Today we are talking with Michelle Anthony, author of Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family.
Michelle says, “No one who starts a family plans on falling into patterns of dysfunction, but between the baggage of the past and the pressures of the world today, developing destructive parenting patterns is all too easy.”
Growing a Spiritually Healthy Family w/Dr. Michelle Anthony
Q: In the book, you present six dysfunctional parenting styles. Of those six, which do you think is the most common?
Michelle: All of these represent the common dysfunctions in today’s families.
What is interesting about them is that these are the “acceptable” dysfunctions . . . so much so that we don’t normally think of these styles as “dysfunctional.”
We tend to think of addiction and abuse as dysfunctional, but things such as control and friendship in parenting as good things.
So when these things begin to creep into the excessive category we simply justify we are doing more of a good thing rather than engaging in a habit stemming from a place of brokenness or dysfunction.
I have found rarely do we fit neatly into one category.
Often we see many of these dysfunctions and/or their tendencies woven together in our lives. Once we take our eyes off God’s plan, this loss of focus opens up our families to all kinds of “acceptable” dysfunctions simply to survive.
Q:What is the common thread you see in spiritually healthy families?
Michelle: Spiritually healthy families still make mistakes and have sin in their lives; however they are endeavoring to live in reality, and they own up to their shortcomings and mistakes.
They keep short accounts with God and others so a one-time offense does not have to become a habit or character flaw.
Q: What should a parent do if they recognize themselves in the descriptions of dysfunctional parents?
Michelle: The first part is simply to recognize the dysfunctional behavior.
Next, to accept responsibility for its presence instead of blaming others is important too. Once this has taken place, I encourage parents to have a conversation with God about it — simply as if you were sharing it with a friend. God is not going to be surprised by what we say; He already knows it all.
[ctt template=”11″ link=”axGVb” via=”no” ]Taking an honest assessment of ourselves is healthy. What we do with that assessment will either grow us or ground us. #livingfreetogether #nocondemnation #healing #transformation #family[/ctt]
Q: Why is it important for parents to identify whether or not they were themselves parented in a dysfunctional style?
Michelle: If we can understand where we came from, often it will inform where we are going.
Parents typically fall into either repeating sin patterns that were handed down to them or they will swing the pendulum to the opposite extreme and begin a new dysfunction in an almost-rebellious response that is motivated by a heart that does not want to repeat how their parents did it.
Neither of these extremes solves the problem. Yet, taking an honest assessment of how we were parented and the good and bad impact it has had on us creates an environment for parents to make healthy and appropriate adjustments to their new families.
Q: You talk about living “on script.” What do you mean by that?
Michelle: It acknowledges I am not God and He knows better. He sees the beginning from the end and is working things together to accomplish His plans. It is His story, not mine. But I do play a part in it. If I don’t play my part, no one else will.
Q: What is one step you can take toward breaking a dysfunctional cycle?
There are actually a few steps that aid us in being able to break these cycles.
The first is to “renew our minds” on a regular basis by being in God’s Word.
The second step is that we must, with truth in hand, take an honest assessment of our past. We must be willing to take ownership for the sins we have committed and the mistakes we have made. In addition, we must also look at the sins or offenses committed against us. Some of these are painful, but we cannot move forward without a clear view of our past.
The third step is what we do after we take the honest assessment…and that is to allow ourselves to mourn. Mourning is often erratic and is quite different for each person. It looks different and has a range of time that is unique to the person and the situation. It is not something that can be rushed and is often delayed in persons for months, years, or even decades.
The fourth step is to walk forward into a fresh future, limps and all, by simply taking one day at a time. Often we can get overwhelmed by the journey, or create undue demands on ourselves to not have “a limp”, but the truth is that every one of us has a limp in some fashion or another.
We take on one day at a time, and when we succeed, we celebrate…and when we fail, we tell ourselves, ‘Today is just one day…tomorrow is a new one with a fresh dose of mercy from God”.
From Suzie: There is so much good in this, friends. I’ve walked this myself and my prayer is to continue to grow. If something “old” tries to get in the way of the new God is doing in me, and in the generations after me, he has promised to complete the work he began in me. I hold on to that!
Praying for you today. ~ Suzie
Resources to help you grow
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family by Michelle Anthony.
The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places by Suzanne Eller
What’s True About You by Holley Gerth.