Bradshaw on the Family
Based on the public television series of the same name, Bradshaw On: The Family is John Bradshaw's seminal work on the dynamics of families that has sold more than a million copies since its original publication in 1988. Within its pages, you will discover the cause of emotionally impaired families. You will learn how unhealthy rules of behavior are passed down from parents to children, and the destructive effect this process has on our society.
Using the latest family research and recovery material in this new edition, Bradshaw also explores the individual in both a family and societal setting. He shows you ways to escape the tyranny of family-reinforced behavior traps--from addiction and co-dependency to loss of will and denial--and demonstrates how to make conscious choices that will transform your life and the lives of your loved ones. He helps you heal yourself and then, using what you have learned helps you heal your family.
Finally, Bradshaw extends this idea to our society: by returning yourself and your family to emotional health, you can heal the world in which you live. He helps you reenvision societal conflicts from the perspective of a global family, and shares with you the power of deep democracy: how the choices you make every day can affect--and improve--your world.
Can you Relate?
Did you grow up with a parent that was emotionally distant or unavailable? Was someone in your family an addict or an alcoholic? Were you taught to repress or ignore your emotions? Did your family have rigid rules with dire consequences if broken? Were you discouraged from sharing what happened at home with others? Did you find yourself having to manage the emotions of one of your parents as a kid?
Bradshaw on the Family aligns with the Core area of focus of the Evimero Couple Framework. It sheds light on the impact of growing up in an emotionally impaired family and how that damages our self-esteem in adulthood.
Tools for Growth
A book like Bradshaw on the Family can significantly impact a person’s life. For those of us who grew up in emotionally impaired families, one of the biggest struggles we have is realizing how unhealthy our family system was. We all find specific roles to play in order to keep the family structure in place. And it isn’t until you find enough distance away from that family structure that you see it for what it is - unhealthy. And that can be an eye-opening and harrowing experience.
If you are beginning to take steps to uncover that reality for your family, this book is one of the best resources out there. Yet we recommend you not go on this journey alone. Find a good counselor or 12-step program that can help you process what you will read in this book. This is the type of work you need to do with someone. If your partner grew up in a healthy family system or already did the job of healing from an unhealthy family system, they can be an excellent resource. Just know reading a book like this can open up a lot of wounds and shed light on many things you thought were normal, only to realize they weren’t.
With that said, Bradshaw on the Family is an excellent resource to help you heal from unhealthy family structures that may be impacting your self-esteem. The book will help you understand the type of family you grew up in - a “functioning family system” or a “chronically dysfunctioning family system.” There are several checklists in each chapter that will help you identify the reality of your family structure. These checklists create the opportunity to reflect and see things for what they really were. But outside of these checklists, there isn’t much in the form of tools to help you grow. The book is very informational without a lot of application. This is why having someone to help you process this information is critical.
If you find your partner is going through this process for the first time, we encourage you to be patient with them. Doing this type of work with your family of origin can create a lot of change for the positive. But things often get worse before they get better. The pain of this journey can cause people to withdraw from their partner as they begin to question who they are. This can be difficult for any partner. Continue to encourage your partner and create space for them to process with you. Doing this can generate opportunities for connection in ways you may have never experienced.
Worth your Time?
As we move from childhood to adulthood, one of the most challenging things we have to face is that our parents were not the superheroes we thought they were. If they were the cause of dysfunction in your family, that can be gut-wrenching. So much so that we can avoid uncovering this reality. If that is where you are at, we commend you. When the time is right, you will know it.
For those that are ready to begin this journey, and want to create a better understanding of what healthy and unhealthy family structures look like, Bradshaw on the Family is an excellent starting point. The steps are difficult, and there may be days when you can’t unpeel another layer of the onion. But if you stick with it, the healing on the other side is one of the most liberating things you can ever experience. If you are ready, then this book is for you. We applaud your courage to break generational curses.