Do you feel like you have a toxic family? You can pick your friends, but when it comes to your relatives, you have no choice in the matter. There are many family members both near and far that have qualities that you don’t like, and it’s not always easy to deal with them.
However, what about the family that you live and communicate with daily? Every family goes through certain seasons where things are rough, and dealing with these each other at these times can be overwhelming. You will experience bumps in the road, such as financial difficulties, job losses, and medical problems, but outside frustrations don’t equal a toxic dynamic.
How do you know if your family’s relationship is toxic or if the complications you face were brought on by circumstantial problems that will eventually even out? Here are some classic signs that your family puts the fun in dysfunctional.
7 Ways to Identify and Overcome a Toxic Family Dynamic
Here are seven red flags that signal a toxic family relationship that might exist.
1. Punishment and Discipline Are Blurred
Many people confuse discipline and punishment, as they are not the same. When you discipline your children, you are teaching them something or correcting behavior. Punishment is something that is done out of frustration, and the parent teaches the child nothing.
If you are in a toxic family pattern, then punishments can become excessive, and the behavior is never addressed. Many adults that don’t know how to handle a situation effectively may use the silent treatment as a method to manipulate their children. To combat this situation, the parent should sit down with the kids and explain to them what they did wrong, why there is a punishment, and how things could be handled better in the future.
Make sure they understand why they are in trouble and how to correct their actions. This is one of the reasons why spanking and things of that nature don’t work. Adults have temper tantrums and take out their frustrations on their children, but they never address the real issue.
2. You Play the Blame Game
Folks who have a toxic family dynamic often have problems with members not seeing the wrong that they do. Sadly, finding fault with others comes easily to them. When a family is toxic, one person may blame others for their issues as they see themselves as always right.
Additionally, they can’t comprehend taking responsibility for his/her actions because it would mean they must admit they are wrong. This should not be confused with people who don’t truly realize that they have made a mistake. To combat these issues, you need to make sure you address the problem with the person.
While it’s never popular to point out the wrongs of others, an ongoing issue of this nature can certainly make for some uncomfortable living conditions. Sit down and discuss the problems and make sure you don’t point fingers but recognize the question that needs to be addressed. In these instances, you will almost always find poor self-esteem or other issues that drive the person’s need to always be correct.
3. You Threaten Each Other
One way to tell if you have a toxic family dynamic is if there is physical violence in the home. Did you know that anger is one of the easiest emotions to show? However, there doesn’t need to be slapping and hair-pulling to be toxic.
If you have one family member who tends to use threats to punish others, then it’s a toxic family environment. An example would be if the parent were upset because their child was going through a rebellious stage and wanted to control them. The parents could tell the child if they don’t follow the rules or do what they wish, they will make them go live with another relative or parent.
While a child should know that there are rules that they must follow, their home and the security of their “safe zone” should never be compromised. Many split families often must consider where the child should live, but this decision should be based on the kid’s best interest and not as a punishment.
When a child is acting out, it means there is something under the surface that’s bothering them. There could be hormones that are raging out of control, or they could be bullied at school. To send positive vibes to this adverse situation, sit down and talk to the child openly and honestly. If you can’t get through to your child, get a therapist involved to keep the toxic aspects of the situation under control.
4. You Deal with Control Issues
Control issues are not uncommon in families. Children often feel that their parents are controlling because they can’t do what they want. There’s a difference in having control issues and being a concerned parent.
If you want positive vibes and don’t want others to feel like they walk on eggshells, then communication is vital. Never put tracking apps on phones of other adults in the home, and you should never use money as blackmail to get someone to do what you want. Finally, while you may not agree with clothing choices or makeup, you must allow people to be comfortable in their skin.
Many people try to control others when they feel like things are chaotic. The way to combat this is to get to the crux of the issue. A parent may be controlling because they fear the decisions their children make will hurt them. However, parents must give their kids room to make mistakes as it’s how they grow and learn.
Rather than talking about the issues at hand, people often use underhanded methods to control an out of control situation. Sit down and have family meetings often and make sure that you are all on the same page.
5. Critical Towards You
Do you ever feel like you can do nothing, right? If you have a toxic family member in your household, then you may feel like they are never satisfied with anything you do. You could pay off all your debt, get a promotion, and have a credit score of 850, and it still wouldn’t be good enough.
When one party likes to criticize and undermine others in the home, it can be very frustrating. You will generally find a miserable person at the crux who is battling feelings of not accomplishing goals they had for their life. It’s often that they will project their feelings of frustration on you.
Since this is truly not your problem, you need to get to the root of the behavior. It would help if you had a pattern for recovery and goals that this person and the family needs to meet. You can recover from this toxic behavior with help.
6. Sibling Rivalry is Taken to Extremes
If there is more than one child in your home, there will be some rivalry. It should be noted that not all rivalry is terrible as it can drive someone to succeed. Sadly, these behaviors can become toxic or even dangerous.
When one sibling tries to blame the other every time they get into trouble, there is an issue that needs to be handled. A parent should never allow a child to humiliate another sibling even if it’s comical. Lastly, any competition within the family should never be allowed to become personal or vindictive.
Parents must foster a healthy relationship between their children by never playing favorites, ensuring all children receive the same discipline types and giving them each equal attention.
7. They Dismiss Your Feelings
If you have a toxic family situation, you may feel that your thoughts and feelings are easily dismissed. Again, this all comes down to control, and the need to be right. The party displaying these behaviors may feel that your opinions are insignificant to theirs, or they don’t’ t value what you have to say.
You need to tell this person that it hurts you when they dismiss your feelings and work on a sufficient resolution for change. Call them out now as you don’t’ t want to wait and let things fester. When you tell them about your issues in the heat of the situation, it’s easier to address it head-on.
Final Thoughts on Handling a Toxic Family Situation
If you have toxic family dynamics in your home, you must regain control to change your environment to a healthy one. Here are some things you can do to shift your abode into one with positive vibes.
- Let Everyone Have a Voice
- Set Firm Boundaries
- Stop Toxic Behaviors Immediately
- Never Play Favorites
- Treat Everyone in the Home as an Equal
- Sever Ties when Necessary
- Get Outside Help When Needed
It’s easy to have issues that can change the dynamics of the home. However, it’s crucial as parents that you set firm boundaries and say what you will and won’t allow. Your children will run the show if you enable them to do so. If your home is a war zone, you must take control of the situation and find effective ways to change the toxicity. You will all be much healthier and happier when you get rid of toxic tendencies.