Family dynamics refers to the styles and forms of interactions among relatives. It takes into account their roles and relationships, and the various factors that shape their relationships. Family members depend on one another for various reasons. They support, share and love one another.

Family dynamics are patterns depicting how family members relate to one another. This includes roles an individual plays in the family and characteristics.

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Each family has its unique pattern of interaction, their unique family dynamics.

In the past, a healthy family was defined by two parents taking care of their children. Nowadays, there are slight variations. There are families with just a parent and families who have relatives living together.

The first environment a child is exposed to is the family. The family is the child’s primary social group and that is why family dynamics have a direct effect on a child’s development. First, let’s look at characteristics of ideal family dynamics and how it affects a child.

1. Everyone has a voice and is listened to

In a healthy family, everyone’s opinion is heard and no one is shut up. Children have to feel comfortable enough to express themselves. It helps to build their self-esteem. When their opinions are listened to, it builds in their confidence in themselves.

2. There is balanced parent-child relationship

The roles are clearly defined as to who the parent is and who the child is in a healthy family. There are families when one or both parents are negligent and as a result of that, the child or children have to step up to take care of the family. The parents are supposed to be the caretakers of the family, most especially the children.

3. Security and safety

A healthy environment is supposed to be safe and the same applies to family. In a family, no one is supposed to feel threatened, either from an external force or an internal force. Children need to grow up in a safe place, a place where they don’t feel insecure. There should be the absence of violence: physical or emotional, within the family. Children should feel safe to be themselves, especially within the family.

4. Love and care

The most important thing for a child is to be loved and cared for. Children who grew up in loving households grow up to have a positive outlook on life and tend to hold themselves in high regard. They feel worthy of love and have successful relationships. Another thing is knowing how to show love. Some parents struggle with showing their children love, either because of how they grew up or some other factor, leaving the child in doubt of the parents’ love.

Love makes a child feel valued and wanted.

Parents try their best to cater for their children but it doesn’t mean that their approach is healthy for the child. Some of the things that have an adverse effect on a child’s development are:

5. Nature of the parents’ relationship

The kind of relationship that exists between the parents goes a long way to shape a child’s integral beliefs and views, especially on relationships. Do the parents always argue or fight? Are they separated or divorced? Unknown to most parents, their relationship with each other has a direct influence on the child’s development and their ability to have long, lasting relationships.

A child whose parents are divorced may have the feeling of being the cause of the separation or begin to have thoughts of being left by loved ones.

6. Family members’ personality

Are any of the family members exhibiting some toxic traits? This can impair a child’s mental health and feed negativity into the child. For example, if one or both parents are abusive, it removes safety from the home, leaving the child to grow up in fear. Such children often grow up to be insecure and they have a pessimistic view of life.

Children learn faster than most people think. They observe their environment and it dictates how they act and what they hold as core values. Important individuals around them are the first source of learning.

7. Style of parenting (softness versus strictness)

If the parents are too strict with their child and are always trying to mold the child into their idea of perfection, the child may grow up with repressed feelings and learn to be reserved. The child will hardly open up to people and the self-esteem will be very low. When the child’s flaws are being quickly pointed out, the child will have the feeling of not being able to do anything right. Such a child will feel comfortable leaving decisions to others and might have a hard time standing up for himself or herself.

Softness, on the other hand, also affects a child’s development. If the parents never fault the child or always overlook their mistakes out of love, then that child will grow up with overly high self-esteem. They will hold themselves in high regard and won’t understand when others don’t. They will be blind to their faults and be selfish. Children are raised this way to expect to get everything they want because their parents tried to meet their every need and want.

The family is the most important social environment for a child’s development. What happens within the family shapes a child and is a major factor in how the child will turn out to be as he or she grows up

Sigmund Freud, a psychologist, believes that there are unconscious conflicts left unresolved since childhood that have a role to play in an individual’s mental health. Little things from how a child is fed to how the child is dressed and spoken to can be significant in the life of the child.

As said earlier, a family is the first social environment a child is exposed to. Our environment shapes us and lends a hand to how we see ourselves, others around us, and the world. If a child grows up in a family with healthy family dynamics, that child will most likely grow up to be a kind, strong individual with a clear sense of who he or she is.