Family Dynamics

The Fundamentals of Family Dynamics

Can we all get along? Many people simultaneously love and hate their families. The interaction between family members is at the core of family dynamics. Each member must co-exist with every other member. Culture, the number of members, the number of children, and other elements all play a part in the overall ecosystem. Family therapists often use a genogram to better understand the family—a diagram that maps each member’s relationship to others. 

We joke about the woes of family disharmony—the obnoxious uncle, the ne'er-do-well son-in-law, the histrionic aunt, the little sister who always steals the show. Yet having close familial relationships may afford a person higher life satisfaction as well as lower rates of depression and disease. There are so many things to consider when thinking about family networks: birth order, the only child, rivalries; these are just a few factors that come up when studying the family.

The Functional Family

Peace and harmony may be the end goal in many a home, however, family members often carry lifelong grudges that aren't easily understood. Slights and misbehaviors that occurred some 50 years ago can leave lasting emotional scars that run deeper than might be expected. In a functional family, parents strive to create an environment where everyone feels safe and loved and is treated with respect. It may not be a perfect family, there may be arguments and difficulties along the way but there is also communication and resolution so that, in the end, it all works out well enough for everyone.



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