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Monday, May 6, 2013

Four Dysfunctional Family Characteristics That You Can Change

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Four Dysfunctional Family Characteristics That You Can Change   by Karla Downing

Dysfunctional families have similar characteristics regardless of the individual problems. Here are four dysfunctional family characteristics that you can change:

Unpredictability - Life has twists and turns, but healthy relationships are pretty predictable compared to unhealthy ones because people are reliable. In unhealthy relationships, people can't be trusted to do what they promise. Plans are changed and promises are broken due to irresponsibility, addictions, moods, and conflict. People don't do what they are supposed to do because these problems make them undependable. Change this characteristic by keeping the promises you make even when things are falling apart and other people around you don't. You can bring predictability to unpredictability. You can make sure your yes's mean yes and your no's mean no.

Generational Effects - The children of dysfunctional families grow up to be adult children of dysfunctional families and carry the pain into their own relationships. The effects of the sins of the previous generations are passed down to the next generation because family members are affected by the problems and learn dysfunctional ways of interacting and acting in their own relationships. The most important thing you can do is to get healthy by facing how you have been affected and by learning new ways of relating to others and life. This is what redemption is all about. You can't change what happened to you in the past, but you can change how you respond to it and what you do with it.

Denial - Dysfunctional families don't want to face the truth about what is happening, so they deny it. They do this by minimizing what is bad or pretending things are different than they really are. A family that is in denial will rally against a family member who is speaking the truth by trying to get the person to doubt his/her own perceptions. You don't have to allow yourself to be invalidated. Hold fast to your truth even when others don't want to and make decisions based on reality instead of fantasy. God wants us to live in truth and Jesus promised you that the truth will set you free.

Unhealthy Connections - Dysfunctional families are either enmeshed (overly connected) or unattached (under connected). Enmeshed families don't respect the right of each individual member to say no and to choose how he/she wants to live. Pressure is put on each person to conform to the family rules and identity. Unattached disconnected families have members that live their own lives so separate from others that each member feels alone and abandoned. There is no family identity. You can change either of these patterns by learning to be your own person while seeking a connection with your family as a whole and with each individual in it. God made each of us as individuals who have to answer for our own choices, but he placed us in families to be a part of a larger unit.

Change comes slowly in the midst of dysfunction, but it has to start somewhere. Let it start with you.

About the Author

If you need more practical tips and Biblical truths to help you change your relationships, get my FREE "15-Day Relationship Challenge" designed to give you back the power over your life. Just click here: Free 15 Day Challenge Karla Downing is an author, speaker, licensed marriage and family therapist, and Bible study teacher. Karla's passion is to help people find freedom in Christ in the midst of their difficult relationships and circumstances through Biblical truths and practical tools. 

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  1. I am in the midst of a possible divorce. Only 7 days without my husband. We have both hurt each other, but his family is so big, that our biggest issue all along has been them trying to get in the middle of our relationship. I came home earlier and when I logged on facebook, this is what I found. I need some advice of fellow believers. I have been praying for God to show me the way he wants me to proceed, but didn't forgive my husband until a few minutes before I got home. The forgiveness was so strong I almost got sick. All the hurt just left me. Now we are left with both families, mine and his, in the middle again. I know God disapproves of divorce. Does anyone think this was a tool to help my husband? I broke a protective order I got against him and passed it along on here to him. I told him no matter what happens I was meant to pass it on to him. Because of ALOT of infidelity on his mothers part, he has spent the last 3 years accusing me of cheating. I have been nothing but faithful to him. Because of violence between my parents, I have reacted to him in violence because thats all I ever knew.He has also reacted in violence to me. Advice, please? I want to give up to save face and keep my very small family that I have still happy. BUT when I love my husband more than life, I find it hard to just let go.

    1. I know this may come late but I was going through the same thing ~ a possible divorce. I gave my marriage to God, and I asked God to change me. It took 4 months before my Hubby came home but he did! I hope and pray that your family is together where they belong...