The Caregiver & Dysfunctional Families: How are you doing?

Started by

Many of us, myself included, come from a dysfunctional family which adds a lot of weight to the challenges of caregiving. I have read stores on various threads on other topics and decided it would be good to have a thread just for this topic for people to share, vent and discuss.

The idea for this thread originated on the thread named "The Caregiver....How are YOU doing today?"


CMag.......great topic and I'm sure there will be lots of responses. Countless times I have tried to come up with a family unit that I personally know that is not dysfunctional in one way or another....and I have never been able to do that. I used to think maybe it was because a lot of us are products of divorce, but then you find a lot of families where there has been no divorce but lots of other dynamics to cause turmoil. This would be an excellent topic for the professionals here to weigh in on. I would welcome their insight.
Hugs to you CMag.........
Cmag, thanks for starting this thread... this is going to tie in with so many issues we face in caregiving.... another safe place to put our feelings..... prayers this is a success.... hugs to you...
This topic has been on my mind all day. I'd like to hear comments from those who have more than a couple of siblings. As one of 6 children, I still don't know how I got the job of caregiver......any takers?
Jam, like you say, all families have some level of dysfunctional which is seen more on a range from low to high. A high dysfunctional family system often results in a divorce or has some family secrets hidden under the veneer of being the perfect family.

Very often a divorce is do to one spouse having a personality disorder or some biologically based mental illness that is either not diagnosed or the person is not staying on their meds. Sometimes people who don't really fit in the range of normal get married and somehow survive, but the impact upon the children is not healthy.

seemeride, I have no idea how you got the caregiver job. Maybe, you just chose to instead of having to do it as the chosen one.
I fit in here like "fun" fits in dysfunctional. Good thread cmag! There must be people out there in the real world who are caregiving without the complexities of dysfunction, but it seems a number of us here are not so fortunate.

seeme you raise a good question and although I am one of two, I will toss something back at you - "You were available". I mean emotionally, physically - in all ways .

I am one of many on here with a narcissistic parent and that makes the job of caregiving different from those whose parents is not.
has some family secrets hidden under the veneer of being the perfect family... could not agree with you more. We were not the family with divorce, drugs, alcohol, cheating etc but, years and years later, I can look back (with more maturity, less distractions, and more education) and "see" things I did not see before. What happened? Boom!!! One can keep a secret only so long.... and then someone like me listens more intently and really sees things.
As I told my four daughters: "I did the best I could as a parent now it is your turn to do your best." And no one can really expect more than that. If I analyze their families I can see spots that I would improve upon, but I didn't like it when people did that to me so I won't do that to them. Maybe that's what life is about: breaking the cycles that harm others.
Someone once said to me that we can't change the past (no duh huh?) but in the present we can search our souls to improve ourselves and the future will be a calmer place to be.
I would like to add that in my child and family development courses research is presented on the importance of a male in a child's life, specifically a boy's life. I wish I still had my textbook to quote it...great, great agencies stepping up when a man is not in a boy's life. We could point the finger at the mother who chose not to have the father in the child's life, or the father who is not in the child's life or society that contributes to this problem or focus on the solution: how can a man be a mentor to a boy who does not have a man in his life? And how can a woman be a mentor to a girl who does not have a woman in her life? We know what the problem is~can we be part of the solution? Just sayin'!
SDPeg, I think you could write a dissertation from what you wrote above.

After being in therapy for 8 years, I see many things about my family of origin and my immediate family that a college degree and a master degree did not show me. My eyes were closed and my ears were shut. Must of been for I majored in sociology, took developmental psychology in college and took a course in marriage and family counseling in graduate school.

For some of us like me, I think it takes our parents getting older and possibly like some drastic life changes like me going on disability that puts us in the position to see and hear.

Ask your child and family development courses about parents who expect their children to grow up way to fast and have a childless childhood or the impact upon one's life to constantly hear one parent run down the other after a divorce or the results of a parent making their son or daughter an emotional and or ___ substitute spouse. BTW, I ran across a radical but good article about mistakes single moms need to avoid in raising sons. Among other things, my mom dumped her anger toward my dad into me, but I did not see that for what it is until recently. On the other hand, he has never run her down. When I've brought her up or asked a question about her, he gives me responses of his perception of the facts without any emotional baggage. Past time for me to go to bed!
How is everyone doing?

I hope more people will join us on this thread.
Thank you cmag for starting this thread! Kudos to you.
emjo-I too have a narcissistic mom and have been on the DNM website I saw you reccomended on another thread. That isn't her only problem, but I think it's the one that hurts me most while being her caregiver. Caregiving is a selfless act, and there aren't alot of rewards when you're doing it for a selfish person.
I feel for those of you who discovered in adulthood that your families weren't normal. I have known since I was a teenager, but at that time, my Dad was the main problem. When I was 16, after repeatedly asking him why he drank, he finally told me about his past as an ex-con. It was a brutal awakening for me, because my parents were so uptight, law abiding, and righteous.
Now the tables have turned. Years of lving apart from them made me think their problems couldn't affect me anymore. Having them move in with me changed that thought in about 3 weeks! My Dad is sober and this time, my Mom is the problem. But we are still playing all the same old dysfunctional roles.
Had a talk with Dad yesterday in the car. I don't think that a 43 year old woman (me) should have to hear her 73 year old father tell her is is protecting her from her Mother's anger. I am not a child anymore and shouldn't need protection!!! I'm afraid that the good relationship I've developed with my Dad will be ruined because he enables Mom, and I resent that.
i agree that being from a dysfunctional family makes caregiving harder. There's enough with all the appointments, meds, medical explanations, and actual illness without all the baggage. i've been asked to treat my mom less like a patient and more like a relative. If i did that, I'd probably throw her out on her ear!
Still trying to find ways to cope...Becky
Notlikemom, you may have to play certain games, but you are so far from the dysfunction it amazes me... you are smart, loving, very aware, and your hands are tied.... your dad's guilt over his past should have nothing to do with how things are allowed to go on with your mom... no matter what your mom says or does, you are an amazing daughter, you are risking everything you hold true and dear to be there for a mom that is not going to change.... and we can only change our own attitude to a degree without completely loosing ourself.... your mom is my dad in drag,(excuse the visuals there!).... there was no amount of guilt trips by the sibs could make me do anything for him... unless I WANTED to... so I am blessed with this "obnoxious and arrogant" personality, my sisters labels, that I said NO from the begining..... Have you ever asked her, even in anger, why she thinks it is ok to talk to you the way she does???? You may not get an answer, but it is empowering to be able to say it outloud.....Why is it that most of that generation are narcissistic???? Especially the women..... baffling......
So no matter what she says or does, do not get lost in the craziness. I know she has serious health issues, so does your dad, but it is your turn to take care of yourself... we may come from dysfunctional families, doesn't mean we can't be true to ourself..... and sometimes say out loud what needs to be said.... hugs to you... and angels to help you carry your load.....

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support