Families work as a system. The system can either work well or it can be highly dysfunctional. Whichever it is, the likelihood is that its patterns of interrelating were set up very early in its formation and may even have inherited intergenerational influences.
The problems that exist in families can be:
Parents not bonding with their children and resenting them for consuming their time and energy
A basic lack of cohesion where the parents do not bond everyone else together
Bullies within the family that are not respectful of others’ needs and desires
A lack of family time where work, career and making money become more important than its members
The inability of the parents to make dramatic changes when needed and instead hold on to outdated beliefs
A lack of rules, guidelines, values and processes to solve disputes and re-bond its members
Notice how I have not mentioned love because love is an emotional experience driven by the hormones oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins that can only be experienced when the basic needs of the individual are met within the family. Whilst love bonds a well-functioning family, it cannot flourish in a dysfunctional family.
It is the job of the parent to always pursue family harmony and function. Unfortunately, many people who become parents did not experience that when they grew up, were never taught those skills, think those skills are not important or suffer themselves from mental illnesses.
A child does not ask to be born and when you have a child you remain a parent for the rest of your life. It is a life-long responsibility, not just until they leave home or something more important in your life comes along.
If a parent has not fulfilled those duties it can scar the relationship between siblings for life so the family never becomes functional, bonded and full of love.
Offspring are left with an inability to connect and may experience resentment and anger towards their siblings. The family struggles with a litany of emotional wounds.
No one really has any real idea what is involved in the work of making a family until they have a screaming infant in their arms for whom they are now wholly responsible. It’s a big job. You will get a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong.
Tips on what to do to create a happy, healthy family:
► Children need time and attention; happily put your phone away and pay attention to your child so they learn to interact with others in a healthy and emotionally rewarding way.
► Always install codes of conduct that bond everyone together so each member of the family can have a sense that they can rely on the others when needed and that they are never a burden.
► Teach your children to be respectful of good boundaries and practise this yourself.
► The family that eats, plays, laughs, cries and has life experiences together is the family that will go a long way to being functional, bonded and happy. There are poor happy families, poor dysfunctional families, rich miserable families but the only family that is rich is the one that is happy and hangs out together.
► Remember your way is not always the right way because everything changes all the time so you need to be prepared to make dramatic changes several times during the life of the family, otherwise you are the problem, not the solution.
► Every family must have processes, procedures and protocols so it functions as a living, breathing unit itself where forgiveness, kindness, charity and love can grow. Home is where the heart is and people feel safe.
Book your appointment with Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH by calling 02 8021 6429.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist. Counsellor, PACFA registered Mental Health Professional and Naturopath in Sydney, who is also trained as systemic family therapist. You can get help by booking an appointment with me at the Australian Health & Education Centre.