12 Characteristics of a Well Functioning Family

Family and Kids

How well does your family function?
Every family functions … on some level. But, at the same time, every family can function better.
As you examine your family, it helps to not think of things as good or bad, right or wrong – instead think in terms of what is and what could be.
Most things that happen in family (and life) are neutral – what matters is the meaning we place on it.
Here’s some great food for thought.

  1. The well functioning family has the kind of balance that can adapt and even welcome change. This balance is different from homeostasis – which acts to maintain the status quo in the presence of change.
  2. Emotional problems are seen as existing in the unit, with components in each person. Put another way: there is no such thing as an emotional problem in one person.
  3. Connectedness is maintained across generations with all members of the family.
  4. There is a minimum of fusion (too close), and distance is not used to solve problems. In other words, you don’t seek to smother or distance yourself from others when there are problems.
  5. Each twosome in the family can deal with all problems that occur between them. Triangulating onto a third person who is used to arbitrate or judge or solve the dispute is discouraged.
  6. Differences between people are not only tolerated, but encouraged.
  7. Each person can operate selectively using both thinking and emotional systems with other members of the family.
  8. There is a keen awareness of what each person gets functionally from himself/herself, and what he/she gets from others. These are the areas of identification and differentiation (growing up).
  9. There is an awareness of the emptiness in each member of the family, and each person is allowed to have their own emptiness. There is no attempt made to fill someone else’s up.
  10. The preservation of a positive emotional climate takes precedence over doing what “should” be done and what is “right.”
  11. Function in the family is determined by each member saying that this is a pretty good family to live in over time. If one or more members say there is a problem, there is a problem.
  12. Members of the family can use others in the family as a source of feedback and learning, but not as an enemy.
From Thomas Fogarty, MD.
(photo source)