Signs of a Dysfunctional Family and Ways to Handle It


Dysfunctional families are ones in which members suffer from negative patterns of behaviour that cause harm. This can include substance abuse, verbal or physical abuse, mental illness, or criminal behaviour.

If you take place from a dysfunctional family, you might have experienced some situations. To learn more, keep reading this blog and discover the signs of a dysfunctional family.

Why Are There Dysfunctional Families?

Dysfunctional families are more common than you might think. Most families have at least some degree of dysfunction.

There are many common causes of dysfunctional families. One of the most common is unresolved conflict. Conflict is not resolved healthily, it can lead to resentment, bitterness, and even hatred.

Addiction problems may also lead to family dysfunction. This can lead to financial issues, communication problems, and even physical violence. Unfortunately, physical violence isn’t limited to cases of addiction.

A family familiar with a history of abuse may include physical, emotional, or even sexual abuse. This can lead to trust, communication, and even mental health problems.

How Can A Dysfunctional Family Affect Its Members?

Growing up in a dysfunctional family can have a lasting impact on a child’s life. Children who grow up in a set lacking love, support, and stability often struggle to develop healthy relationships later in life. They may also work with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Children who grow up in dysfunctional families often have difficulty trusting people. They may have difficulty forming attachments and may be afraid of intimacy. This can make it difficult to develop healthy relationships later in life.

Children could struggle with mental health issues. They may be more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. They may also be more likely to engage in self-destructive behaviours, such as substance abuse.

How to Know if You Have a Dysfunctional Family?

Are you part of a dysfunctional family? Contrary to popular belief, the signs aren’t as apparent. It can be hard to tell because what is considered “normal” varies from family to family.

There are some common signs that your family may be dysfunctional:

1. Lack of Communication

If your family members don’t communicate with each other, it can be a sign that there are underlying issues. Maybe nobody talks about their feelings, or there is a lot of yelling but no real conversation. 

Inadequacy of communication can lead to misunderstandings and resentment.

2. Lack of Boundaries

Boundaries are essential in any relationship, but they are vital in families. If there are no boundaries, it can lead to feeling overwhelmed or suffocated. People in dysfunctional families often feel they have to take care of everyone else and put their needs last.

3. Lack of Respect

Respect is an integral part of any healthy relationship. If you don’t feel respected by your family members, it can signify that the family is dysfunctional. Maybe you feel like your opinions are never valued, or you are constantly being put down.

4. Addiction

Addiction can be a sign of a dysfunctional family. If one or more family members are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other substances, it can create a toxic environment. Addiction can lead to financial problems, communication problems, and a lack of respect.

5. Abuse

Abuse is a severe issue that can occur in any family. If you are being physically, emotionally, or even sexually abused, it is vital to get help. Abuse can destroy relationships and lead to a feeling of powerlessness.

If you recognise these signs in your own family, it doesn’t mean your family is necessarily dysfunctional. But it may be a sign that some underlying issues need to be addressed. If you’re worried about your family, talk to a trusted friend or family member, or get professional help.


There are ways to cope if you’re currently in a dysfunctional family. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone and that you can’t change the past. But you can adjust how you proceed to the situation and take steps to improve your current situation.

Chettiar Counselling has psychotherapy that offers a non-judgemental space to process your pain. Our counselling therapists in Guelph provide support for managing anxiety, depression, anger management, and help for Dysfunctional families. Contact us today to find out how counselling may make a huge difference to your life and your loved ones.