Types of Families – Part 4

Types of Family – Part 4

Here are five other descriptions of family types.  The first is what I call the “Generational Split” family.  The distinguishing characteristic of this kind of family is a lack of significant interaction between parents and children–not just between the two generations currently living in the same household but also between the parents and their parents.  Significant interaction takes place only within each generations.

Sometimes, in this type of family, there is a pattern of emotional and relational connections skipping a generation.  For example, the children are connected to their grandparents, and the children of the children will be connected to their grandparents.  And so it goes, generation after generation.

A similar kind of family would be called “Gender Splits.”  This is where the split happens along gender lines within families.  Mine was something like that.  Whenever we went some place in the car, the rule was “men in the front, women in the back.”  So I sat in the front with my dad, and my sister sat in the back with our mother.  Often this split takes place when there is a strong split in sex-based roles for the men and the women.

A third kind of family could be called the “Fused Pair.”  In this type of family, two members of the family cut themselves off from the others.  They then become the nucleus around which the rest of the family revolves.  The other members of the family experience that family as disengaged and detached, but the two people who are fused experience the family as enmeshed.

A fourth kind of family would be called “Queen (or King) of the Hill.”  This is a family that is completely dominated by one person.  It could be anyone even one of the children, but in the vast majority of cases it is the mother who is in charge.  She has the power.  Sometimes it could be the grandmother–mother’s mom–and mother is under her rule awaiting the day she will take over the role.

A fifth kind of family is similar, but we call it “the Quiet Dictator.”  It’s very similar to the “Queen of the Hill,” but he quiet dictator works behind the sctenes, pulling the strings quietly and unobtrusively.  They are able to skillfully manipulate the rest of the family emotionally, and every other way as well.  This family would be very similar to the rigidly enmeshed family, described in our last posting.

Ultimately, there are probably as many types of families as there are kinds of family dysfunctions.  But these are some common types that have been identified in the literature.  Most unhealthy families will fall into one of these patterns.

Question:  Which of these family types comes closest to describing your family of origin?

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3 Responses to Types of Families – Part 4

  1. andre says:

    Dave, can you recommend a good book on family types?

    • drstoop says:

      You’re right–it’s the circumplex model. My book Forgiving our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves has a chapter on family types.

  2. Patti Iverson says:

    Thanks so much for sending Evelyn Iverson your book. She wants to write you a note of thanks via email. Where can she send it? She’s not often communicating with those of her “past” lives, but you struck a chord in her–and when one is “almost” 99 years of age, we must honor that, eh? BTW, do you happen to know of the whereabouts of Dr. Frank Freed? Thanks bunches. Love, Patti Iverson

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