Is there such a thing as a functional family?
Posted by mandyf on September 13, 2012
There sure are plenty of functional families spread all over the face of the Earth, however it would seem most are best described as functional in a dysfunctional manner. What is meant by that is there is dysfunction in every family whether that reality is faced up to or not. What separates families is that some learn to deal with dysfunction and move forward in a positive way and others find themselves mired in drama which inhibits being what most would consider functional.
With that said, for some families the drama and outward chaos is what is functional. Not every shoe fits every foot so to speak. When we talk about drama it isn’t about the extremes of that spectrum wrapped up in abuse and the such, just good old fashioned goofiness that people on that outside don’t understand. Everyone has seen or knows families that seem so far out on the fringe of what is accepted as normal that it is amazing they seem to not only function, but quite often thrive.
A wonderful personal example for this was provided by my daughter of all people. As parents it was thrilling to get a note from her new school concerning how well she was doing both academically and socially, as well as the comment which read “Knowing of her family history prior to entering my class I was pleasantly surprised she is so well adjusted and healthy.” In all actuality that was a backhanded compliment at best, but it was testament someone thought we were doing a good job as parents.
That comes to light because to the outside world, our family appears to be the epitome of dysfunctional. As our daughter once said, “Being the daughter of a transsexual mother who was once my father and my other mother not my birth mother, but the only mom I ever knew prior to having two moms is a little weird.” That is agreeable. It’s also not normal for one mother to be very publicly outspoken and known, and the other to be an authority figure that constantly challenges authority. We thrive on conflict and heated debate on every topic most people cringe at even thinking of.
You add that on top of having an elderly asthmatic cat that does little more that hack, wheeze, and fail to reach the litter box before everything just…comes out…an extended family made up of four different ethnic backgrounds, numerous mixed marriages, all of whom know everything about everything, are never wrong, and are willing to take it to the lawn to fight out who the winner is, and we appear pretty dysfunctional. We won’t even get into the fact we have therapists on speed dial we use with great regularity, even though just the local extended family boasts three actively practicing the trade. Somehow though everyone achieves some level of success, nobody has been incarcerated or even indicted, so far as I know we don’t have any uncle/daddy situations, although in my case for awhile at least I was daddy/mommy…
The point of it all is, that for us what so many others see as dysfunctional is normal. We get along just fine with all the insanity. Another family might crumble under all of that. By the same token if we were what is perceived as more mainstream we might wind up being dysfunctional. In summation, there is most definitely such a thing as a functional family, it one that has learned to cope with its dysfunction.