It was five o’clock at the Martin house. All of a sudden Mrs. Martin noticed the time.
“Quick, kids. Your dad will be home soon. We have to pick everything up – now.”
The urgency in her voice was unmistakable. If the house didn’t look near perfect when her husband got home she knew they would likely have a bad evening.
This is just one example of an unsafe home. Over the years I have heard many tragic stories of how the atmosphere at home was anything but welcoming and warm. Sometimes the home was downright dangerous.
What makes a home safe?
- Peacefulness and calmness
- Predictable positive routines
- Reasonable standards of cleanliness and tidiness
- Patience with each other, even when we are frustrated
What makes a home unsafe?
- Violence – physical or emotional
- Yelling, screaming, blaming or guilt-producing language
- Addictions – alcohol, drugs, hoarding. These behaviors usually produce chaos
- Unrealistic expectations of performance
I find that the root cause in many of my clients dealing with anxiety can be traced to the environment of the home in which they grew up. Critical, violent, unpredictable or anxious parents create anxious kids, who become anxious adults. Often these behaviors are passed down generation to generation with disastrous consequences.
What can you do?
If you are an adult living in an unsafe home you must confront it, probably not by yourself. It takes a lot of effort to break old patterns and make significant positive changes. Depending on the situation the resistance may be intense.
If you are the cause of the problem, breaking denial is the first step. You will most likely have to confront the hurts of your past. You will need to examine maladaptive behaviors (coping mechanisms) that are a part of your current life. You may need to deal with entrenched addictions.
What are the benefits?
- Emotional health for you and your family
- A safe haven from the troubled world
- Growth towards spiritual wholeness, and obedience to God
Do you relate? Please comment on your current or past situation.