Exclusively for readers of Weinholds.org, Barry K Weinhold is offering this free worksheet, “How Dysfunctional Was Your Family?”
This personal inventory will help you will help you see yourself and your childhood more clearly and determine how dysfunctional your family was, so that you can begin to change your self and your life.
Families are described as “dysfunctional” because they contain codependent, counter dependent or addictive relational dynamics that interfere with both the parents’ and children’s social and emotional development. Dysfunctional family patterns are caused primarily by parents who unconsciously pass on their own childhood traumas, including abandonment neglect and abuse, to their children. Children who grow up in dysfunctional families come to believe that abandonment, abuse and neglect are “normal.”
Because parents are either not aware or are in denial of their own childhood trauma, they are unable to empathize with their children’s suffering and pain. Parents may even be cruel and pass on their abuse to their children “for their own good.” Parents who were abused as children often deny their own feelings of fear and helplessness.
They may even feel contempt toward their smaller and weaker children because it reminds them of how they felt as children.
Most parents are not aware they have feelings of helplessness, jealousy and loneliness, until a situation resembling a childhood trauma triggers a strong emotional response. The moment of a strong emotional response is a window for becoming self-aware. Parents can either look inward and become self-reflective, examining just why they are feeling so strongly. Or they can blame everything on their child and perpetuate the intergenerational cycle of abuse.