The continuum

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Thursday

Family Emotional Health is on a continuum. All families fall somewhere between remarkable wellness on one end and debilitating dysfunction on the other.

Here are few of several measures:

Healthy families talk about anything and everything: love, sex, justice, peace, pollution, religion, literature, death, dying, money, and a lot more – there are no “no-go” areas. People talk as well as listen – people get to freely agree and disagree – and everyone gets a turn at some point.

“We need to talk,” is celebrated.

Unhealthy families, if they talk, the conversation is scripted. Topics to avoid are known even though they are probably not clearly defined as “no-go” topics. People just know not to “go there.”

“We need to talk,” fills family members with apprehension and fear.

Healthy families are unpredictable – they can change directions in a minute, seize unexpected fun opportunities, and are unafraid of the unknown, the unexpected. They frequently do daring things – the things less healthy families often consider irresponsible.

The more a family leans toward dysfunction, the more it craves certainty, predictable routine, for things to be under-control, for things to go to plan. Fun is organized; it’s planned, if it is embraced at all.

Healthy families embrace non-conformity. Unhealthy families interpret it as betrayal.

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