April 1, 2021

Unhealthy Family Dynamics: 3 Ways to Improve Family Relationship Patterns

Our family relationships provide the foundation for communication, attachment, self-worth and boundaries. The bonds we maintain with family members become our maps for how we treat others and interact.

In an ideal world, all children would grow up in supportive family environments that help them gain confidence, feel valuable and develop strong connections with others. However, this isn’t always the case as different family dynamics exist, and some have unhealthy relationship patterns.

Examples of Toxic Family Behavior

●         Emotional and psychological abuse

●         Physical violence

●         Actions or language that aim to belittle your choices

●         Attacks intended to hit your vulnerable points

●         Demeaning behavior meant to chip away at your self-esteem

●         Indifference and showing disinterest

●         Inappropriate intrusiveness

●         Unnecessary overprotectiveness

●         Excessive demands for time or attention

●         Enabling behavior, particularly if substance abuse is involved

●         Withholding affection or intimacy

●         Actions or language that mock you as a person  

●         Treating children as possessions

●         Unrealistic expectations

●         Threats to maintain emotional and physical control

●         Forcing children to choose sides

●         Constantly comparing family members

How to Improve Family Dynamics

1.    Recognize the Warning Signs of Toxic Behavior

Identifying the sneaky behaviors and unhealthy patterns negatively impact your individual health and well-being is the first step to improving family dynamics. Too many people get so caught up in the demands of work and daily life that they don’t realize family relationships are suffering. So, it’s crucial to take a moment to examine your family as a unit and as individuals. Look for red flags that may signify that your family suffers from toxic behavior and fails to communicate.

2.    Make Time to Improve Family Relationships

Change doesn't happen overnight, and in the moment, you realize there’s a problem. Improving family relationship patterns is a journey. It requires being proactive, mindful of your actions, improving communication and making time for one another.

Make time each day to connect. Turn off your devices and focus on what you’re doing together or talking about. Strengthen individual relationships by talking to each family member one-on-one. Spend time together doing activities such as traveling, game nights and even household chores. Eat meals together as often as possible and use that time together to talk about the day’s events, good and bad. Support one another. Show affection.

3.    Consider Attending Family Therapy Sessions

There are various reasons for family dysfunction, including substance abuse, financial problems, chronic illness, behavioral issues, mental health disorders and internal struggles. Therefore, dealing with a dysfunctional family is a unique process and demands tailoring therapies based on individual behaviors and patterns.

Because family therapists are trained to deal with different family dynamics, sessions will be personalized to fit the distinct circumstances resulting in the family dysfunction and behaviors.  

Benefits of family therapy include:

●      Identifying the root cause of the family problems

●      Improving communication

●      Resolving the sources of conflict

●      Instilling empathy towards one another

Ultimately, the goal of family therapy is to restore family balance and create healthy family dynamics.

At Communicare, we provide a broad spectrum of services to support families struggling to improve family dynamics. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we provide mental health screening, assessment, counseling and crisis intervention to children and youth with emotional and behavioral problems, along with their families.