Do you tell family they are dysfunctional?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2005
Do you tell family they are dysfunctional?
Mon, 11-07-2011 - 12:43pm

I was wondering, have any of you tried to explain to your family how they are dysfunctional? Or exactly what dynamics and behaviors have hurt you?

Or would this be like beating your head against a wall?

My husband seems to think I should try to explain to my family how they are dysfunctional, so they can understand why I don't want contact from them right now. But I think if they could understand their dysfunction, and were nice people, they would have stopped being dysfunctional many years ago. For example, they would have sought counseling, or would have read books about it, etc.

I mean, how do you say, "You chose one child to be the good one, and one to be the scapegoat, and it was/is really hurtful." Or, "You should treat me with more respect." Or, "You are trying to control me and I don't like it."

It seems to me that they should know what they've done to hurt you (if it would be obvious to your average person), without having it explained in detail.

Is it okay to just avoid people because you want to and need to, without giving an explanation or justification?

What do you all think?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2004
Mon, 11-07-2011 - 1:07pm

I think it is okay to avoid people. However, some families don't want ot be avoided and will keep trying to contact you. I do think it is a good thing to explain why if you really would like it if they improved.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
Mon, 11-07-2011 - 1:54pm
Hell yeah, it's ok to tell your family where their dysfunction lies.

I let mine know plenty of times. My parents and siblings are so dysfunctional in the drug abuse problem rampant in my family, and I let them know it all the time.

They haven't changed much, but they are very clear where I stand. And when I stop speaking to them, they know why without a doubt.


Avatar for ukgirl82
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-17-2005
Tue, 11-08-2011 - 5:20am
There is nothing wrong with expressing your feelings about their behavior towards you. But I agree with imotherothers - the best way to communicate with people is not to tell them that their behavior is "wrong" (because even if it is, saying so will just make them put up their defences and reject anything you say) - but to simply tell them how their behavior makes you FEEL.

"It seems to me that they should know what they've done to hurt you (if it would be obvious to your average person), without having it explained in detail."

It's my belief that deep down (even if it's on a subconscious level), abusers and bullies (because it sounds like that's what your parents are) know that what they are doing is hurtful but they will continue to do it to people who don't stand up for themselves. Confronting their behavior by telling them how it makes you feel won't be telling them anything they don't already know about themselves, it's just telling them that you're not going to quietly put up with it anymore.

Of course confronting the issue will probably still mean causing upset. However you word it, they probably won't take your sudden assertiveness quietly - they are obviously used to verbally and emotionally abusing you and may try to initially bully you back into submissiveness by getting angry at you or guilt trip you by portraying themselves as the victims. It's understandable if that's not something you want to deal with and would rather just avoid them altogether.

Understand that your husband just cares about you and doesn't want to see you upset by people who are supposed to love you too. He just wants you to stand up for yourself so they won't continue to hurt you.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-23-2010
Tue, 11-08-2011 - 10:00am
Of course it's fine to my case no one listens and just want to argue and I'm over the case of my Mother....she starts to cry...conversation over.
Avatar for cfk_3
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-1999
Tue, 11-08-2011 - 10:41am

If it were me, I'd probably opt to have some form of family counseling.