Family dynamics involve the relationships between individual family members. The composition of the family, such as each person’s personality, religious and cultural values, experiences, and family roles affect family dynamics. The dynamics of an individual’s family influence the way he or she behaves. Frequently, a family member may have a specific role in the family, and this can influence his behavior in the privacy of the family and outside of it.

Additionally, the relationships between individual family members influence behavior and can also determine how children act when they become parents. There are relationships between parents as a couple, relationships between siblings, and relationships between parents and children that encompass family dynamics. The roles and attitudes of family members in each of these relationships can affect relationships outside of the immediate family and affect how the family thrives as a unit.

The roles of family members include providing for the family’s welfare and needs, supporting family members emotionally, helping family members develop life skills, maintaining the family by providing guidance and fulfilling responsibilities, and providing intimate gratification between a couple. However, sometimes families are dysfunctional and familial relationships can be stressful and promote poor mental health. Family relationships that are strained or promote stress can lead to tense situations or poor mental health outside the family environment. Even if family expectations or role models are not healthy, individuals often behave according to their family’s expectations.

If your family relationships are promoting unhealthy behavior, Jessica Getson, a licensed counselor serving the Philadelphia area, can help you redefine and establish positive family roles. The keys to healthy family roles include clearly defining them, embracing change as family members get older and their responsibilities increase, determining roles fairly, and responsibly meeting the expectations of the roles. Positive, healthy, family relationships can enhance communication, reduce anger and frustration, and provide family members with support to excel in social relationships, careers, schoolwork and other relevant aspects of their lives.