Growing up, no matter how much we may feel like something is off about our family, they are what we are used to and what we may even feel like we are stuck with. However, as we get older, we begin to realize that a toxic family dynamic is not only disruptive and difficult to navigate, but that it is toxic for many aspects of our being and existing.
At this point, we are forced to decide how to move forward. In this article, I will list the signs of a toxic family dynamic and what to do. Because every situation is different and because there are varying degrees of toxicity, it’s important to realize that every situation needs to be handled accordingly.
With that being said, here are the 10 signs of a toxic family dynamic.
1. Members are pitted against one another.
In a toxic family, one or more members will be pitted against the others. This can happen through the parents pitting siblings together, or through siblings banning together to cause harm to others. Whatever the case may be, when one member is being told to attack another, it’s toxic.
2. All of the members turn on one (the scapegoat.)
At any given time, there is one member of the family that always takes the blame for the other members. This person is the scapegoat, and they are always at the center of family attacks.
3. You don’t feel comfortable or at peace around your family.
No family is a walk in the park all of the time, but for the most part, the family should be a place of comfort. When your family makes you walk on eggshells and you are always on edge around them, it’s a problem.
4. Violence is the norm.
In toxic family dynamics, there is often violence. Brothers will fight their brothers, the parents beat the kids and the kids beat each other. Unfortunately, until the generational cycle is broken by members who refuse to take part, it continues.
5. Arguments get volatile.
Small arguments in the toxic family get intense quickly. A minor argument over the slightest thing can cause a verbal knockdown drag out.
6. There are no boundaries.
Members of the toxic family lack boundaries. No one has any respect for the other, and it’s typical for one member to cross the line over and over and over again.
7. Everyone is a victim.
In a toxic family dynamic, it’s normal for members of the family to often play the victim. They may guilt trip one another, or flat out attack each other, only to later play as though they were the ones who were victimized.
8. Emotions are swept under the rug.
Emotional invalidation is normal in a toxic family. Rather than consoling each other or supporting one another, the members of a toxic family will pretend like traumas and problems don’t exist. If one member continues to bring up their feelings or brings up past problems, they are likely to end up as the scapegoat.
9. Criticism is harsh.
Toxic families don’t believe in constructive criticism. Members are typically judgmental, rude and harshly critical of one another.
10. Substance use is prevalent.
Not all addicts are toxic-please keep that in mind. However, substance abuse and addiction are often present in toxic families.