How does a Dysfunctional Family affect a child’s mental and emotional well-being?

A family is the most important and significant part of a child’s life. It provides them with a sense of belonging, identity and values to be a better person ensuring their mental as well as emotional well-being. Family is the foundation of a child’s life and therefore parenting style that parents embrace while bringing up children can critically affect their growth and development. Nevertheless, when we picture the mental and emotional well-being of a child, distinctly a child who is raised in a family where problems like parental negligence and abuse subsist that impacts the relations between the members of the family, prompting fights, contentions, and struggle. Through this blog, I will elucidate what a dysfunctional family is, its various signs, and how it significantly affects a child’s mental and emotional well-being. 

What is a Dysfunctional family?

A dysfunctional family can be regarded as a family where struggle, disregard, and fights are consistent. Contemporary psychology characterizes such families as dysfunctional. There is a significant and colossal amount of emotional distress within such families, and therefore in many cases, it results in child neglect and abuse both physically and mentally. Children that grow up in dysfunctional families are often seen to have low self-esteem and depression. Sometimes, these children believe that this dysfunctional environment is usual and are unaware of the ways in which they can deal with a dysfunctional family. While a functional family motivates each other to achieve ideal growth and provide a safe haven for emotional and mental well-being. 

What are the reasons for dysfunction in a Family?

  1. Addiction – When the parents have an addiction to alcohol or any other substance abuse, they fail to take care of their children and often become violent and abusive. 
  2. Violent behavior – If any member of the family is violent especially one of the parents, leaving the child in constant fear of being physically and emotionally injured. 
  3. Financial problems – Money is a significant need for the smooth functioning of a family. Therefore, due to certain circumstances, if parents are forced to leave their job or are unable to earn, it often leads to fights and makes the family dysfunctional.

What happens when a child is raised in a dysfunctional family 

  1. People pleaser – When a child lives in a dysfunctional family they are used to being ignored and therefore they fear upsetting people. The children feel that if they upset people they will be abandoned again. 
  2. Always blame themselves – Children might always blame themselves for the problems between their parents, making them feel depressed and unhappy.
  3. Keeping others first – A child living in a dysfunctional family always tries to keep others first, feeling responsible for them and eventually disregarding their own needs.
  4. Poor communication skills – Children with a dysfunctional family are often unable to express their thoughts clearly because of their parents’ ignorance towards their feelings. 

Effects of a Dysfunctional family on a Child 

Living in a dysfunctional family can critically and significantly affect a child’s mental as well as emotional well-being. Neglect, constant fights, depression, and anxiety can have long-lasting effects. There are several usual behavioral patterns that can be witnessed in children who grow up in dysfunctional families. 

  • The child suffers from depression, low self-esteem and always undermines themselves. 
  • They are unable to be socially active and are often very introverted.
  • The child might develop anger issues due to the constant negligence and isolation from his/her parents. 
  • Children can develop tendencies to self-harm and hurt themselves.
  • A child growing up in a dysfunctional family loses the hope of a better life and eventually develops behavioral disorders. 

Children always look up to their parents and they reciprocate the same feelings. When children grow up in a dysfunctional family they tend to develop emotional insecurity and have difficulties in sharing their feelings. When parents tend to distance themselves from children owing to their dysfunctional relationship, children develop low self-esteem, depression, emotional and mental instability. Therefore, children need an environment that consists of love, care, and affection. Growing up in a dysfunctional family affects children in a way no one can comprehend and eventually it affects their mental and emotional well-being.