Posted by: RealisticRecovery | May 2, 2009

Dysfunctional Family – Definition Part 2

from Wikipedia

Examples of a dysfunctional family

Symptoms of family dysfunction

Inconsistency and Unpredictability

Role reversals (“parentifying” children)

“Closed family system” (a socially isolated family that discourages relationships with outsiders)

Steven Farmer also lists these symptoms:

  • Denial (i.e. a refusal to acknowledge the alcoholism of a parent or child/teenager; ignoring complaints of sexual abuse)
  • Lack of empathy toward family members
  • Lack of clear boundaries (i.e. throwing away personal possessions that belong to others, inappropriate touching, etc.)
  • Mixed Messages (either too much or too little fighting between family members)

Dr. Dan Neuharth – 8 signs of unhealthy parenting

“Dogmatic or chaotic parenting” (harsh and inflexible discipline)

Conditional love

Social dysfunction or isolation

Stifled speech (children not allowed to dissent or question authority)

“Denial of an Inner Life” (children are not allowed to develop their own value system
Value system)

Neuharth also includes these signs of unhealthy parenting:

  • Disrespect
  • Emotional intolerance (family members not allowed to express the “wrong” emotions)
  • Ridicule

Dr. Dan Neuharth – 8 parenting styles which cause family dysfunction

Chaotic (unstable parents who behave in a wildly inconsistent manner with their children)

Childlike (parents who “parentify” their children. They tend to be needy and incompetent. Usually allow the other parent to abuse children.)

Depriving (parents who control by withholding love, money, praise, attention, or anything else their child needs or wants.)

Cultlike (parents who feel uncertain and “raise their children according to rigid rules and roles”.)

Smothering (parents do not allow their children to maintain a separate identity)

Neuharth also includes these dysfunctional parenting styles:

  • Using (destructively narcissistic parents)
  • Abusing (parents who use physical, verbal, or sexual violence to dominate their children)
  • Perfectionist (parents who “fixate on order, prestige, power, and/or perfect appearances”.)

Steven Farmer is the author of Adult Children of Abusive Parents, .

Dr. Dan Neuharth is the author of If You Had Controlling Parents and uses the terms “controlling parents”, “unhealthy control” and “over control” throughout his book.



  1. Just found your site thru google. Looking forward to reading your list of posts.
    Been working with ACoAs for 25 yrs. Pls see me at ‘‘ & blogs at ‘
    Best, Donna Marie

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