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  Home  > Helping Professionals  > Characteristics of a Functional Family

Characteristics of a Functional Family

Adapted from J. Bradshaw, Bradshaw On: The Family

Five Freedoms Expressed—In order to be fully functional, each human being needs to express freely the five basic powers that constitute human strength. These are: the power to perceive; to think and interpret; to emote; to choose, want and desire; and to be creative through the use of imagination.

Unfolding Process of Intimacy—The marriage, as the chief component of the family, needs to be in the process of becoming intimate. This process goes through the stages of: in love; working out differences; compromise and individualization; and plateau intimacy.

Negotiated Differences—Negotiating differences is the crucial task in the process of intimacy foundation. To negotiate differences there must be the desire to cooperate. This desire creates the willingness to fight fair.

Clear and Consistent Communication—Clear and consistent communication are keys to establishing separateness and intimacy—clear communication demands awareness of self and the other, as well as mutual respect for each other’s dignity.

Trusting—Trust is created by honesty. Accurate expression of emotions, thoughts, and desires is more important than agreement. Honesty is self-responsible and avoids shaming.

Individuality—In functional families differences are encouraged. The uniqueness and unrepeatability of each person is the number one priority.

Open and Flexible—In a functional family the roles are open and flexible. One can be spontaneous without fear of shame and judgment.

Needs Fulfilled—Happy people are getting their needs met. A functional family allows all of its members to get their needs filled.

Accountability—Functional families are accountable. They are willing to acknowledge individual problems, as well as family problems. They will work to resolve those problems.

Laws Are Open and Flexible—The laws in functional families will allow for mistakes. They can be, and are, negotiable.




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