Many people don’t know this but in dysfunctional families you adopt roles, which can inadvertently affect other areas of your life as an adult (such as your career, relationship, friendships, etc.). The roles are as follows:
- The good child/hero – The child who assumes the parent role.
- The problem child/scapegoat – The child who is blamed for problems related to the family’s dysfunction.
- The caretaker – The child who takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family.
- The lost child – The quiet child, whose needs are usually ignored or hidden.
- The mascot – This child uses comedy to divert attention away from the dysfunctional family.
You can assume more than one role depending on your family dynamic. For instance, I assumed the good child/hero role. I went to school, received good grades, and stayed out of trouble. I’ve always been the responsible one, and sometimes I grew tired of my role because it came with a lot of responsibility. I noticed in other areas throughout my life I assumed the same role without even thinking about it. Everyone always viewed me as the “good one”. In no way am I implying that I was perfect, but this is the way I conducted myself. Even in my career I assume a leadership role. In my relationships I noticed that I always took on the role of taking care of everything, even when my spouse made it clear that was unnecessary. I never knew what it was like just to sit back and let someone else handle things, unless it was my dad.
If you sit and think about it, you may have allowed your dysfunctional family role to spill over into other areas in your adulthood as I had. But the good thing is you can change this! The first step is to sit and analyze what role you have assumed. Then think about how your actions have affected your life. And THEN you can think of ways to change this.
Don’t be down on yourself. It’s not your fault. Just be thankful that you are at a place of reflection. All you can do now is be accountable for your actions and actively change it. You are not required to be the same person you were last year nor yesterday.
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