a painful and necessary process. More often than not, this occurs when we wake up to the negative spiral of patterns that are leading us to rock bottom again and again, and get real about healing and resolving them on some real and crucial levels.
We can heal the pain of our childhood, but it takes digging deep and it takes confronting from memories that aren’t always enjoyable. Overcoming the pain and uncertainty of a broken home-life takes time, and it takes getting comfortable with the uncomfortable parts of who our caretakers were and who we are today. If you want to heal from your history of broken family debacles, you can forge a way forward. Knowledge is the only way to arm ourselves and access the healing ahead.
The characteristics of a dysfunctional upbringing.
There are 6 characteristics to a dysfunctional upbringing, but each facets can look different in each situation. You do not have to experience every characteristic in order to have undergone a traumatic childhood, but even one similarity could be a good indication that there’s some closets to clean out. Part of healing is accepting and recognizing the signs we’ve been ignoring.
No matter what form abuse takes (physical or emotional) it’s always wrong, and it’s always an indication that something was broken in our childhoods. If a parent hit you, screamed at you, or otherwise used mental and emotional manipulation or intimidation to control you — it might have created feelings of insecurity and uncertainty that’s followed you into adulthood.
Control always factors into the dysfunctional upbringing, and it is something that is almost always consolidated by one person. This might look like a “head of the family” who makes unilateral decisions for the family as a unit, or it might look like one person raging through the group with fear and intimidation to guide everyone in the direction that they want. However it happens, those being controlled always feel powerless, inadequate and resentful.
Fear is one of the greatest tools in an abusers toolkit, and it’s one of the most common characteristics of growing up in a broken home. Whether you were raised with violent abusers or malicious manipulators, there is always an air of fear an unpredictability in the air that keeps victims off-balance and unable to gather themselves enough to fight back against their abuser.
Though it may come from a good place, demanding perfection in your family or your children is toxic and undermining to their longterm happiness. The perfectionist parent makes their child feel unseen and unworthy by determining their life’s path for them; but they also see the achievements and failures of their family members as somehow being tied into the entire family’s reputation or their personal definition of worth. It’s warped an leads to seriously low self-esteem in the victims who suffer it.
When we receive no physical or emotional support from our parents it completely breaks the way we see our adult relationships later on in life.Being unsupportive doesn’t just look like a parent who won’t bankroll a college trip to art school. It can also include role reversal that occurs when the child is forced to become the caretaker (and vice versa).
Not all dysfunctional family households are full of vicious threats and sleepless, painful nights. Some families wear their dysfunction in the form of silence, or a refusal to communicate about anything of substance. In these types of families, emotions are never expressed and neither is any sort of communication that might lead to deeper revelations or connections. You can’t open up to one another, and no one tries.
The factors that contribute to our fractured homes.
Our caretakers don’t just wake up one day and decide to raise us in broken and fractured homes. Life is far more complex than that, and there are a number of underlying contributing factors that can lead to a family pushed to the brink.
Faith is important part of life for many, but it can — at times — be a contributing factor to the trauma and unhappiness in our family. Strong religious beliefs can provide important cornerstones of the family unit, but fundamentalist beliefs can often dictate rigid (and borderline abusive) behavior that prevents the children in the household from growing into self-aware and well-adjusted adults.
Some people love having control, and that doesn’t stop at our caretakers. When one person in the family gets used to being in charge, that can become a role that they covet viciously. Using their power to unleash tyranny, even their best intentions can go awry and cause members of the family to turn against one another and themselves.
Just as someone can get used to having a coffee each morning or a cigarette each day, they can become addicted to violence and the power and control it provides. If your parents used violence to address issues in your household, it could have contributed to a number of others issues that escalated and further eroded the household in a number of subtle and insidious ways…