Dysfunction is often a cycle. Like abuse, when it is all you know, how do you break free from it? Subconsciously many people behave in ways that are “learned” even though they might consciously want to be different, there are some behaviors that are ingrained into them from their childhood.
Once you start a family of your own, how do you break the cycle of dysfunction and raise your children in a healthier emotional environment?
Forgive your past.
The first step in breaking the cycle of dysfunction is to fully recognize all the scars that you have because of your upbringing. This can take years and a lot of self-reflection and tears to deal with. Having a good therapist also helps.
Reliving the past through talk therapy can help you to see that you are more than how you were raised. You can also learn how to forgive your parents and that is huge in allowing you to move forward with your life. If you are blaming your dysfunctional childhood from choices that you have made as an adult, you are not taking responsibility for yourself. As an adult you hold the power to make your own choices. When your life is not going right, blaming your parents is a cop-out.
No matter how dysfunctional your childhood was, as a adult you have the opportunity to seek out resources that can help you to heal from the damage.
Learn what “normal” is.
When you grow up in a dysfunctional home you are not even sure of what “normal” is. You have an idea but being that your existence was often not happy you may need help in determining what “normal” should be.
This is where counseling can help. Talking it out with a qualified therapist you can begin to determine for yourself what kind of life you want to live. We all deserve love and acceptance and often those who grow up in dysfunction are made to feel that there are conditions to being accepted and loved. You may know that this is wrong but you also may need help to build your self-esteem and feel worthy.
Your childhood is over. You are now in control over what you choose to allow in your life. If you still have a relationship with your family, you get to decide how you will react to their dysfunction. You do not need to tolerate it. If you are at a family gathering and the old patterns are visible, you can choose your reaction to it. Use your strength to not allow anyone to tear down the self-esteem you have worked to build up. Do not allow family members to abuse you in any way.
Learn how to have compassion for their dysfunctional behavior. Many times the behavior they exhibit is learned behavior from their upbringing. Tell yourself that you are stronger than they are because you are choosing to acknowledge the inner demons and work to erase them from your life.
Give to your children what you didn’t have.
You know what is important in life because it is what you didn’t receive enough of when you were growing up. Unconditional love is love that knows no conditions. Accept your children for who they are and realize that they are not perfect. No one is and you know that. Do not make unreasonable expectations for your children’s behavior and do not force them to be mini-clones of yourself. Although they are your children, they are born with minds of their own. Let them use their own minds to develop into the people that they were born to be.
Teach them right from wrong, show them love, compassion, trust and respect so that they can grow up to be healthy, happy adults.
Celebrate the fact that you will be the one to break the cycle of dysfunction. It is not always easy but breaking bad habits never is.
It does take time but if when you work hard on letting go of your past and moving forward, you can wind up becoming a healthier and happier adult.