From: The Christian Post - June Hunt
Cathey Brown knows the painful dynamic of a dysfunctional family. She knows it because she has lived it. She learned to pretend that everything was “great” when paraded to church on Sundays … even though most weekends she avoided her drunken father … and tried not to notice her mother’s bruises.
Young Cathey learned to create her own reality because no one confronted the harsh realities of alcoholism and domestic violence. She learned that living to “look good” was more important than living with integrity … and that keeping secrets was far better than telling the truth.
What Is a Dysfunctional Family?
Like millions of others, Cathey grew up in a dysfunctional family in which family members failed to function together in a healthy way. Just like Cathey, millions of others grow up in family relationships that are fractured with family roles that are a distortion of what they should be.
It’s not unusual to see a role reversal take place. Simply said, a parent becomes emotionally dependent on a child; therefore, the child parents the parent.
In a functional family, if one parent begins to engage in negative behavior, the other parent is able to confront that behavior because both are emotionally healthy and secure in the positive strength of their relationship. In a dysfunctional family, a passive parent enables or allows the destructive behavior of the problem parent to continue by failing to take adequate steps to confront him/her.
The Damage of Dysfunction
As a result, a destructive cycle of behavior envelops the entire family. Often the passive parent will make excuses or try to mitigate the damage that the problem parent has created, while failing to address the harmful actions that are destroying the family.
In Cathey’s situation, her father’s alcoholism and violence ripped the family apart, even as her mother (sometimes with a blackened eye) denied there was any problem at all. Fear, shame and a lack of healthy boundaries created an environment for dysfunction to flourish.