What is a dysfunctional family, characteristics and how to improve

The family is the fundamental basis of the mental, emotional and physical development of any person; it is where we learn, love and respect, they are the ones who help us develop emotional intelligence; here lies the importance of growing up in a functional family and not in a dysfunctional family, we will give you some recommendations to build a happy family.

The strongest emotional ties and ties are created with the family, regardless of the cultural, economic, race, religion … family ties make us feel loved, protected and supported.

Everything mentioned here may be true, as long as we talk about a functional family, but what happens when a family is dysfunctional? The opposite will happen.

What is a dysfunctional family?

Normally a dysfunctional family is one that lacks affective ties, they cannot cover the physical, psychological and economic needs; This in turn will generate physical and emotional wear and tear on all members of the family.

Therefore, it should be treated by a mental health professional, or else it could last a lifetime and the behavior will be transmitted from generation to generation, take note of the recommendations that we will give you in this article.

9 characteristics of a dysfunctional family

A balanced and organized family favors the fulfillment and personal development of its members. But how to identify a dysfunctional family?

In this section we will tell you what are the characteristics of a family that is not well structured and ends up being dysfunctional.

1. Lack of family communication

A dysfunctional family does not have good assertive communication, one of our recommendations. They prefer to avoid problems, without looking for any type of solution or simply resort to verbal aggression to express what they feel.

In the case of children, they cannot communicate, for fear of the reaction that adults may have about what they manifest.

2. Absence of limits and norms

There is no family organization, therefore there are no limits and norms in the family members, making coexistence difficult.

3. Fights between parents

In the dysfunctional family conflicts and fights are always present, the parents do not manage to have a good cohesion as a couple; They solve their problems with yelling, verbal aggression and in many cases, physical aggression.

4. Poor parents, a characteristic of a dysfunctional family

They are toxic parents, who for some reason, whether they have an addiction problem or suffer from some type of mental illness, among others, cannot take care of their home and children must play adult roles, which makes them a dysfunctional family.

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5. Emotionally absent parent

We are talking about a father or a mother who does not exercise any function with their children; they simply entrust all childcare to their partner. The only presence is physical, they are not involved at all in the upbringing and development of their child; generating in them and the couple, great voids and emotional wounds.

6. Domestic violence

In the dysfunctional family, intrafamily violence usually occurs; that is, acts of psychological and physical abuse of any member of the family are evidenced.

7. Addiction problems can make you a dysfunctional family

They are families in which one of their members suffers from some type of addiction. Consequently, there is usually chaos in coexistence, since many of the problems that arise revolve around the addiction of the family member who suffers it.

8. Abuses in a dysfunctional family

It can be physical, psychological and sexual abuse. People who are abused often live in fear and anguish, they feel underappreciated and the family environment is often very toxic; causing serious emotional and physical injury to people who have been abused.

9. Involve children in conflicts

The dysfunctional family tends to involve its children in problems; As a result, they are part of them, in many cases this type of parents even force their children to take sides with one of the two parents.

12 recommendations for a dysfunctional family

We all wish we had a happy family, however, many times it is not so easy; the family is made up of different people and therefore this implies that there are different personalities, which increases the challenge of living together in harmony.

In this article we will give you 12 recommendations for a dysfunctional family, so that you can build a happy family, can live in healthy harmony and get out of the dysfunctional family dynamics.

1. Manifest feelings and emotions

One of the main causes for which conflicts occur in the family is because they fail to express in an adequate way, anger, sadness, jealousy, among other emotions.

When we are unable to express everything we think and feel, feelings and emotions become intense; when these overflow, they are much more difficult to control.

For this reason it is significant that if you feel that your family is dysfunctional, learn to accept the feelings of the other, be empathetic, listen to each other, provide support and respect what the other may be feeling.

2. Control discussions

Adults, young people or children, can be easily upset, in fact it can happen to anyone, we can all have a bad day. So the point is that your bad character or that of one of your relatives, should not ruin the day and the mood of the other. It is about helping the person who is going through a bad time and not creating a bigger problem.

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Arguments also occur when two or more family members disagree on a decision. In other words, try to find the balance, where everyone is satisfied and where you do not feel that the scale is balanced more on one side than the other.

It is important to know that there will always be differences, it is almost impossible not to argue with anyone in life. What is relevant here will be respect and good treatment when it comes to differing from a situation.

3. Give special moments

The family, in addition to covering basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, also needs to give and be filled with good times. So celebrate birthdays, give love letters to family members, make compliments, plan vacations, play games.

All these will be memories that will be captured in memory for the rest of life; But it is up to each family to leave positive or negative memories.

4. Distribute household chores

In many families, the issue of dividing the tasks can bring conflicts, that is, some of its members will carry out more tasks than the others.

As a family designate tasks that are balanced, according to age, occupations and tastes of each. For example: “you wash the dishes and I prepare the food”, this will reduce conflicts and each person will contribute their bit.

5. Build a happy marriage

As parents we must be clear that we will be the example of our children. So what we do right or wrong will remain in their memory for the rest of their lives.

That is why it is important to form a healthy relationship that is based on love and respect.

6. Say goodbye to routine

Another factor that can affect healthy coexistence is monotony, so we invite you to get out of it. So, as a family, try new activities, visit different places, plan walks, do new crafts, and many more activities. Above all this will help to keep the family fresh and renewed.

7. Good values, the way not to be a dysfunctional family

Values ​​are the qualities that characterize each person. Consequently, your duty is to instill positive values, such as respect and tolerance through correct parenting guidelines.

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As a result, they will help the family to live in peace, harmony and union, a key factor in not being a dysfunctional family, pay close attention to all the recommendations, good values ​​are the fundamental basis of a happy family.

8. Respect the thinking of the other

We are individual beings and for this reason each one has his way and way of thinking. However, in the family we must be respectful of the ideas of the other, I like them more or less; that is, I can give my opinion and give my point of view, but not try to impose my ideas.

9. Share family time

Nowadays it is very common that families do not spend so much time together due to the multiple obligations. It is relevant that they organize their times and at least eat dinner together or that they organize a time of day to share as a family.

10. Clear rules and limits, necessary in a dysfunctional family

Like any company or organization, the family must also have its own rules and limits. As a result, distinguishing the roles of each one and stipulating rules at home will bring order and tranquility.

If there are no rules and limits at home, you are on your way to being a dysfunctional family.

11. Good assertive communication

There is nothing like good, honest and positive dialogue to solve problems. Therefore, families that know how to communicate are happier and live better.

12. Financial order

Knowing how to manage our finances will allow us to live without stress. So organize your accounts and see that you do not spend more than you earn, saving for purposes and the future is also significant.

“Every person who has grown up in a dysfunctional family wonders at some point why their parents did not separate and why they put up with everything they put up with.”


If you observe that many of these recommendations that we mentioned in the previous section, your family does not comply and you feel that they are not happy or you think that they are a dysfunctional family; feel free to seek professional help.

At Hakuna Matata -Psicólogos Medellín, we have excellent specialists in family therapy; get in touch with us and we will help you find that peace and harmony that has been lost during all this time.