Toxic family dynamics come in all shapes and sizes, and because of that, they produce different personality traits in different people. For some, a toxic family dynamic may make them needier, for others, it may make them more avoidant, and the list goes on and on.
While the situation we grew up in doesn’t doom us for failure or ensure our success, the environments in which we develop do impact our growth. Having a toxic family can be devastating. And while there are common themes among those that grow up in a toxic family dynamic, you may find that most are a mashup of the following.
Regardless of how growing up in a toxic family impacts you, please know that understanding how it has impacted you is a powerful first step towards healing. Here are 7 types of children that are a result of their toxic families.
1. The hero.
A hero, or ‘responsible child,’ grows up having to take on responsibilities they never should have had to take on at an early age. They may feel like it’s their duty to save everyone else while letting their own needs fall to the wayside. They can end up this way after having to take care of a parent (or being parentified) rather than being taken care of. Or they may have even had to take care of their siblings because their parents simply weren’t present.
2. The wild child.
On the contrary, being raised in chaos can result in chaos. Many children who are raised in toxic family systems may revolt or rise up against their parents. Because their parents or family didn’t model healthy personality traits or because they were neglected or hurt, they end up acting out.
3. The awkward child.
When a child isn’t given the right kind of love, it’s likely they may be awkward. They may have a hard time socializing, or withdraw entirely. They will constantly struggle with their self-esteem and always feel anxious around others because the people they loved most constantly kept them on edge or made them feel as though they weren’t good enough.
4. The dreamer.
Rather than act out, the dreamer takes another route. To help them cope with their toxic family dynamic, they may hide in books, or movies, or video games. The dreamer is typically shy, much like the awkward child, but in a different way. They may spend much of their childhoods planning the day they can get away and start a new life.
5. The enabler.
Enablers are oftentimes the child or spouse of an addict. They may feel the need to protect the addict they love, by giving in to their needs or allowing them to be completely dysfunctional because they love them. Oftentimes, they protect the addict from other family members and since they don’t know how to cope with their family member’s addiction- they will try to hide it.
6. The escape artist.
The escape artist is a runner. When things become difficult, they run away. They may have even done so as a child. As an adult, they will likely hope job to job, or relationship to relationship. Because they were never taught how to handle bad situations (because they were raised in one) they run to cope with their problems.
7. The unstable child.
Emotional instability is quite common among people who grow up in dysfunctional and toxic families. This is because of a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important reason is that emotional stability was never modeled for them, and because of the chaotic and unpredictable circumstances they were born in. Even with proper conflict resolution skills- it’s nearly impossible to remain stable when your family is not.