Family ROLES – Normal

fit in 

& still be me?


See Inner Child MOVIE :
“If you believe



• Most organizations still function is a hierarchical system, with clearly identified Roles** for their members, as in governments, corporations, sports, law enforcement, social groups, most religious congregations, schools (esp. if students are under-age) ….. and of course, families.
Yes, it is possible to have consensus or democratic rule in some of these, BUT ONLY when made up entirely of rational adults
** Roles are ‘social expectations & norms held regarding an individual’s position & behavior within a group’ (Simon, Stierlin & Wynne, 1985)

• To function properly, family systems need to organize themselves to carry out daily challenges & responsibilities, as well as adjust to the developmental needs of its members.  But to understand the dynamics of any family unit, it takes more than just listing who the individuals are – we need to know how they come together & interact.
The family system exists in paradox: it has to be stable to provide continuity over time, while being able to adapt to fluctuations. It’s a balancing act: too much change – the system breaks down, too much stability – it atrophies & dies

• All families organize themselves into hierarchies & then into subsystems, which may be grouped by generation, age, gender…., to accomplish their tasks & goals. These smaller groupings can be grandparents, aunts & uncles, parents & children, males & females, the older & younger, the skilled & unskilled, the sick & well…… Naturally, individuals & the subsystems are influenced by & dependent on one another, so what happens to one affects the othergood fences

• Hierarchies need Boundaries, for:
— a line between subsystems
flow of info into, out from & about the family
— influencing the flow of people allowed in & out of the system

• According to Family Systems Theory, all families strive for a sense of balance or homeostasis, in an effort to find equilibrium between life’s challenges & the family’s resources to handle them. New patterns of interacting with each other will show up to keep inevitable changes from getting out of hand.
When this doesn’t work, additional family rules or dynamics have to be added or adjusted to restore balance. This happens in both healthy & unhealthy systems, but the solutions will be very different!

• This balancing act includes:
🕴 morphostasisa system’s ability to hold its shape & structural stability – by trying to conform ‘perfectly’ to a situation, keep strictly to its rituals, allow only those changes that do not threaten the existence of the family…. in the face of all types of stressor, AND
🕴 morphogenesis (creation of life) – the systems’ ability to change its form, grow systemically over time & adapt to the changing needs of the family

• To keep the unit going & make things harmonious, each family member needs to have an age-appropriate role, which should be stable but not rigid. Ideally, members have specific jobs, governed by rules & strategies

✶ PARENTS are expectparents provideed to fill a wide range of needs for themselves such as financial stability, relaxation & hobbies, mental stimulation, community participation, having a satisfying sexual relationship…..
& provide children with :
The Basics – Daily maintenance, provision of food, clothing, shelter & health care
Emotional needs
• Nurturing, warmth, a sense of home, a genuine feeling of safety & security
• Inclusion, fulfilling the need for love & belonging
• Esteem, giving self-worth, personal value, support, encouragement

Mental & Social needs
• Age-appropriate discipline, setting boundaries, correcting & guiding
• Information, how things are done, help with homework, how to be social, handling of finances
• Privacy, respect for each member’s autonomy & separateness
• Recreation, opportunities to have fun together
• Understanding, having the right to make mistakes & learn from them
Spiritual needs
• encouraged to have meaning & purpose in life, suited to the child
• gain a sense of the larger community & their place in it
• permission to develop a relationship with a Higher Powerchild obey

✶ CHILDREN are expected to learn from, cooperate with & respect their parents (must be age-appropriate) BY:
— helping with tasks around the house
— attending school keeping up with homework
— expressing their intellectual & artistic gifts
— trying out new & interesting skills, games & social settings

• People play many parts in life (social roles) such as parent, sibling, worker, student, lover…. each with it’s own set of requirements & functions.  This is normal & healthy as long as they have a clear sense of a positive core identity to underpin the roles, & feel free to express many different aspects of themselves.

NEXT: Toxic ROLES – #1

WHAT is SHAME? (Part 1)

I was born bad & I’ll always be bad

PREVIOUS: What is Guilt?


While guilt is mainly about negative actions,
SHAME is about our IDENTITY – about who we are, fundamentally.

🔹 It tells us that our very essence is bad, unlovable, unacceptable – to be eliminated. It makes us:
• want to hide, isolate, not talk, try to be invisible
• want to be dead! The pain of shame is so great & the conviction that we’re un-redeemable is so deep (not worth saving), that it eliminates Hope. Why bother even trying!
• OR we overcompensate – by acting superior, controlling, out-doing, knowing ‘everything’, never showing ‘weakness’ (grandiosity), shaming others…..

SHAME is connected to our NEEDs, rather than actions – specifically – each need we had as a child which was neglected, punished & made fun of.
Consider how many needs children have, & how many of them were met with abuse or not at all – you can imagine how huge our shame quotient is !!

BTW, most of us focus on the need for love, & while it is crucial, the need for safety is even more basic! We can’t begin to take in love, even when it’s available, if we’re terrified.

a. Being Ashamed – Children admire, even idealize their parents when they’re quite small. They need to do this to feel safe – to know they can rely on those people to be competent & available to them. It helps to compensate for the child’s extreme dependence & vulnerability.
✶ In reasonably healthy families, children gradually come to understand that their parents are human, fallible, imperfect – BUT still basically trustworthy & decent role models.

● But in dysfunctional families, one or more the adults act out their damage:
addictions, bitterness, constant criticism, cruelty, emotional withdrawal, depression, leaving & then never staying in touch, mental illness, neglect, not providing necessities, not staying groomed, not earning a living, putting each other & the kids in danger, verbal physical &/or sexual abuse ….

All of these & more, make children feel ashamed of their family (the chaos, the craziness, the cruelty) – & by extension themselves, as members of that group.
A sense of pride in themselves & their parents is eroded & shattered. This is devastating. That feeling is then carried, like a canker sore in our spirit, into adulthood.

b. Being Shamed – Children in damaged families are:
▪︎ teased & made fun of for many thing  (anger disguised with toxic humor)
▪︎ yelled at, attacked, harangued – often for nothing specific or obvious
▪︎ expected to know or do the impossible
▪︎ punished, yelled at, hit, humiliated – in public
▪︎ insulted about ones gender, looks, tastes, interests..
▪︎ pushed to do things when too young & then punished for ‘failing’
▪︎ treated unfairly, abused & then punished for crying, being upset or getting angry at the mistreatment

These & many other ways of shaming have been called soul murder. It represents parents’ lack of love & respect for themselves & so for their children, who stand in for their own Inner Child. Their dysfunctions negate / abuse the needs that all children have.
EXP: be paid attention to & heard, treated with respect, feel safe & loved, grow & learn at their own pace, find out who they are as individuals, know they can depend on their caretakers, look up to their parents, to LIVE, prosper & succeed….

EACH of these NEEDS became SHAMEFUL !
We conclude that if the adults hated these needs, then they’re bad (& us for still having them). So they must be suppressed, better yet – eliminated, no matter how deep & persistent they may be.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.28.55 PMEXP: After hearing the 4th Step in Al-Anon (“Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves’), one member suddenly realized: ☁︎ his #1 toxic rule was: “I should be dead !”
☁︎ most shamed need was for love. “ I thought that was my greatest character defect!
After all, the constant message was that I wasn’t lovable  – so I must be a fool to keep wanting it – which I do, desperately!”

In Recovery he learned that this & all his needs were legitimate, universal & his RIGHT, & so he was able to reject the need to die, & start loving himself.
(The 12-Steps – comments & videos)

NEXT: Shame (Part 2)