What makes a family functional vs. dysfunctional


Well-Known Member
Person who wrote this article must have spied on my family for "dysfunctional" part. I copied too much...sorry. For me, I stopped reading at the end of the article and skipped everything else. I'm in a rush to get ready for work.

What Makes a Family Functional vs Dysfunctional?
By Elvira G. Aletta, Ph.D.

The other day I was responding to someone who was dreading the holidays with her ‘dysfunctional family’ (her words). It got me thinking about that word, dysfunctional, and how it implies that there is an opposite, functional, family somewhere. What does that look like? Is it a Perfect Family? Some Stepford-like pod of people who never fight, are always neat and smiling? Yeesh! That sounds horrible. In fact it sounds downright dysfunctional!

So what is a functional family? How do we know if we have one? How would you define a functional family?

The study of family dynamics, family therapy and treatment are complex and a whole field of psychology in itself. While I don’t have all the answers, I do have some thoughts. These impressions come as much from my experience as from education and training. No family is perfect, even the functioning ones. My family of origin was what I’d call dysfunctionally functional. From them I learned as much what not to do as the opposite. In my work with couples and counseling parents, I see what works and what doesn’t.

Read the article here: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/12/15/what-makes-a-family-functional-vs-dysfunctional/

{{{note from cheryl aka runawaybunny: Copying and pasting an entire article, story or any other copyrighted materials here is a no-no because it violates the copyright of the author and/or the site that it was copied from. It's okay to post small excerpts and/or your own comments and a link to the original work. Thank you in advance for understanding.}}}
Last edited by a moderator:

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Very nice. I especially liked the emphasis on respect for one another and the way it was described. I finished the article and explored some of the links.

Thank you, Serenity.



Well-Known Member
Respect for one another and loving siblings was definitely not on our agenda in our family. Neither was boundaries. My grandma said: "There are no secrets in families" so I got an earful from both her and my mother about me, Thing 1 and Thing 2 because nothing was sacred.


Well-Known Member
I read the article, Serenity. How do young people get themselves in such a complicated situation? Was my first response. Then, when I read the response, which I felt was perfect, I started seeing the universality of the situation described, and even similarities to myself and my own situation, which I will not share here. Thank you very much, Serenity for posting a very illuminating article. COPA
The list was very well thought out, and I certainly don't disagree with any of the benchmarks. However, I would have added something about the presence of happiness, laughter, and joy. Our home is almost devoid of joy, laughter, and smiles. I am completely worn down from the lack of joy. (Our home lacks most of the things in the list, to be honest, and I'm worn out from the grind of trying to just emotionally survive.)

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Our home is almost devoid of joy, laughter, and smiles. I am completely worn down from the lack of joy.

I'm so sorry this is happening. Can you find time to walk alone in the morning as the sun is coming up ~ hopefully, before anyone else is awake? You have your hands full with two little girls. It will be difficult to find time for yourself, but that is what you need to do. How does that old saying go...when mama's not happy, ain't nobody happy.

This is true.

Childcare is overwhelming. We cannot give from an empty cup, only from one overflowing its brim.

I am glad you found the site, and happy you posted in. It's a great, safe place and I think it will make a nice difference for you.

Know what?

If that is your real picture, you will need to change it. We never do know who might be on this very public site. It is best to protect your anonymity, and that of your children.

Welcome to Conduct Disorders.




Well-Known Member
Hi CD, welcome to the forums!

Do you have a great relationship with your husband? Are you on the same page?

Is it mostly your 11yo or do you have problems with your other child? I see that she is suffering from depression. Is that more related to the home situation or is it organic as well?

Do you have a grandparent or someone else to watch the 11yo while you and your hubby take the 9yo to do some things alone (this is assuming that her sibling is problematic for her and she needs a break. If this isn't the case, disregard).

This is so heartbreaking.

I wish I could help.

Stay with us.