10 Lifelong Impacts of Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family

7. Bury Feelings

One thing you don’t do in a dysfunctional family is let your emotions out. When you cry, scream, or have a temper tantrum, it can make the abuse worse. The child who remains quiet and stays out of the path of the abuser fares better than the one who challenges them.

Children quickly learn that they must suppress their feelings and emotions not to become a target. This pattern is not broken easily, and the suppression can continue until you know to break the cycle. The emotional aspects of feeling unimportant and unloved sting deep.

8. Poor Financial Management

Many folks who grow up in chaos never learn to manage money effectively. Having no positive example of paying the rent, cable, electricity, and water can have a considerable impact. Many of these families lack financial stability, so the child never learns the importance of not spending all they have on frivolous purchases with no thought for tomorrow.

9. Learns Violence

Have you ever heard that the abused become an abuser? It’s sadly quite common for someone who was abused to become an abuser. The reason is that they never learned effective ways to handle conflict.

If they grew up in a home where they were beaten with a belt to get them in line, they believe that this is the proper way to discipline a child. Hitting never resolves anything, and it only tends to make matters worse.

Growing up in an environment where violence was used for conflict resolution causes problems. You must stand up and say, “It stops here!” You don’t have to let the cycle of abuse continue.

10. Self-Medicating with Drugs and Alcohol

You’re a product of your upbringing. Many people don’t know how to deal with all the things that happened to them in the past, so they try to self-medicate the pain away. The downside to this thought process is that the numbness wears off when the intoxication is gone, and then you must still face reality.

Growing up in a dysfunctional family is no picnic, and rehabilitation centers across the country are full of people who don’t know how to cope with what happened to them.

Three Ways to Get Over the Mental Chaos

You’ve identified what it means to grow up in dysfunction, but now you need practical tools to overcome these things. You can and will overcome them if you put some effort into healing. It’s not going to happen overnight, and you may struggle with overcoming these things for the rest of your life.

However, you should know that it can be done when you get the proper help. Here are some ways that you can help to heal from the past.


The most effective defense you have against your past is learning to process what happened. Many times, you have feelings of guilt and shame that need to be addressed. Counseling is an effective outlet to helping you overcome this trauma.

•Practice Meditation and Mindfulness

Learning to live in the present is hard for someone who was always on edge. However, meditation is a great tool to help you purge negativity from your mind. Don’t let the past rob you of your future.

•Incorporate Movement into Your Daily Routine

When you exercise, you release potent endorphins in your body that help you to have good mental health. Often chemical imbalances are to blame for bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. You can improve your state of mind by moving your body more.

dysfunctional family

There is no perfect childhood. Even if a person says their upbringing was wonderful, there are always things to overcome. You must be careful because the cycles of abuse become so commonplace that you can become the very thing you loathe.

If you have children, remember they’re watching your every move. Do you want them to grow up with the same neglect and feelings of despair that you did? What happens in a dysfunctional family is hurtful and wrong on many levels, but there is a way to overcome it.

You’re past doesn’t have to define you a minute longer than you allow it. You have the power to overcome the hurt and pain, and you can live a normal, healthy life. It’s all about your mindset and getting the help you need to overcome the unthinkable.

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