Role Playing In A Dysfunctional Family

1960Welcome back to the Dysfunctional Playhouse.  I just pulled the snacks out of the oven and we can get started as soon as you are comfortable.

And in a way, comfort is what this post is about.  In dysfunctional families, children take on certain roles as a means of coping with the dysfunction that is all around them.  Those roles can be summarized as follows:

  • The good child:  this child takes on the parental role and is really the hero of the family, holding it together through sheer willpower.
  • The problem child:  the rebel who is often blamed for most of the problems in the family.
  • The caretaker:  this child takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family.
  • The lost child:  often quiet, in the shadows, hardly noticed and often ignored.
  • The mascot:  the joker of the family who uses humor to deflect attention away from the dysfunction.
  • The mastermind:  this one takes advantage of the faults of other family members to get what he/she wants.

Growing up I was a combination of the good child and the caretaker.  I had a sister who was eleven years older than me and really was a non-factor in the household by the time I was six or seven.  Once she left the home to get married it was up to me to hold the family together, so often my roles were hazy as I tried to juggle various responsibilities.

I have no doubt that I was adopted to save the family.  The older I got the more I became aware of this, and let me tell you it is one hell of a load to carry.

Do you see yourself in any of these roles? Do you see any of your children?

Just something to think about…..remember, change is possible.  The past cannot hurt us if we do not allow it to.  We can kick history to the curb and pave a new road for ourselves…..and it begins with willingness.



About Billybuc

A simple man who has found happiness as a functioning dysfunctional.
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8 Responses to Role Playing In A Dysfunctional Family

  1. For me growing up, I was the good child, but then I hit the teen years and was a bit of a rebel, but now I have slowed accepted that I really have more good in me to offer and happy to share that with my family as much as I can. Trust me still not perfect here, but just happy with who I am for the most part. As for my kids, Emma is definitely more the innocent, good kid. Lily is the one jokester and have a feeling the one that will give me a bit of a run for my money so to speak! But still love them both for the good and bad. Happy Monday Bill again!! 🙂

  2. Clear-eyed Sky says:

    That must have been quite stressful, even if you weren’t consciously aware of it back then. I’m not sure I even remember you talking about your sister. I was the lost child, I think. That’s the one that stands out to me the most.

    • Billybuc says:

      I don’t know, Lizzy….subconsciously, sure. I really wasn’t aware of it until my late teens when i started to realize just how messed up my family was. LOL I was the benefactor of their dysfunction; everyone loved me. My sister….not so much. 🙂

  3. ruchira says:

    I was a rebel while growing up but seemed to have grounded myself over the years…dunno how it all happened.
    But, am glad it did cause would not have met all these wonderful writers and bloggers.

  4. Billybuc says:

    Ruchira, I’m having a hard time picturing you as a rebel. 🙂 I’m glad you grounded yourself too because you are a wonderful friend.

  5. When I was married to my son’s father (now deceased) the last couple years of our marriage were pretty volatile. We argued all the time. In a 1,300 sq. ft. home it was hard for Christopher to not be privy to what was going on. During those years and many to come – even after the divorce – Christopher was very difficult to handle. I think the closest description above for him during that time is “problem child” although he was never ignored. Ever.

    • Billybuc says:

      Thanks for sharing that Sha. There is a couple that lives next door to us who are always screaming at each other. I can’t help but wonder what damage is being done to their two small children.

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