Dysfunctional Family Roles – 7 Silent Roles in Dysfunctional Families

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Before sharing with you the most common dysfunctional family roles, let me share a story with you.

Last week, Asha’s husband abused her, hit her, and threatened to kill her. When her terrified child rushed to her mother, the Highly drugged husband started beating the child – this is the common story of many dysfunctional families!

In this article, we will discuss the roles of a dysfunctional family, their effects on an individual person, and also on society. We will also discuss the causes of the dysfunctional family, and in the last, we will conclude the whole discussion on how to cope up with this phenomenon.

Also Read:

Definition of Dysfunctional family

A dysfunctional family can be described as:

A neglecting, abusive, and disobedient behavior towards family members that arises continuous conflicts and misunderstandings in a family which result in ignorance, and thus establishes a dysfunctional family.

There is a famous saying in Chines tradition:

“If a certain relation is giving you a headache more than pleasure, it means the relationship has completed its time span.”

dysfunctional relation



7 Alarmingly Common Dysfunctional Family Roles

In any dysfunctional family, its members naturally adapt to one of the following roles. These dysfunctional family roles are quite common in our society.

1. The Helpless:

Insecure and aggressive members are the root problem of the dysfunctional family; they always need extra protection and attention from their parents or partner. They damage their personalities by providing excuses about their fault and accusive behavior for someone else.

2. The Favorite One – Hero:

In most of the families, the maturer kid receives more attention, love, kindness, purity of time, and much more. Therefore, such kids take the role of the hero in a dysfunctional family. He/she pretends to be normal and never dare to come across the tragic reality of their family because everything is well organized and happy for them. They have been pampered by the parents where other siblings don’t get much attention 

The heroes of the dysfunctional family are broadly successful but ruin from inside. They tend to be confident in a situation and fight for their rights.

3. The Caretaker:

Caretaker role in Dysfunctional family

Mostly the second child of the dysfunctional family becomes a caretaker whether it’s a boy or a girl. They are responsible and pretend to be the parent of younger siblings. Their childhood ends very soon and they lose their innocence in such a developing age when other kids are playing with their toys the caretaker kid learns to live like an adult.

Because of the unhealthy toxic environment, they are forced to become mature early. Hence, they start earning at a growing age. They do that because of the unhealthy environment and financial problems. They grow up with these challenges, therefore, they want to get rid of all these problems.

They are emotionally very strong, So they are not hesitating to take the blame on behalf of their young siblings. This thing naturally makes other siblings directly or indirectly depend upon the caretakers.

A perfect quote by Stephanie Bannett_Henry:

”Everyone survives in different ways, sometimes graceful, sometimes Ugly but all the same, brave and Certain.”

4. The Lost Kid:

In this role, kids are being invisible or can say become a ghost of the family, they crawl into the trench where no one uncovers their weakness. Ashamed and hesitated towards everything, they get irritated and upset when someone judges or observe them or even try to talk. They suffer a lot because they don’t share their feelings with anyone and own rigid and offensive behavior or become very shy.

5. The Listener – Counselor:

Listeners or the counselors are the kids who help the other family members to come back to normality after a tragic or lost situation. They also never notice like lost kids, still, they are most important. Loss kids are shy and ashamed, but listeners or counselors never being shallow or get a negative approach. They listen to other family members and have the ability to calm and listen humbly when any family member wants to be heard.

They are the soft-spoken and wise people trying to solve problems.

6. The Scapegoat:

When you see someone in your family, teasing, irritated, and pointing out other weaknesses. He/she is playing the role of scapegoat in the dysfunctional family. Also called the problematic child of the family. They approach the negative behavior with an ambiguous and hostile attitude to hide their downside regarding their family members. They always get into trouble due to their poor social skills and rebelliousness.

They practice all these destructive acts because they are emotionally, mentally even though physically distressed. They are risk-takers and opportunist to achieve their life goals.

7. The Mascot – Clown:

They are entertainers of a dysfunctional family because they always pretend to be happy and all the time overcome their hitches through the hilarious way. They entertain their selves as well as their family members. Although they are deep and have a strong impact, although they also ignored like a lost kid and listener, but never become shy like a lost kid or voiceless like a listener.

5 Frightening Causes of a Dysfunctional Family

There are some core dynamics that cause a dysfunctional family. Address these subjects of concern to control the prevailing dilemma.

  1. Alcoholism/ Drug Addiction: Addiction not only destroy a person but the whole family as well. This is the major cause to form a dysfunctional family in society.
  2. Physical Disability is also the cause of a dysfunctional family. When a person caught into any permanent physical disability, they tend to avoid their weaknesses by shouting on others.
  3. Mental Stress: It is one of the most basic causes of a dysfunctional family. It leads to many disorders that make an individual mentally ill and unable to understand his/her position and potential.
  4. Lack of unity and understanding drives a person into isolation that develop a dysfunctional family.
  5. Financial pressure is the most common and marvelous situation in our society.

Who is affected? Impact of Dysfunctional Families Roles

The dysfunctional families disturb society and may generations in large. Different masses formes in society. Healthy people build a healthy society, on the other hand, a disturbed person may affect the progress and healthy environment of a society. If a mother or a father doesn’t play his/her role in an effective way, the generation can also be affected. Improper care affects society and encourages bad habits in a child’s personality.

How an Affected Person can Seek Professional Help

The National Council on Alcoholism and drug have described dysfunctional family role: 

The dysfunctional families strive for a person to follow the family habits of consuming drugs or alcohol to escape from problems popping up into their lives. They are not able to face the situations manly, so they escape from the embarrassment from this mean. They don’t want to face the humiliation of being labeled as a drug addict because of their family background.

American Society of Addiction Medicine

Dysfunctional family members can be treated as an effective and efficient way and become a responsible society member. By different activities and personality traits, the role of the dysfunctional family can easily recognize and treated.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions  on Dysfunctional Family Roles

What are the characteristics of a dysfunctional family?

Poor correspondence. Passionate or physical maltreatment. Medication or liquor misuse. Hairsplitting. Dread and unusualness. Forswearing. Lack of regard of limits.

How do dysfunctional families affect society?

Being amazingly self-basic. Low confidence. Improvement of psychological well-being issues, for example, nervousness or misery. Trouble communicating considerations and sentiments.

What are the effects of a dysfunctional family?

Experiencing childhood in a dysfunctional family can to a great extent effectively affect the youngsters in the family. Doubt, uneasiness, loathe and other negative feelings lead to an uncertain grown-up. Certain basic standards of conduct can be seen in individuals who originate from a useless family.

What is a toxic family?

Covering, disregard, passion, sexual or physical maltreatment, overprotectiveness—these are just a couple of indications of a harmful family. Be that as it may, in contrast to different connections, you can’t just cut off familial ties. Mutual history, enthusiastic, and natural bonds make it difficult for anybody to explore or escape these connections.


In this article, we have discussed the seven most common dysfunctional family roles and also shared the definition of the dysfunctional family according to various authorities.

Now we are looking forward to hearing from you about your experiences and observations on this saddening yet growing phenomenon. Let us hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Further Reading:

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