5 Tips for Solving Problems in Dysfunctional Families

If your family is dysfunctional, these tips for solving family problems will help you create a happier, healthier home life.

Do you feel dissatisfied with family life? Do you find yourself spending less and less time with your spouse and kids? Or avoiding extended family members?

You’re not alone. Families are complex, and having a happy family takes time and energy. No matter what the problem, you’ll find tips in this post to having a happy family, and to finding and maintaining love, joy, and satisfaction in all family relationships.

“A family is the most important thing most people will ever do in their lives.” ~ Steve Burkett, retired sociologist.

Families can be a source of support and stability, so investing in good habits makes perfect sense. Here are five tips for a more satisfying family life…

Be a good friend – especially to dysfunctional family members

Treat your family members as you would treat a friend. Be courteous and respectful and keep your commitments. For example, if you promise to help your spouse with a project, make sure you follow through. Keep appointments and meetings and make sure you arrive on time. These are “small” tips that can go a long way to solve family problems.

Show affection to your family members – even when it’s difficult

In theory, family members should show love to another – even in dysfunctional families. But sometimes, personality or other conflicts get in the way. And children can sometimes feel that their parents no longer love them when they have misbehaved or when their parents are angry with them. Reconfirming affection makes children feel more secure, and can also positively impact parents.

Create family routines and chores

Nothing brings a family together like a set routine. Routines give family members comfort and a sense of order. For example, coming together for meals ensures that family members can spend time together. Chores help family members understand that everyone has an important role in the family, teach kids responsibility, and can help solve dysfunctional family problems.

Cherish your family traditions

All families have traditions such as a weekly ritual or a holiday event that is carried on by parents and grandparents. These traditions help children to understand where they come from and who they are. They also create a link between generations. Part of solving problems in dysfunctional families is to teach your children family traditions, tell family stories and celebrate together.

Hold family meetings – and stay focused on solving the problem

Calling a family meeting to talk about important issues ensures that news is heard by everyone at the same time. These discussions also ensure that everyone in the family has an equal voice and can share their views. Anyone in the family (including children) should be able to call a family meeting.

If your family problems are affecting your work life, read How to Stay Focused at Work When You Have Problems at Home.

And if you have thoughts or questions about these tips for solving family problems, please comment below.

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Written by Merle Rosenstein, a Toronto-based food and travel writer, blogger and staff writer for Canadian Traveller Magazine.


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3 thoughts on “5 Tips for Solving Problems in Dysfunctional Families

  • Staci

    My family is extremely dysfunctional. Having grown up with racism, sexism, prejudice, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, incest and psychological disorders its difficult to determine what a normal family is. I don’t believe that any of these tips are helpful in my case. The only thing that has been fool proof is avoiding all contact with problem family members. Though its difficult when that includes all my distant relatives and most of my immediate family. I would appreciate an article on solving real problems, not minor irritants.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Pedro — and I agree that solving family problems is easier said than done.

    I come from a dysfunctional family, too, and have learned that some problems just can’t be solved. Some problems are just part of who we are, and have to be lived with.

  • Pedro C.

    This is all around good advice, although it mostly falls in the “easier said than done” category. Regardless… I also come from a dysfunctional home, and I think that’s when you have to work the hardest to make family stick together…. when it doesn’t happen naturally.