Home Children's Ministry Leaders Articles for Children's Ministry Leaders Dysfunctional Family: 5 Sneaky Traps to Avoid as Parents

Dysfunctional Family: 5 Sneaky Traps to Avoid as Parents

dysfunctional family

No one wants to be part of a dysfunctional family. Yet no family is perfect, even if the parents are Christians. Have you ever had to confront something you were doing wrong, even without knowing it? We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Parents often make several common mistakes, even without realizing it. Discover if any of these dysfunctional family signs appear in your home. Are you guilty of hurting your family with any of these unintentional yet common mistakes?

5 Signs of a Dysfunctional Family

1. Correcting your spouse in front of your kids

I know you don’t always agree. But it’s really important to discipline yourselves to put on a unified front when your kids are watching. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to just say, “Honey, let’s talk about this later.” You don’t want to burden children with an unnecessary feeling of insecurity that comes from seeing mom and dad at odds.

Even if you genuinely believe your spouse is wrong in a situation, do your best to make that known in private. Don’t share it in the presence of your kids. This is essential to avoid becoming a dysfunctional family.

2.  Siding with your kids over your spouse when there’s a conflict

Let’s face it. Occasionally you’ll see eye to eye with your kids over your spouse on certain issues. Maybe you don’t think they deserve discipline for something but your spouse does. Or you think your spouse is being too harsh and is treating your child unfairly.

In these situations, one of the most dangerous things you can do for your family is to side with your child over your spouse (at least if it’s done in the child’s presence). When this happens, you inadvertently sow the seeds of disrespect and contempt in your child’s heart.

The last thing you’d ever want to do is set your spouse up for parenting failure. But that’s exactly what you do if you throw them under the bus and side with your children. The solution is simple. Talk to your spouse in private. Reach an agreement or compromise, and then explain it to your kids as a unified couple.

3.  Giving your kids permission to do something your spouse has said no to

Kids are smart, and they know that if one parent won’t give them the answer they want, then maybe the other one will. In our home, our children understand the consequences if they ask one of us something that they know the other has already given them a clear answer about.

However, if in any family one parent regularly goes behind the back of the other and gives their child permission to do things they’ve already been told “no” to, they have successfully sown the seeds of division. So they shouldn’t be surprised when they reap an unwanted harvest in years to come.

4.  Having and enforcing different rules than your spouse

One of the greatest keys to successful parenting is two people being on the same page. They need to go in the same direction and try to accomplish the same vision for their family. Any time children sense a certain set of rules when one parent is present and a different set when they’re absent, potential danger exists. This could involve what you allow kids to watch, listen to, eat or say, etc.

Dad and Mom need to get on the same page for rules concerning chores, expectations, respect, discipline, and many other areas. This can be especially difficult for stepfamilies or single parents whose kids live in more than one home with different sets of rules. But for the sake of the children, every family needs to find as much common ground as possible.

5.  Giving your kids greater priority of your time and attention than your spouse

This is one of the most common mistakes parents make without even realizing it. In a dysfunctional family, parents often focus more on their relationship with their kids to the detriment of feeding and growing their relationship with each other.

When parent and child become more of a team than mom and dad, problems will arise.

Remember: God gave you your spouse first and your children second. Any time your relationship with your spouse suffers, your kids will naturally suffer as a result. Strong marriages make for strong families. So do what it takes to put your spouse first. And don’t ever apologize to your kids for doing so!

None of us would intentionally try to hurt our family. But it’s very possible we’re doing it without even knowing it. If so, let’s make the necessary course corrections. Let’s make it our goal as parents to avoid traps of a dysfunctional family.

Make your home the safest, most balanced place for love to grow, character to form, and future family precedents to be set.