19 Signs You Grew Up in a Dysfunctional Family

The world would be a better place if everyone grew up in a healthy, happy home. But unfortunately, many children’s home lives are far from perfect. You may recognize these 19 signs if you grew up in a dysfunctional family.

Constant Family Conflict

Photo Credit: kryzhov/Shutterstock.

According to Verywell Mind, dysfunctional families usually have frequent arguments and conflicts. The atmosphere may feel heavy and hostile, causing the children to feel like they need to be ready for a fight to start up at any minute. If this sounds familiar, you may have grown up in a dysfunctional family.

Lack of Emotional Support

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Dysfunctional parents commonly fail to give their kids the emotional support they need and deserve. They may appear cold, dismissive, or critical when they should reassure or praise. These kinds of families may also discourage negative or positive displays of emotion from their children.

Extreme Control or Neglect

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

Dysfunctional families have a tendency to exhibit controlling or neglectful behaviors. For example, they may give their child too much or too little responsibility and autonomy over their own lives. According to Choosing Therapy, they may also be neglectful of their child’s needs and emotions, leaving them to their own devices for long periods of time.

Poor Communication

Photo Credit: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock.

Communication isn’t a strong suit for unhealthy families. Much of the time, these families communicate in ways that are ambiguous, manipulative, or abusive. Sometimes, they will fail to communicate at all or use lies to attempt to control situations and get their own way.

Conditional Love

Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.

Parents should love their children unconditionally. But unfortunately, many dysfunctional families do not show their kids the unconditional love they deserve. Instead, their children may learn that they can only earn love if they behave in accordance with their caregivers’ needs and wants.

Substance Abuse

Photo Credit: Viktoriia Hnatiuk/Shutterstock.

A family that is addicted to substances such as alcohol or drugs is usually a dysfunctional family. Substance addiction can drastically alter one’s behavior and prevent parents from giving their kids the attention and care they deserve. It can also create financial issues that have a negative impact on the children’s quality of life.

Inconsistent Discipline

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

Discipline plays an essential role in raising a child. However, it can also be a tool used for evil. If it felt like rules and consequences were always changing depending on your family’s moods or you received punishments that were much harsher than necessary, it’s likely you grew up in a dysfunctional family.

Perfectionism and Criticism

Photo Credit: Ilike/Shutterstock.

Toxic families commonly overly criticize their children, which causes them to feel like nothing they do will ever be good enough. As an extension of this, many people raised in this way develop the core belief that they are not good enough, causing them to compensate with perfectionist tendencies or an obsession with achievement.

Emotional or Physical Abuse

Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.

As noted by Mental Health America, it goes without saying that any family that physically or emotionally abuses their kids is a dysfunctional family. These behaviors can be extremely damaging to children, causing them to feel powerless, isolated, or in a constant state of fear.

Strong Sibling Rivalry

Photo Credit: Just dance/Shutterstock.

A little bit of sibling rivalry is normal and can be healthy. However, if your parents were constantly pitting you and your siblings against each other or had clear favorites, this creates an unhealthy environment in which kids often believe they must do better than others to be deserving of love and attention.

Financial Instability or Secrecy

Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.

Many families struggle with money, and that does not necessarily mean they are dysfunctional. However, if your parents were bad at managing their money, had frequent financial crises, or were overly secretive about their financial situation, this is a likely sign you grew up in a dysfunctional family.

Unpredictable Home Environment

Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock.

Mentally unhealthy parents, whether intentionally or not, often create an unpredictable home environment that can be very damaging to their kids. For example, the atmosphere may be completely silent one minute and erupt into a hostile, explosive argument the next.

Fear of Emotional Intimacy

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Many children raised by dysfunctional families develop a fear of emotional intimacy. This often reflects the fears of their parents, who may be emotionally closed off or explosive as a result. If you find it difficult to open up to others, you may have been raised in a dysfunctional family.


Photo Credit: Borovskih Olga/Shutterstock.

Being independent is usually seen as a positive trait. However, some people become overly independent in their adulthood because they were forced to take on too much responsibility as children. If you felt like you had to grow up far too fast, you were probably born into a dysfunctional family.

Chronic Guilt or Responsibility for Family

Photo Credit: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock.

Some toxic families will scapegoat their children for their problems. As a result, their kids will grow up with a sense of chronic guilt or over-responsibility for negative things happening around them. They may also have been made to feel like the family’s happiness and well-being were dependent on them.

Difficulty Experiencing Joy

Photo Credit: Sabphoto/Shutterstock.

Sadly, it is common for children who grew up in dysfunctional families to end up believing that they are undeserving of joy or positive emotions. Perhaps their parents were overly pessimistic, unstable, or even discouraging of positive feelings.

Constant Self-Criticism

Photo Credit: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock.

Do you struggle with a constant nagging inner voice that seems to criticize you at every opportunity? If so, it’s possible you grew up in a dysfunctional family. As noted by WebMD, toxic parents commonly overly criticize their children, leading them to internalize this harsh voice as they grow up.

Disproportionate Response to Stress

Photo Credit: Oleg Golovnev/Shutterstock.

Kids who grow up in a dysfunctional, high-stress family environment may learn coping mechanisms to deal with the intensity of emotions around them. As a result, they may shut down or become extremely anxious when conflict or stress arises.

People-Pleasing Behavior

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

Often, dysfunctional families will indirectly teach their kids that they must meet their needs and keep them happy to be deserving of love and attention. Because of this, many kids raised in this way will adopt people-pleasing behaviors that follow them into adulthood.

Read More: 20 Habits That Indicate You’re A Selfish Person

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Selfish individuals often exhibit certain habits that can negatively impact those around them. Recognizing these traits can help in dealing with or avoiding negative influences. Here are 20 habits that may indicate someone is a selfish person.

20 Habits That Indicate You’re A Selfish Person

18 Misunderstood Acts The Bible Says Aren’t Actually Sins

Photo Credit: Viorel Sima/Shutterstock.

People tend to assume that the Bible condemns a wide array of behaviors, but the reality might surprise you. Here, we zoom in on 18 so-called “sins” that may not be as bad as we thought.

18 Misunderstood Acts The Bible Says Aren’t Actually Sins

18 Things You’re Far Too Old To Be Doing Anymore

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

As we grow older, it’s a great time to reevaluate our choices and habits. In this article, we’ll explore 18 things you may still be doing even though you may be too old.

18 Things You’re Far Too Old To Be Doing Anymore

18 Things That Become Intolerable as You Get Older

Photo Credit: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock.

As people age, they sometimes don’t find as much joy in things as they used to. An internet survey recently asked, “What are you starting to dislike more as you get older?” Here are the top 19 responses.

18 Things That Become Intolerable as You Get Older

The Boomers Called It: 19 Stupid Trends That Backfired

Photo Credit: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.

Sometimes, we get carried away with trends that we think are cool at the time, only to realize later how utterly ridiculous they were. Join us as we take a cringe-worthy trip down memory lane and explore 19 stupid trends that backfired. Prepare for some facepalms!

The Boomers Called It: 19 Stupid Trends That Backfired