Relationships among family members strongly affect the development of emerging adults. When students leave for college, family relationships evolve. Parents must readjust their identities both as parents and as partners, developing adult-to-adult aspects of parent-child relationships. Parental acceptance that adult children want more privacy in certain areas of their lives is part of this process.
- Communicate, listen, and value time to talk together.
- Affirm and support one another.
- Develop trust among family members, and take care and time to mend breaches of trust.
- Have a sense humor, sharing play and leisure time together.
- Share responsibility.
- Teach right from wrong.
- Value and practice service to others.
- Share spiritual or religious beliefs in positive and meaningful ways.
- Respect the privacy of one another’s confidences.
- Negotiate rules and compromises mutually.
- View problems as a normal part of life, develop problem-solving techniques, and seek help when necessary.
- Respond to change.
Resources on Family Relationships
- Talking to your Parents about Sex will help you plan an open and honest discussion with your parents about birth control and sexual activity.
- The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) offers a number of articles that will help you prepare to come out to your parents or others close to you.
- This brochure from the University of Illinois discussing how you can navigate divorce in the family.
Dysfunction can be any source of interference with a family’s health function. Most families have some periods of time when stressful circumstances such as a death, a divorce, or a serious illness negatively affect the family’s function. Healthy families return to normal functioning after crises pass. In dysfunctional families, however, problems are chronic and children’s needs may be neglected as negative parental behavior patterns dominate children’s lives.
Online Resources on Family Dysfunction
- Dysfunctional Families: Recognizing and Overcoming Their Effects [PDF download] from the Texas Woman’s University Counseling Center describes several different kinds of family dysfunction and offers strategies for overcoming some their negative effects.
- The article Growing Up with Drinking or Substance Abuse from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Counseling Center discusses the profound effects that a parent’s alcohol or substance abuse can have on the family.
- Understanding Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns in Your Family outlines patterns and coping for families.