1. Most dysfunctional family situations thrive in an atmosphere of distrust, deceit and repressed emotions. You must establish clear boundaries for honest communication with family members.

2. You have a limited obligation to “fix” another family member’s dysfunctional behavior. Often, well-meaning attempts to compensate for a family member’s behavior will enable and encourage the dysfunction.

3. Very often, dysfunctional behavior results from patterns learned from parents and grandparents. Examine your family history to see if you are mirroring the negative behavior patterns of your parents.

4. Establishing consistent consequences for bad behavior does not indicate a lack of love or care, even though that is often the accusation from the person receiving the consequence. Setting clear parameters for acceptable behavior is essential for family stability.

5. Love is a two-way street, and men and women do have different emotional needs. Define what is important to you in your family relationships and ask other family members to be honest about what they perceive as their needs.

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6. It is possible and common for people to reach adult age physically and remain on a child or adolescent level emotionally and spiritually. You can’t expect adult behavior from someone who has never learned it. If you identify this emotional or spiritual condition in yourself or a family member, honestly and lovingly confront the issue with an eye toward completing God’s maturation process.

7. Many who have been crushed by strict authority figures in their childhood are not able to identify with the experience of adulthood. They often have a genuine hatred for any type of authority in their lives. Attempting to “parent” this type of person only adds dysfunction to the relationship. It is better to view everyone as equal, including yourself. You have rights too.

8. Placing yourself in the atmosphere of a healthy, well-balanced church will allow you to develop emotionally and spiritually. Most Christian churches place a high priority on helping families grow toward a positive, God-centered home life. Look for a church that builds families.

9. Family problems date back to Cain and Abel. Your situation is not unique. But rest assured that it is God’s desire to restore you emotionally and spiritually … “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” — Jer. 29:11-12

10. God has placed members within the Body of Christ as instruments of healing and recovery to those in need among the body of believers. Seek out a caring, Christian professional who can bring objectivity and insight, one who can aid in the healing process and bring spiritual transformation to your family. Used by permission of New Life Ministries. New Life Ministries has a variety of resources on men, women and relationships. Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE or visit www.newlife.com.