|The Ten Commandments of Dysfunctional/Alcoholic Families
The Ten Commandments
The First Commandment:
Thou shalt reinterpret reality to preserve the perfect fantasy.
Sample Situation: This commandment is designed to hide family
secrets. If you saw dad stagger and fall down the basement steps
because he was drunk, you can't tell the truth. "Daddy wasn't
drunk; he simply lost his balance and tripped. Poor Daddy."
Application: Even if you see it, it's not real. You must have made a
mistake. Therefore, reinterpret what you saw to make it nice and
respectable. If you don't, people will think you're and we're all
crazy. We wouldn't want them to think that now, would we?
Motto: Always believe the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the alcoholic truth.
The Second Commandment:
Thou shalt always send mixed messages,
especially when it concerns relationships..
Sample Situation: A dominating father tells his child,
"I love you. Now beat it and leave me alone."
Application: You don't really know what's true. Either your father
loves you or he hates you. Since you never know for sure, you'll
never be quite sure if others really mean what they say since those
you loved most only spoke in mixed messages. They sounded
good, but you couldn't trust them.
Motto: Avoid people and relationships. It's the safe thing to do.
The Third Commandment:
Thou shalt be an adult.
Sample Situation: Children were made to take care of their parents emotionally,
physically, or sexually and to meet their parents' "childish" needs for power, attention,
sex, and belonging. The children submitted to avoid physical and emotional abandonment
by their parents. Children in these environments can't really remember a "childhood." For
this reason, children were always expected to be adults.
Application: Being child-like and spontaneous is irresponsible and bad. You must act like
an adult at all times and be responsible, even if you're only five years old.
Motto: There's no such thing as child's play. It's all serious stuff.
The Fourth Commandment:
Thou shalt keep secrets from others.
Sample Situation: Daddy has a "secret" that only he and his little girl know. Of course,
she can't tell Mommy. If she does, Daddy will hurt you and Mommy might leave and never
Application: A child's most important duty is to protect the image of their parents and
family in the community.
Watch what you say and be careful not to act funny around other people either. After
all, as family we have to protect each other. If you stay quiet, you're loyal.
If you can't, we won't love you.
Motto: To really love someone is to show loyalty by protecting their "secrets" at all
The Fifth Commandment:
Thou shalt protect family secrets.
Sample Situation 1: A member of the family commits suicide. Since this is not
acceptable to discuss member had ever lived here must be discarded. After all, no one
in our family would commit suicide, would they?
Sample Situation 2: A member of the family commits suicide. Since this is
not acceptable to discuss member had ever lived here must be discarded.
After all, no one in our family would commit suicide, would they?
Application: Our family doesn't have any problems, does it? Even if we did, we don't
have to discuss or deal with them. After all, they're not that important. We can simply
deny their existence so that we don't have to deal with the grief.
Motto: Life's too painful to have to deal with the pain and the problems. Just ignore
them, they'll go away.
The Sixth Commandment:
Thou shalt not feel.
Sample Situation: A child cries because her best friend is moving away. "You shouldn't
feel like that. Stop crying!" yells her mother angrily.
Application: Since any display of emotion might betray the family secrets that all is not
perfect, all emotions must be repressed and numbed.
After all, we're a normal family.
We're not like other people who get angry, sad, or afraid.
Motto: Be respectable. After all, respectable people never show their emotions or pain.
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Survivors of Abuse, Dysfunction, Addiction and
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If you are ready to make the change / transition to begin your
spiritual or healing journey (or have already begun) and want to
do so in the company of others going in the same direction, why
not email me? You may be able to exchange or share experience
for others' mutual benefit and growth.
I sincerely hope that you take the Less Travelled Road
and that it brings awakening and healing to you.
A family's purpose (remembering the cultural/community component) can be seen as:
the living, sharing, nourishing and development of life in healthy circumstances - it is
easy to see the differences in comparison.
In sick families/relationships, when this purpose is no longer fulfilled - such as when
making a living or caring for children becomes immersed in addictions, lies, violence, or
personal manipulation, yet still continues, that system has become dysfunctional - with
strong codependency traits.
- If, for example, Dad's drinking or abusing Mom allows him to continue working at
his meaningless job, that the family depends on, then this behavior becomes
accepted as part of the family system.
- Because the child is born into it, the family's method of functioning is seen as
"normal", rather than sick, maladaptive or deviant - it becomes simply "the way
things are" for that child. It is part of their socialization process.
- This form of dysfunction is shrouded in non-communication, alienation, fear, denial
and anger which, while shared by all, is not permissible to express.
- These feelings get channeled into standardized behavior patterns designed to
keep the unhealthy system functioning as smoothly as it can under the
- The patterns become second nature, part of the basic survival mechanisms which
people carry through into all their subsequent situations.
The "good news" is, that these can be overcome, reversed, and healed from
(see "The Awakening").
Klaas Tuinman M.A
Deerfield (Yarmouth County) Nova Scotia - 2009 [Rev. 2010-17]
The Seventh Commandment (1):
Thou shalt allow your boundaries to be violated, especially by those who "love" you.
Sample Situation: A child trying to accomplish a task continues to persist and work on it,
hoping to gain a sense of accomplishment and approval. "Don't be so stubborn!" mommy
says. "Just give up. There's more important things than that to be done! Now put that
stuff away and clean the house so that mommy knows you love her."
Lesson Learned: Anything you want is not worth protecting. Only those you love can tell
you what is important and what's not. Quit thinking for yourself and just do what makes
everyone else happy.
Motto: Because others are more valuable than you,
you don't have the right to maintain your own boundaries or to make decisions.
The Seventh Commandment (2):
Thou shalt be hyper-vigilant
Sample Situation: A child is constantly reminded how dangerous the world is. People
can't be trusted either. Therefore, stay aloof, don't get too close to anybody.
Lesson Learned: The only way to be safe in this world is to be careful and insulate
yourself from others.
Be careful. Always be on guard They might hurt you.
If you need help, don't ask for their help.
Do it yourself.
Motto: Always be on your guard.
The wise person is always over-prepared and distrustful of everyone and everything.
The Eighth Commandment:
Thou shalt not let anyone do anything else for you. Do it all yourself.
Sample Situation: Parents continually remind the child that no one is to be trusted.
If they do something for you, they're doing it to manipulate you.
Lesson Learned: Stay aloof and don't make friends with anybody.
After all, if you get too close, they'll use, hurt and abuse you.
And remember this: nobody does anything for anyone
unless they want something from you.
Motto: Do everything yourself.
The Ninth Commandment:
Thou shalt be perfect
Sample Situation: "Just because you got all 'A's on your report card doesn't mean that
you couldn't have done better. You're lazy. Now get to work and let's see you get some
Lesson Learned: If it's not perfect, people won't love you. No matter how good it is,
it's never good enough . . . but keep trying!
Motto: You're only as good as your performance and that's still not good enough!
The Tenth Commandment:
Thou shalt not forgive yourself or others.
Sample Situation: "You're always in my way, child! Why do you keep asking me to play
with you? ? Don't you know I played with you last year? Wasn't that enough?! You ought to
be ashamed of yourself! Go to your room. Don't bother me."
Lesson Learned: The only way I can be forgiven and loved is if I can earn it by being
mistakes, even a small one, they'll reject me or think I'm incompetent or worthless. I'm
afraid I will make a mistake, I know I will, I feel so guilty. Therefore, even if I think I can
do it, I won't. After all, I could make a mistake and then what would I do? Oh, I could
never go back and say I'm sorry!
Motto: Since Jesus' doesn't forgive me, I can't forgive you either.
The Ten Commandments Of Dysfunctional Families:
The First And Great Commandment Is This:
"Be a "good" person: Be blind, be quiet, be numb, be careful, keep
secrets, avoid reality, avoid relationships, don't cry, don't trust,
don't feel, be serious, don't talk, don't love and above all, make
everyone think you're perfect . . even if it makes you feel guilty."
The Second Is Like Unto It:
"Since you're worthless and nobody loves you anyway (including
yourself), don't try to change yourself. You're not worth the effort
and you couldn't do it if you tried anyway. God won't help you either.
So get back where you belong. There's nothing wrong anyway, so
what's your problem! See, I told you that you were stupid."
-Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.
|Dawn Cove Abbey
Roadside Assistance on your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2017
Questions and comments welcomed.
|Those who want to heal
will find a way;
those who aren't ready yet,
will find an excuse.