Toxic Family Dynamics

It may be surprising to discover that a majority of Survivors suffered at the hands of someone they knew, often right under their roof. As a result, the abuse often lasted for an extended period of time, sometimes for years. And, that forms the basis of very pronounced emotional, psychological, relational, and spiritual difficulties, as their world became carefully controlled in so many subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
Without realizing it, many of those survivors adapted to the abuse, and the highly toxic dynamics within the family, which were created for the benefit of the abuser, who we refer  to as "the Black Hole person."  This is the person who subtly or overtly controlled everything and everyone, in order to ensure (1) they benefitted, (2) they retained control, and (3) they never allowed truth to bring clarity to the carefully crafted  world of distortion and deception.
 
Even for those who were not sexually abused, similar dynamics are inevitably created by sophisticated adults who intend to manipulate those around them, especially the kids, toward their own benefit.
 
The following are provided to help the Survivor see that the "crazy-making" was not in their imagination.  

Toxic Dynamics

 
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Thou Shalt NOT Honor a 

Toxic Parent

Sadly, there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the issue of what it means to honor one's parents. The Biblical command, stemming back to the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16), was a directive by the Lord to children of well-meaning and reasonable parents.  Those children are to act toward their parents in ways that show them respect, which is something that comes quite naturally.  However, should a parent elect to act in a consistently dishonoring or abusive way, they have removed themselves from being deemed worthy of honor. 
 
It was clear to God's people that a true parent was one who acted with the children's best interests in mind. However, if a parent became a consistent source of evil  (abusive, foul, and/or an irreparably negative influence within the home), they were deemed to  have removed themselves from any position of honor (Joshua 7:25-26; 2 Kings 9:22, 11:1). In such cases, it was not only unwise to show honor to such dishonorable parents, but it actually distorted reality, sanctioned oppression, and compromised truth.  
Jesus pulled no punches when it came to pointing out how selfish pigs are to be dealt with, and the kinds of boundaries to be implemented.  In Matthew 7:6, Jesus reminds His listeners that they are not to cast their pearls before pigs. That is a command to ensure that we do not take what is valuable in terms of our time, efforts, energies, and resources, and give them to those who are blackholes, those who will not only NOT value you and the things you offer (your pearls), but they will actually demean them, and then turn on you in very hurtful, disrespectful, and harmful ways.  Modern Psychology has referred to this as enabling, the dynamic that permits and makes allowance for a selfish, hurtful, and harmful person to continue perpetrating against others. 
Still, some religious circles will attempt to assert that we should love any parent despite their "idiosyncrasies and foibles", as they really don't know what they are doing.  Sadly, it is exactly that degree of refusal to clearly look at reality and the extent of the swine's hurtfulness and damage that allows him/her to continue harming others without them experiencing any natural or logical consequences.  
 
The Apostle Paul also addressed the topic of swines, when he addressed a church congregation in ancient Corinth, which was tolerating a black hole person, all in the name of love.  In 2 Corinthians 11: 19-20, he addressed these pseudo-spiritual churchgoers, by letting them know that their tolerance of a fool (another Biblical term used for a swine) was the exact opposite of what they should have been doing.  Instead of treating that person with forbearance and patience, they should have removed him from their midst.  Even though the fool might have been someone's parent, they were not to have been honored, but instead, shown the door.
In dealing with toxic parents and family members, there are some who would mistakenly advocate that we are to show honor to those in authority. But, that Biblical directive would pertain to national leaders, employers, and sometimes slave owners... not to children of parents, unless one feels that parents should be granted permission to act in any disrespectful or harmful way they please with impunity, and even act like a cult leader, a dictator, a harsh boss, and/or a slave master. No, that is not who a parent is, and not how a true parent, who worthy of the title and the honor that goes with it, would ever presume to act. A genuine parent does not intentionally discourages or embitters his/her children. And, it should be remembered that Scripture is abundantly clear that anyone living under the yoke of oppression were encouraged to leave when the opportunity presented itself, and never return or even look back.
 
It is the confusion with this issue that has sadly resulted in many adult children placing themselves in a position of being abused, as well as jeopardizing the welfare of their children.  Suffice it to say, if a person morphs into a black hole (swine), they are no longer worthy of honor. They are simply in need of having clear boundaries implemented against them... before they can do any further damage. 
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The following is a good overview of the toxic dynamics of a blackhole parent. Though not necessarily ascribing to a Christian perspective in his other writings, this article highlights important characteristics which should be understood by the Survivor.
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The Difficulty Breaking Free

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The following story highlights the parallel between toxic family dynamics and toxic church dynamics.  Normally, when you think of family and church, you would think of places that are safe, supportive, and encouraging. However, many families and churches are far from that. They look great to the unsuspecting world, yet are run and controlled by very toxic people, who control others through understood rules, thus keep compliant members emotionally and spiritually captive through false teaching and beliefs. Those toxic authority figures within such unscriptural churches and families operate in ways which are anything but reasonable, healthy, or godly.  Instead of being a place where truth prevails, they substitute a distorted form of the truth, which allows them to masquerade their domination, control, and subjugation under the guise of God-ordained "authority and leadership".  And, nothing could be further from God's heart for either of these two divinely designed institutions. 

As a result, when a Survivor finally makes a break from one, they may very likely find their role and acceptance in the other is impacted as well, especially if the entire family attends the church, and has become viewed as a "pillar" within the church.  In such cases, when breaking free from toxic situations, the Survivor must be prepared to find that they must face the loss of both. The author describes the pain involved in such a decision, as shunning is often employed in an unbiblical fashion, in order to control the Survivor in cult-like fashion. 

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Generational Dysfunction

One characteristic that can prove to be most difficult to identify for those raised in the midst of such a family, is the parent who creates an image of either being perfect, or is a celebrity, or has a parent who has become a sex symbol.
Such parent-child relationships, while they can look so polished to the outside world, can actually be very toxic and/or emotionally challenging for the children growing up in the shadow of such a parent, or having to deal with the knowledge that others are viewing your own parents in very sexualized ways. 
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