Promoting a Healthy Family System
Working within family dynamics can be challenging, and having a therapist to guide you through communicating openly and honestly can vastly improve the way your family functions. A healthy system is give and take, finding ways to compromise and address a variety of issues and requirements. Instead of focusing solely on what an individual wants, we look at everyone’s needs and try to create a structure that meets all of them.
Defining Family Roles:
During family counseling, one of the main things we look at is what the roles are within the family and who takes them on. People tend to operate according to their different roles, acquiring its strengths and weaknesses.
1) The authoritarian. Usually, the head of the family is always trying to tell everyone else what to do. In their mind, they think that nothing gets done if they do not do it themselves. Consequently, they end up taking on a lot of responsibility for issues that are not their fault in the first place. When their child messes up, the parent absolves them of the fault and blames their parenting instead. The authoritarian can become overwhelmed when they take on full responsibility, neglecting to remember that other members of the family are autonomous and responsible for their own choices, actions, and mistakes.
2) The passive victim. Often, there is a family member who receives extensive criticism and does not stand up for themselves. Sometimes they like being directed, other times they do not want to take responsibility for their life. They may even be afraid. Rather than being assertive, they impose the idea on themselves that other people are keeping them down. In therapy, I teach them to have a voice and become more involved in family decisions.
3) The defiant child. Though difficult to control, their behavior can make them strong leaders once you establish boundaries. The goal is to focus their tendency to always ask questions in a positive direction. Taking the time to answer questions such as, “Why are we doing this?” will prevent a more challenging response such as, “I am not going to do that, you can’t make me.” As a parent and leader, having flexibility and being open to doing things differently can help shape a bold child.