We’re here to give you the full story, with the help of an expert in the field.
According to Darlene Lancer, LMFT, codependency expert and author of Codependency for Dummies, codependency appears when a person is focusing thinking and behavior around someone else. These people are reacting to something external rather than their internal cues.
Lancer explains codependent feelings and behavior vary and could become compulsive or worsen overtime if left untreated. Core feelings include denial and low self-esteem, while core behaviors can include dependency, dysfunctional boundaries, and control of oneself and others.
As Lancer explains, dysfunctional communication arises when there is an absence of communication, or even the appearance of verbal abuse. Children become frightened to express their feelings and are often blamed, shamed or scolded.
Inconsistency of rules leads to children “walking on eggshells,” and living in constant fear, which can ultimately cause delinquent behavior or other issues as a result of what amounts to a violation of their worth and dignity.
According to Lancer, parents who are emotionally or physically absent create role confusion in the household. A child may take on parental responsibilities or becomes a confidant and companion of the parent. This is psychologically damaging to children because they will repress their own feelings in fear of betraying their parent.
according to Lancer, is “internalized shame” which can hide in our
self-conscious and be triggered. In a home where shame is used as a weapon,
children will internalize it and will develop shame-based beliefs such as “I’m
a bad person” or “I hate myself.”
As Lancer explains, dysfunctional parenting leads to codependency. Parents who behave in this manner can create an environment which is unreliable and inconsistent, resulting in situations where children harbor long-term trust, resentment, and anger issues.
Lancer explains how children, as a result of trauma, may develop what is called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) which is similar to PTSD experienced by war veterans. Childhood trauma has, not totally surprisingly, also been connected by research to symptoms of negative health in adults.
symptoms progress in stages and can worsen if left untreated, explains Lancer.
These symptoms could lead to feelings of anger and resentment, depression,
hopelessness, despair, and general numbness.
Symptoms include feelings of shame and low self-esteem. Poor boundaries are typical of codependents and members of a codependent family may feel responsible for others’ feelings or blame others for their own.
As a result of these poor boundaries, codependents are easily triggered and reactive. Some put others’ ne before their own because they feel it’s their responsibility.
Families can fix their behaviors (Source: Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock.com)Breaking
Chances are, if a child is raised in a codependent household, they too will become codependent. However, the good news is symptoms of codependency are reversible and there are organizations such as Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) which exist to help people live happy lives and maintain healthy relationships. Seeking therapy and other forms of treatment can help you achieve this as well!
According to Lancer, there are steps one can take to heal. Her recommendations follow.
out of denial
go of others
an autonomous Self
pleasure – develop friends, hobbies
to be assertive and set boundaries
larger goals and passions
There is no such thing as a perfect family. In fact, family can feel quite the opposite — and that’s okay. However, healing and reversing the effects of codependency, and working to change a codependent environment, can help break the cycle and ensure children have the opportunity to grow into well-adjusted adults capable of forming their own relationships, and families free of codependency.
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