13 Characteristics of Children From Emotionally Barren Families

Posted by in ACOA, adult children, Louise Behiel | 58 comments

As previously explained, the initial work on the roles learned by children and the rules they live by was completed looking at adult children of alcoholics.  Over time, it became clear that these roles and rules applied to any child raised with an emotionally unavailable parent.  The reasons for the emotional barrenness of the family are many; addiction, chronic illness, mental illness, moving around the foster system, and even rigidly held religious beliefs.

In a therapy session this morning, the client and I talked about the challenges of trying to live and respond to life as an adult when our beliefs were cemented in childhood.  It usually takes a great deal of work to change our beliefs so we can see things differently.  Why? Because we develop characteristics when we’re born into emotionally empty homes?

One of the first people to articulate this material was Dr Janet Woititz.  In 1983 she realized the work applies to many adult children, because emotionally barren families are legion.

All of this work (from her and many others) resulted in a list of characteristics common to adult children.  These characteristics are listed all over the web and in many books (usually in reference to adult children of alcoholics), but this particular list has been taken from about.com

Adult children of emotionally barren families:

  1. Guess at what normal behavior is.
  2. Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
  3. Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  4. Judge themselves without mercy.
  5. Have difficulty having fun.
  6. Take themselves very seriously.
  7. Have difficulty with intimate relationships.
  8. Overreact to changes over which they have no control.
  9. Constantly seek approval and affirmation.
  10. Usually feel that they are different from other people.
  11. Are super responsible or super irresponsible.
  12. Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
  13. Are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsively leads to confusion, self-loathing and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.

As you read this list, I’m sure you can see some similarity to the discussion of roles, and you’d be right.  Some of these characteristics apply more to some roles than others.  But I think you’ll see that they are applicable to many of us, in many situations.

Because there are so many of these characteristics, I’m going to consider three or four per post.  I’ll post the major informaiton on Monday and then follow up with a discussion later in the week.  Feel  free to  ask questions and post comments.  As always I love to hear from you.  If you see yourself or someone else, feel  free to share your opinions, but remember: no diagnosing others.  This material is presented simplistically to aid in personal understanding.

As a quick reminder, there are four roles: Hero, Rebel, Lost Child and Mascot. There are three rules: Don’t talk, Don’t trust, and Don’t feel.

The first characteristic of adult children raised in emotionally barren homes is that they guess at what normal behavior is.  This is very common in adolescents as they explore and are exposed to new circumstances, but these adults seem unable to generalize what they’ve learned to more situations.  They may become comfortable at small family dinners (or not) or team meetings.  But put them in a large social event or major professional event and they are uncertain and lost.  This discomfort may be covered by over-congeniality or by introversion and withdrawal but it is present.

Remember, as children, these people were never certain of what would be happening at home: war or peace; emotional outburst or withdrawal; parents talking, not talking or screaming; using or not. As a result the ability to generalize social settings was compromised.  For an extrovert, this often shows up in a different way: that discomfort will be masked with ultra-sociability.  Talking to everyone and being the life of the party. But that behavior can mask the discomfort of the social event.

How does that work with the roles? A hero, for example, may be very comfortable as the conference chair, president of the organization or leader of the team.  In that role, they will network, made introductions and ensure that everyone is included and participating. But as soon as their job is finished (ie they’re no longer president, chair or leader) you will notice they sit in the back row and remain quiet.  They may have a hard time itneracting with others or reaching out to others – especially people they may not know well.  They’ll remain with friends and well known associates, almost ignoring the guests of honor from the conference they chaired.  Why? Because they know how to work the room if they are responsible but not as one of the guests because they don’t know how to be comfortable when not in charge – they’re guessing at normal for members of the group.

Can you think of ways the other three roles might play out this characteristic?

58 Comments

  1. I was badly emotionally hurt by my mother since i was young. When i realized that she wont change, i decided to her home. Since then, i have always thought of revenge and i will never forgive her. I never seen her since 2015 and we never talk but we’re hundreds miles away

    • sometimes distance is all we can do for our good. good luck and thanks for sharing

  2. Great insight Louise. This is very true for me, the majority of the things on that list.

    It’s almost unbelievable the behavior so many people in dysfunctional families take as normal. And it makes sense if that’s all they’ve ever known–worst part, in my opinion, is that because they tend to create MORE of the same or similar situations, they keep in that cycle not knowing what normal actually looks like. Sometimes their whole lives! And it’s scary to me.

    I noticed that all of this carries over into every area of life; for example, friendships and the workplace…. I used to choose the wrong friends and dysfunctional companies to work for, selling myself short and accepting less than what I wanted. Compartmentalization is pretty much a myth in the sense that these problems will leak everywhere, no matter how much you try to ignore it. Avoiding it makes it bigger actually, and it will catch up eventually, usually resulting in emotional outburst. Lots of repressed anger and sadness waiting to be unleashed.

    And you know what? I’ve been working on unlearning all of this bad programming for years, I’ve done an almost 180 degree change from my previous mindset. And I’m only in my mid 20s (very grateful I caught on to it so early)… yet, even then, even catching it on early it has been so difficult to reverse, it’s constant work and checking up on myself, being acutely aware of what’s happening and practicing until normal and healthy behavior becomes a habit. Sometimes, I get tired and let go a little bit. Funny how easily those old patterns light up during those times! It’s like I always have to be alert until I’ve built enough healthy patterns to relax a bit. So I can only imagine how hard it is for those people who have lived the dysfunction much longer than I have to do the work and extract the roots. It’s so cancerous and toxic, it needs like thousands of rounds of chemotherapy, so to speak.

    It is worth it, in the end. My closing thoughts: I feel saddened sometimes knowing that all of this work is done just to get on level ground (level 0). We come from the underground, digging our way up, basically fighting only to stand on neutral grounds. Only THEN can we start to build the life we want… and none of this would’ve been necessary if it wasn’t for being born in such emotionally barren families, something we couldn’t control. Not much of a point in lamenting on that, but it is something I think about. The next generation will be even smarter, and the next even smarter, and so on, because this information will reach them sooner, to the point where, I believe, functional families become the norm and children won’t have to deal with this to such a degree.

    • thanks for this comment. at this stage of life as I look back on my life, I have learned that personal development and cultural evolution is two steps forward and one back, and sometimes it’s the reverse. I look at my adult children and they’re so different and who they married is a reflection of their beliefs. I’m lucky my in-laws are all great people. kind and responsible. but in truth, both my kid and their partners come with baggage. some work on it and some don’t. some think i’m out to lunch and others don’t. very interesting to observe. I know i did my part to make my life better and my kids too. what they do with it is up to them.

      • It’s some type of ebb and flow, on a small individual scale and large cultural or even global scale.

        You’re right. I think everyone does their best with what they’re given and their level of self awareness. I used to be angry at my parents, when I got past that I realized three things:

        1) I had to process the anger in order to move on (seriously this step cannot be skipped, the feelings are valid and must actually be felt).

        2) Even so, it’s not that they intentionally meant to hurt me, they truly believed that’s what it took to raise someone the right way. And also, this is all connected to the economy. All these faulty beliefs and messages that get passed down were useful once upon a time, and what’s behind them when you question enough turns out to be economic in nature.

        And 3) Staying angry and disappointed keeps me in the past and from moving on.

        So everyone is trying. Collectively, we’ll get it right one day. But not until after I’m long dead, lol.

        Thanks Louise.

  3. Thank you Louise. It was helpful because I surely have the bulk of those characteristics. The extremely hard on ones self is me for sure. My mother was overwhelmed and I describe my childhood as the herd experience . You were hardly ever talked to directly, only heard, time for lunch, go to bed, time to get up. My mother seemed very distant to me. My first emotional memory is when i was a little over 3 years old. My younger sister was just born. I was walking back to my room when a woman’s voice very loud said Peter come see your sister. I didn’t recognize the woman’s voice but I knew it was my mother. I was totally stunned and realized for the first time how distant I felt. In the first grade I remember a boy and girl talking to each other thru at least half the class. I remember being totally stunned and suddenly realizing that people talk to each other. At least your article doesn’t make me feel so alone about it.

    • thanks for sharing your experience. It is ironic that there are many people with your experience. you are not alone and you are not bad, unworthy, dirty, or worthless. You were raised in a home with an emotionally unavailable parent or parents. but you can change, if you choose.

      good luck

  4. Hi Louise,
    Your article has been insightful and I thank you for sharing your wisdom and expertise.

    I am not a parent but I can see how emotinally devastating my boyfriend is doing to his estranged 17 year old daughter. He refuses to really deal with her like be a loving parent because she intentionally broke his guitar ( He used to play professionally) years ago. True, she never apologized. But I really don’t know how he cannot see that he has to step up and be the adult. The daughter is behaving typical troubled teenager…

    The biological mom left the daughter since she was a baby. The daughter was raised by loving and indulgent grandparents until she was 10. Stayed with the biological Dad – my boyfriend for 2 years and stayed with an aunt on and off for the next few years.)
    I really don’t know how much more I can help as both -boyfriend and her daughter are not really cooperating in any reconcilliation. I am also getting frustated in my dealings with them.

    Any advise on how I should deal with this matter?
    I thank you in advance.

    • the hardest lesson for each of us to learn is that we can’t fix other people or their relationships. it sounds awful, but it is the truth, as you have learned. the very best thing you can do is stay out of it because ironically, they’re as apt to turn on you as they are to turn on each other. Step back, and relax. They will work it out in their own way. His daughter has had a difficult life for a child who is learning to love and trust. Your boyfriend has his own ‘stuff’ given that he let her be raised by grandparents. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m saying it takes a person with a certain type of emotional make up to make that choice. So step back and let them work it out. They will or they won’t but you can’t fix it. Stop making yourself feel bad because you are unable to do the impossible.

      good luck

  5. This has been a helpful article. My mother has bipolar personality and until recently hasn’t taken any medication. Even though she was physically present, I still like I grew up without a mother. My defence mechanism was to find a replacement mother figure and I successfully did. However, in female relationships I feel very insecure, especially new ones where I don’t know where I am at and what their regular behaviour is. I evaluate everything to a t and drive myself crazy trying to figure out if they meant what they said. It causes me a great deal of anxiety until can see over a period of time that the other person loves me regardless. It’s funny, I never have this issue with men, not once.

    • Given that for most of us, our mother carries special importance in terms of nurturing and forming bonds with women, your reaction is normal. of course you’re learning how to do this, because you didn’t learn it from your mom. be patient with yourself and keep working on it. it will come around.

      good luck

  6. The only trait I do not exhibit is the liar.. I am truthful to a fault.. The other 12 hit the nail on the head.. I’m having a very hard time right now because I live alone and I’ve recognized that in order for me to move forward and make myself a better person, I have to let go of my family.. Both my mother and father are severe narcissists.. My mother is a strange one.. She can give me a hug and tell me she loves me, but it feels like no one is there.. She sugar coats everything to make it sound nice, especially when she’s abusing.. I had an accident when I was younger doing chores for them and almost died.. Today I live in pain and digestive agony all day.. I feel like since that day, she realized I might die before her and took her love away from me.. Not like I really had it before that I guess.. She is retired and has lots of time and spends it helping my sister and her husband, and taking care of her kids and doesn’t even take time to message me after I go for tests at the hospital.. Last one was a CT scan and she didn’t contact me for three days after even though I had called her twice.. Then she lied to me and said she had called me back, but there is no record of that… I brought up how sad it made me feel and she said she had so many people in her life that I should try and understand her.. Then she said that if I wanted love it was up to me to seek it out.. When I asked her to please consider how I would feel, she has ignored me… this is after years of abandonment and emotional abuse… The worst thing is I have sent her many clinical articles on narcissism and emotional abuse, and she said she understood and was willing to change, and that she wanted to be a safe person for me… Then she goes and does it all again.. I feel like love is the proverbial carrot dangling in front of a donkey.. Like love is dangling right in front of me but I can never get hold of it.. Anyway.. I think my only choice is to cut all ties and try and build a support group around myself.. I’m a little disillusioned though, it’s such a daunting task being alone and moving forward after all that.. Thanks so much for the article!!

    • You’re welcome. it is critical for each and every one of us on this planet to realize that we can never get anyone else to change. we live with this delusion that is I say the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, they’ll hear me and respond in a way that’s appropriate to me. NEVER going to happen. People only change when they have no other choice. (That includes me, by the way). so we all need to make choices that make us happy, knowing that other people in our lives, even our families, might not be who we need.

      good luck

    • This situation seems remarkably similar to mine.You have my understanding and I feel your pain.
      At a young age I was fortunate enough to have joined the military.This gave me the skillset required for strategic defence and offence.
      In our case there are members of our team that do not have the ability to perform at an acceptable level.
      Knowing this , it is therefore innapropriate that these people be placed in a position of trust.Simply put its our own fault if we ask people to perform at a level which we KNOW they are incapable of.These induviduals are then moved to non tactical positions.
      Pushed to the back in a sense.These individuals must realize that promotion is dependant on performance.
      Cut em loose bro.Feel sorry for them.They only hinder mission outcomes.Try to understand we can bask in the light of love BUT love is for women and children.Study great military figures.Think like a warrior.Wisdom-compassion-JUSTICE.Zero tolerance for those that fall short of a warriors value systems.
      There is a consequence-in the end you will feel nothing.Application of the warriors creed will guide every decision.
      Good luck.The world is full of goid men that have your 6.

      • thanks for your reply. a military analogy is new for me, but i’m glad to see it. it’s like i’ve always said, you cannot change others. you can only live your life to the best you want it to be. so make different choices, go to therapy or a group, find a mentor or coach…whatever it takes but change your life. it’s up to you

        good luck

  7. The question I ask myself in this kind of situation is this: “what can i live with peacefully, for the rest of my life?” Or in other words, how can I behave in such a way that I’m not ashamed of and will not regret. Only you can know what that is. if your guilt arising from not going to your mom, will be devastating, then go to her. BUT is accepting the blame and grovelling is a choice you’ll regret, then don’t do it.

    WHATEVER you do, be sure to acknowledge that neither choice is perfect but you’re making the one you can live with most easily.

    hard to do but necessary.
    good luck

  8. Wow – these 13 things describe me to a “T”. I have also read a book called “If You Had Controlling Parents” by Dan Neuharth which also described me in adult life in much detail. Now divorced with two young children of my own, I am very concerned about them and the issues of my own I brought into parenting. Sometimes I feel really disconnected from my kids emotionally, and I don’t really know how to respond to their *emotional* needs. (Food, clothing, homework, activities… this is not a problem). I am also struggling intensely with a sense of having no purpose and nothing to look forward to since the divorce, and am having a very difficult time “re-inventing” myself as a single parent in his mid-forties. I find myself clinging desperately to routine and keeping things as simple as possible to avoid the constant stress I feel. My kids, 6 and 8, often tell me that I don’t like anything. It’s true, I do say “Daddy doesn’t like doing that…” quite a lot. I seem to have conjure up quite a lot of energy to feel motivated to try new things with the kids. This has always been a problem for me – I don’t really *enjoy* doing that many things. For me, being married and *taking care of my wife* in a sort of codependent way was my main role. When I lost that, I guess you could say I lost myself. So much of my self worth and identity was caught up in being a provider, protector and ultimately *care giver* for a woman who pretty much had ‘special needs’, insofar as emotions go. I really worry for my kids, and I don’t think I am a very good parent – I have so many issues of my own to contend with, it’s hard sometimes to even know where to start.

    • The important thing is to recognize your limitations and then act on them. work with a sponsor or mentor in a group (there are some excellent 12 step groups out there) or a qualified professional therapist and create the life you want. the good news is that as soon as you start your work to heal, your kids will start benefiting. It’s all good – you know what you need, so go out and find out. Interview a therapist or two before you decide who to work with and remember the research says that your success is determined by your level of trust of the professional by the 4th visit.

      Our need to care for others is really common when we come from this kind of childhood – and ironically so often we are rejected by those very people who we think need us. Too weird but I know you can overcome because I have worked with lots of people who have done that very thing.

      good luck

    • I’m glad you posted this, makes my dad’s behavior very clear. I always suspected this to be the case, but I thought my mom was the codependent one. Now I realize it goes both ways.

      So it seems the traditional gender roles (which were very upheld in my family and culture) are pretty harmful. It’s great to see it written down and confirmed, because it’s something I’ve spoken against for so long it felt like I’d been shouting at a wall for decades. It’s prevalent still to this day. And all of it comes down to ‘worthiness.’ We tell women they’re worthy only if they fit in the woman’s role, are supportive of everyone, dedicated to their family, and responsible for everyone’s emotional well being, very often doing all that (unpaid) labor at the expense of their own needs.

      This makes a woman codependent, because she feels validated only when she’s focused on others and their problems. If she dares do it differently, she’s shamed and insulted.

      On the man’s side… we tell men they’re worthy only if they’re providing, dominating, protecting, achieving, and “controlling” their women… very often, of course, at the expense of THEIR OWN emotional needs (which we tell them to stuff down because real men don’t cry and all that) and their physical health (working long hours, for example).

      This makes men codependent, because they feel validated only when they’re acting as ATM machines, taking care of everyone else’s survival/material needs, and being told that’s what a man does. If he dares do it differently, he’s shamed and insulted.

      Society has literally separated the human experience into two halves and told people to be responsible only for one of those halves. What do you get? Dysfunction, emotional unavailability, “split” people instead of WHOLE people, manipulative behavior, direct or indirect control, unhappiness, shame, fear, anger, and all the way down to abuse and violence.

      My dad dominates everyone else in the house, my mom is a shell of a person who cannot take care of herself…. they’re both codependent and emotionally unavailable. Dad thought and still thinks that having food to eat and a roof over one’s head is enough… that’s not a relationship, it feels more like a business transaction, always has. He’s there physically but he’s NOT actually there at all. My mom wants to help, but she gives so much of herself away to my dad’s needs, than not only does she forget about herself entirely, but also shuts down entirely and cannot be present with anyone else. After all, you cannot give what you don’t have and what you do not give yourself!

      Very eye opening.

      • I’m so glad you learned something and yet, it is a reciprocal relationship. The irony is that addiction will often come to an end when the codependents stop enabling. (as long as it’s stopped soon enough). one role can’t exist without the other. good for you to realize this and please, keep shouting about it. we all have a role to play in changing the insanity.

        good luck

        • So true, it takes two to tango, but only one to stop the dance.

          Best thing to do is embody and live our truths as whole human beings. People are catching on.

          • absolutely. I totally agree

      • Wow…. this perfectly describes my own parents situation, which I always found difficult to understand.
        This is a sad reality that adults don’t realise what they are sowing and putting their kids through, only because of 1 person’s ego!!

        • most people don’t realize much about their personal lives. I find it fascinating how blind we are to our own ‘stuff’. glad you found some understanding.

          good luck

  9. These characteristics and roles are communicated so clearly. I recognise these things in myself immediately. Thank god i’m obviously not the only one.. I understand why and how they formed, I acknowledge that it has been an ongoing problem, and I feel the pain of it all the time. I want so badly to let go, move beyond and more than anything to somehow restart the growing, learning and self discovery process that was apparently stunted in me as a child. But when I look in the mirror, I see that i’m paralysed with fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the all too familiar feeling of confirmed failure and inadequacy.. How does one work on this? How does one move beyond this point of recognition, acknowledgement, understanding and desire to change? How do we actually change and spark growth? I’m not sure which is worse- not knowing why or where the pain is coming from in your life or knowing and understanding the pain but not knowing how to change.

    • fear of change is normal, so not to worry. how to change? what you have to determine is the role you’ve learned to manage the stress of your childhood, because recovery varies by the role. but always it’s about doing the uncomfortable, because that’s what is needed to move beyond our comfort zone, which is dysfunctional. does that make sense?

      good luck. the work is well worth it.

  10. Great post, Louise. I’ve just happened on your site (through looking for RWA Calgary!). I’ll be very interested to see the rest in this series.

    • Happy Reading Trish. Hope you enjoy. Calgary RWA is alive and thriving. we’re bringing Michael Hauge in on May 12 (the Saturday of mOther’s day weekend). it should be an excellent day. do you write romance?

  11. new to your blog, and am totally amazed at the insight of this one post. I look forward to reading more, and to reading some of your previous posts so i can understand your personality type characteristics.

    Curious thought: does this apply to actors as well?

    • thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. i’m glad you enjoyed this post. There is much information here, so feel free to look around. This material applies to people in general, regardless of profession, so I’d say yes, but have to admit I have not worked with any actors, so I can’t say definitively.

  12. In my case, I am an introvert who masquerades as an extravert. In situations which require extraverted behaviors (public speaking, court, hearings, negotiations, etc., etc.) I am generally on point. If someone needs something I’m a go-to person and I make things happen. Once I start the process I remain with it long enough to see it is established and then I fade from view. In the present instance a group of people needed an ASL meeting started on a specific day and no one could manage to figure out how to do it, so I did (it was mind-numbingly easy) and now I’m preparing to move on since I’ve got something else to do on that day. It should sustain itself now. I’m good at figuring out how to get people to cooperate in maintaining something that is operational. I’ve just founded a new ACoA group. Once that one is functional I will start a Nar-Anon meeting. I don’t plan on leaving either of those. On the surface I appear very functional. I’m ostensibly open to others (in a very surface way) and personable. I have a large circle of acquaintances, few close friends. I refer to myself as the “Queen of Boundaries.” If someone pushes to get too close to fast I vanish like smoke.

    Since this is sort of a writer’s workshop this is the sort of super-competent heroine who would be inexplicably incapable of finding her “hero.” She might be attracted to deeply flawed individuals incapable of change. Assuming that, the “hero” in this person’s life would be deeply wounded, deeply flawed, emotionally unavailable and that would create the crisis/conflict attraction/repulsion element (I used to be in RWA, ladies). Only through the healing of the “hero/heroine” to be able to trust each other could they break through to love – which would be a healing of the issues of trust, intimacy, etc.

  13. Louise, it’s so interesting to read these posts and formulate pictures in my mind of people I know who fit the profile. It’s a little scary too.

    Can’t wait for more.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  14. Thank you for adding to our understanding of the roles.

  15. I’m kinda off the grid this week Louise, but I want to drop by. Oh boy, the effects of an emotionally distant parent runs deep. Yikes Louise. You are evenually going to share with us what a normal family is like right? LOL! I’m sorry Louise, but I’m too brain dead to answer your question. I am enjoying your series though. See you soon! 🙂

    • Karen, thanks so much for stopping by. not to worry about the questions…catch up and get some rest. and yes, we’ll get to functioning families.

  16. I can guess that the rebel is the guy who gets trashed at the company holiday party and makes an idiot of himself! And the mascot probably lies because it’s what she’s used to doing. More great stuff – thanks for sharing!

  17. I’m so tired I can’t think straight today, Louise, so I’m not even going to try to answer that last question. But I’m guessing that most families are dysfunctional to some degree because I can see so many of these traits in so many people I know. Another great installment to this very informative series. I’m loving all the information you’re sharing. 🙂

    • get some rest, dear lady. and yes, I think most of our families have some dysfunction so these traits show up quite often. the number of traits and their depth indicates the level of dysfunction, I think

  18. BTW, the first F2F ACoA meeting takes place in my locale tonight. 🙂

  19. From the time I was about seven I always felt as if I were on the outside looking in. As someone with ADD/ADHD I learned that if a project is time-limited I have a better chance of completing it. I only recently learned to stop judging myself so harshly. I would never expect of another what I have demanded of myself. Fun? What’s fun? Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, etc. I found out early if I kept myself busy I would become invisible. We just won’t mention the relationship thing, right? Panicking over change I can’t control? Ohm, mani padme, hummmm. Where’s the Tibetan singing bowl? “Breathe, damn it, breathe When it comes to seeking affirmation, “Am I doing it right?” I’m not different, exactly, I’m merely…atypical. If you need it done come to me, unless I am having one of my “I can’t get anything done days.” But if I say I’ll do it or kill myself trying. Old dog Trey has nothing on me when it comes to loyalty. I gave up impulsivity. Now I do slow motion decisions, considering all the alternatives, and end up with the same mess to clean up. One of my ACoA friends said, “It is amazing we ever came as far in the world as we have, carrying the baggage we do.”

  20. Another great post, Louise.

  21. I have to admit some of those characteristics fit me to a T. I’m loyal to a fault even when the person doesn’t deserve it. There were others that fit me, too. Very interesting post, Louise.

    • most of us have a few of these, since no one comes from a perfect family. it’s when they become overwhelming that there’s a problem.

  22. And to add to what Marcy said – how the hero wouldn’t see anything wrong with that. I suspect I worked for a man like this – drove me insane because if he wasn’t leading the meeting/discussion – he’d barge in and just take charge and step on everybody else on the way.

    • no the hero wouldn’t see that as a problem at all.

  23. Eye opening! I’m so glad Jen told us about your blog.

  24. I liked the example at the end of how the first characteristic interacts with the hero role. It gives such a good understanding of how a person from an emotionally barren family can almost seem like they have two different personalities.

    • Exactly, Marcy. and this ‘duality’ can apply to every role. aren’t we fascinating beings?

  25. OK, Can i get an AMEN to EVERY SINGLE CHARACTERISTIC!? IN fact, Louise, i think the list used to say something like children were only “super responsible” from way back … i may be wrong, but the addition of super irresponsible is a good one. 🙂

    All these points vacillate in my experience, but these are SPOT on. God bless the American “LEGION” family … and many more …

    Seriously … i know so many emotional vacuums folks. A sorry look at our society probably. Thanks for sharing this. Hope your Easter-like celebration was full of love and emotional connection. XO mel

    • thanks for your comments, sweetie. easter was lovely here. hope yours was equally lovely.

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