Sometimes, dysfunctional families are obvious. You can just look at the way they act and know something isn’t right. There’s probably something there that isn’t being said. Other times, these families are so good at covering these dysfunctional characteristics, that even the people within the family don’t recognize the symptoms. Based on the dysfunctional family roles listed below, do you find yourself fitting into one of these categories?
Sometimes called the “Caretaker”, the Enabler feels like they have to keep the family going. Over and over they take on problems and responsibilities, desperately trying to fix them.
The Enable protects and takes care of the problem person (many times a child trying to take care of a parent), so that the person is never allowed to experience the negative consequences of his or her actions.
This family member devotes his or her time to making sure the family looks “normal” and without problems. The Hero can mask or make up for the dysfunctional home life. Over-responsible and self-sufficient, the Hero is also many times a perfectionist. They try their hardest to look good on the outside.
The hero’s parents often look for the child to prove they are good parents and good people, and their goal in life becomes to achieve “success”, however that has been defined by the family.
This is usually the “problem child” or “trouble maker”. This family member usually may always look like they’re defiant, hostile or angry. The Scapegoat is usually the truth teller of the family, and will many times verbalize or act out the “problem” that the family is trying to cover up. The Scapegoat may have trouble in school because they get attention the only way they know how: by acting out.
The Lost Child
Sometimes referred to as “the quiet one”, or “the dreamer”, the Lost Child is the invisible one. They try to escape their family drama by making themselves very small and quiet. He or she stays out of the way of problems and spends a lot of time alone.
The child may avoid interactions with family members and basically disappears. They may become loners, or are very shy. Because they don’t interact, they may not have a chance to learn important social skills well. Many times, the Lost Child is a victim of neglect and emotional abuse.
The goal of the Mascot is to break the tension and lighten the mood. He or she is usually the “cute one”. This child feels powerless, and tries to interrupt the negative they see happening around them.
Sometimes, the Mascot will use their humor to communicate and confront the family dysfunction, rather than address it directly. They may become anxious or depressed when things aren’t in constant motion.