Families of all races, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds may experience some level of dysfunction or brokenness. Some families have a generational cycle of dysfunction and is not able to see that this is the way they are operating. Meaning, you may tend to parent the same way your parents did and not realize that your parents were not nurturing or supportive. Baby Boomers (years 1946 to 1964) did not have parenting education classes, they did not have parenting workshops and mental illness was certainly not discussed or explored. If someone was molested, most families did not even talk about it. If a teen girl was found to be pregnant, she was hidden until she had the baby and someone else raised the baby, so it didn’t bring shame on the family.
Let’s talk about the 3 steps to healing a family that has been broken by generational issues, family trauma or other problems. Let’s talk about putting an end to family dysfunction and start the process of healing.
Step 1--Acknowledge there is a family dysfunction and/or brokenness. Some families are good with sweeping issues under the rug and acting as though it doesn’t exist. How do you know your family is in a state of dysfunction? Start asking questions. Ask your children how they feel about being in the family. Ask them if they feel loved and supported. Ask them if they feel heard. Watch your family’s behavior when a crisis or an issue comes. If someone is raped or molested do the family come together and talk about and get help? If someone dies are family members allowed to cry and grieve or were, they told to “be strong”. If there is an alcoholic or drug addict in the family, is everyone try to cover and make excuses for his/her behavior?
Step 2--Deal with your own issues before bringing the family together. This is not as simple as it seems. You may be able to see the problem within your spouse and children but are you able to see any bias within yourself or unresolved pain and problems that are now being carried over to your interaction with your spouse and children? Go get healed from your hurts before trying to repair brokenness so your voice is without anger, pain, and resentment.
Step 3—Parents first. You as parents cannot begin the healing without being on the same page and healing each other. You first must learn forgiveness and demonstrate compassion for each other. Kids learn behaviors, they learn relationship dynamics from their parents, guardians and those that are around them. This doesn’t mean you will never have arguments, but you will have to show how to resolve and manage your conflict. This also does not mean that you will have to agree with everything each other say or do, but you will need to learn how to respect each other opinion and identity.
Step 4—Family healing can begin. You and your spouse are now at a place where you can pull the rest of the family together and begin the healing process. If you struggle with this area, go to family counseling. This is also another area your children will learn how to break-up dysfunction. When they see you seeking support for the family, they will feel more open about seeking their own help in the future.