“Dysfunctional family” was popular psych talk for quite a while. You could blame a lot of bad behavior on having come from a dysfunctional family. Not to minimize the problems that it causes, but my friend Dave Ramsey likes to say that it probably means there are humans in it. Any family with humans in it is probably going to have some dysfunction, assuming a “functional” family is like the Huxtables of Bill Cosby fame.
Pastor Bruce Cole has on occasion referred to the Bible as God’s big book of dysfunctional families, no disrespect intended. A man and woman wait their whole lives for a child to be born. When one finally is, God whispers in the man’s ear, “Show me you love me, sacrifice your child on the altar.” Just as the man is about to carry through with the act, God says, “I’m just yanking your chain, here use this goat instead.” My bad … I took a lot of dramatic license in the retelling of that story. Forgive me, Lord. Just one example.
It’s difficult for me to write about family although I feel compelled to do it. I am the primary perpetrator of bad behavior in my family. I am naturally reactive (aren’t we all?), although I am a student of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and I know Habit 1 is “Be Proactive”. My family sometimes gauges what they do and say on how they think I am going to react to it. I’ll bet you have people in your family with whom you do the same thing. Trust me, It is as difficult being that person as it is dealing with them. You don’t want people walking on eggshells around you, so I do fight the reaction demon every day. The good news is that most of the time I win the battle, but I do have my days. Having a problem person in the family takes patience and perseverance, but it also requires setting boundaries. Sometimes it means tough love and letting that person take the rap for their bad behavior.