Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Upsetting the status quo

Upsetting the status quo, your family of origin's reaction
to your new boundaries.

Or no good deed goes unpunished

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an Article by David Bruce Jr

Now that you have your new found functional boundaries,
what is some bad news you now have to deal with?

You will have to decide, with determination, that you've
done this for YOUR benefit.

You have to make this effort with the underlying goal of
valuing yourself!

Virtually no one in your current circle of friends,
acquaintances, or especially your family of origin is going
to support you
in this noble endeavor!


Because you have changed the rules!

In your family of origin, and more than likely, your
current family (if you have one), everyone has operated on
the status quo, they've learned that 'getting their needs
met' depends on everyone staying in the dysfunctional

In family systems theory, the clinical term for this
situation is homeostasis.

What is going on is that, in spite of the fact that,
rationally, operating with functional boundaries is better
for all concerned- everyone has, dysfunctionally, adapted to
everyone else agreeing to being where they currently are in
the pecking order.

Your explaining, in rational terms, is likely to have
little effect on anyone involved.

I'm sorry to have to break this to you, but this is the way it is.

Regardless of how you feel about this Christian metaphor,
you're going to be in the same boat as Job from the old

You're going to have to learn to love God (and yourself)
for no reason!

Not for selfish personal gain, which is exactly what is
going on if you're attempting to do this to save a
relationship, you're going to have to set your boundaries
because you value yourself!

How can I test my new boundaries with my children?

Go get a fantastic set of books called S.T.E.P.

Systematic Training for Effective Parenting

If you find that you cannot do what is suggested, you still need work.

You will also find that children do not really know why,
intellectually, they do some of the things they do. It
can be counter productive for you to teach with
intellectual explanations,

What you're going to have to do is to teach by example.

This is tough, double tough, but is rewarding beyond your
wildest dreams, if you remain true to your self.


Family dysfunction can be any condition that interferes with healthy family functioning.

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Most families have some periods of time where functioning is impaired by stressful circumstances (death in the family, a parent's serious illness, etc.). Healthy families tend to return to normal functioning after the crisis passes.

In dysfunctional families, however, problems tend to be chronic and children do not consistently get their needs met. Negative patterns of parental behavior tend to be dominant in their children's lives.

How Do Healthy Families Work?

Healthy families are not perfect; they may have yelling, bickering, misunderstanding, tension, hurt, and anger - but not all the time.

In healthy families emotional expression is allowed and accepted.

Family members can freely ask for and give attention.

Rules tend to be made explicit and remain consistent, but with some flexibility to adapt to individual needs and particular situations.

Healthy families allow for individuality; each member is encouraged to pursue his or her own interests, and boundaries between individuals are honored.

  • Children are consistently treated with respect, and do not fear emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse.

  • Parents can be counted on to provide care for their children. Children are given responsibilities appropriate to their age and are not expected to take on parental responsibilities.

  • Finally, in healthy families everyone makes mistakes; mistakes are allowed. Perfection is unattainable, unrealistic, and potentially dull and sterile.

  • There are many types of dysfunction in families. Some parents under-function, leaving their children to fend for themselves. Other parents over-function, never allowing their children to grow up and be on their own. Others are inconsistent or violate basic boundaries of appropriate behavior. Below is a brief description of some types of parental dysfunction along with some common problems associated with each.


    Deficient Parents

    Deficient parents hurt their children more by omission than by commission. Frequently, chronic mental illness or a disabling physical illness contributes to parental inadequacy. Children tend to take on adult responsibilities from a young age in these families. Parental emotional needs tend to take precedence, and children are often asked to be their parents' caretakers. Children are robbed of their own childhood, and they learn to ignore their own needs and feelings. Because these children are simply unable to play an adult role and take care of their parents, they often feel inadequate and guilty. These feelings continue into adulthood.

    Controlling Parents

    Unlike the deficient parents described above, controlling parents fail to allow their children to assume responsibilities appropriate for their age. These parents continue dominating and making decisions for their children well beyond the age at which this is necessary. Controlling parents are often driven by a fear of becoming unnecessary to their children. This fear leaves them feeling betrayed and abandoned when their children become independent (Forward, 1989). On the other hand, these children frequently feel resentful, inadequate, and powerless. Transitions into adult roles are quite difficult, as these adults frequently have difficulties making decisions independent from their parents. When they act independently these adults feel very guilty, as if growing up were a serious act of disloyalty.

    Alcoholic Parents

    Alcoholic families tend to be chaotic and unpredictable. Rules that apply one day don't apply the next. Promises are neither kept nor remembered. Expectations vary from one day to the next. Parents may be strict at times and indifferent at others. In addition, emotional expression is frequently forbidden and discussion about the alcohol use or related family problems is usually nonexistent. Family members are usually expected to keep problems a secret, thus preventing anyone from seeking help. All of these factors leave children feeling insecure, frustrated, and angry.

    Children often feel there must be something wrong with them which makes their parents behave this way. Mistrust of others, difficulty with emotional expression, and difficulties with intimate relationships carry over into adulthood. Children of alcoholics are at much higher risk for developing alcoholism than are children of non-alcoholics.


    This help yourself originally written and developed in 1993 by Sheryl A. Benton, Ph.D., University Counseling Services; updated/modified for the internet in 1997 by Dorinda J. Lambert,