How do you change 5 dysfunctional family rules to functional family rules? You simply do and encourage the opposite of the dysfunctional rules. Instead of Don't talk. Don't trust. Don't feel, and Don't be selfish, you Talk, Trust, Feel, Take Care of Yourself, and Rock the Boat.
Talk. Be open-minded. Communicate that you want to hear from everyone in the family about what is going on in their lives. Don't punish anyone for speaking their own truth. Try not to be reactive and defensive when someone speaks truth to you that you find painful. Don't pretend things are okay when they aren't.
Trust. Act trustworthy by keeping your promises, keeping confidences, and admitting when you are wrong. Always speak your truth plainly and clearly and don't lie. Build trust through your actions by living honorably. Offer trust to trustworthy family members.
Feel. Feelings are not right or wrong; they just are. Feel your emotions and allow other family members to feel their emotions. Don't tell anyone they shouldn't feel the way they do. Accept the feelings of others even when it is difficult and painful for you. Never punish feelings. Allow children to express their emotions and validate them.
Take Care of Yourself. It isn't selfish to take care of yourself while still caring for others in your family. Model that each family member has the right and responsibility to take care of his or her own needs. Encourage each family member to pursue individuality and purpose by becoming who God created him/her to be.
Rock the Boat. Communicate that the family and its members need feedback. Be willing to risk speaking the truth even when it might hurt or cause upset. Care more about the health of the whole family than appeasing one family member out of fear of a reaction. Deal with problems and family pain as they come up and be willing to get outside help when it is needed.
Proverbs 4:26 tells you to "make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm" (NIV). These five simple things show you how to change 5 dysfunctional family rules to functional family rules to allow your family to stand on a firm foundation.
Relationship Prayer: Help me to change the dysfunction in my family by acting in ways that bring function and health to my relationships with all my family members.
Relationship Challenge: Do everything you can to change these 5 dysfunctional family rules to functional family rules by doing and encouraging these things in your family.
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Karla Downing is an author, speaker, licensed marriage and family therapist, and Bible study teacher. Karla's passion is to help people find freedom in Christ in the midst of their difficult relationships and circumstances through Biblical truths and practical tools.