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Understanding the Family Script


Every family has a collection of rules and regulations that guide how it operates.  Some of these rules are overtly stated, but most are unspoken.  This is known as The Family Script.  Many of these rules are helpful, such as “Always tell the truth,” “Respect your elders,” “Work hard in school,” and “Develop strong faith in God.”  However, some rules can be harmful.  Dr. Mark Laaser identifies five rules that can fuel addictions:

  1. Don’t Talk:  This rule is often overtly stated and is often enforced with shame.  Children hear phrases such as “we don’t talk that way in this family” or “that’s a terrible way to talk.”  It can also be enforced by purposely avoiding serious topics, such as sex, sadness, fear, depression, etc.  Children in these families often feel disconnected and isolates.  They are not free to talk of deep matters of the heart, serious issues, feelings or even about God.
  2. Don’t Feel:  This rule is often modeled by parents.  Some may only show certain emotions, such as anger, frustration or disappointment.   Other emotions, such as joy, happiness, grief, excitement or approval are kept at bay.  Children learn that certain feelings are unacceptable and should never be expressed.  This can result in children believing it’s wrong to express any feelings at all.
  3. Minimize: Children in this environment learn that whatever is going on in their lives is unimportant.  When expressing any problems children may hear phrases such as, “You shouldn’t complain” or “Others have are far worse off than you.”  Even good things can be minimized.  A child who brings home A’s on his report card may be dismissed by his parents simply because “good grades are always expected.”  In this environment, children learn that their thoughts, feelings, problems and achievements are insignificant.
  4. Deny: This is the ultimate form of minimizing.  Anything good or bad in a child’s life is completely ignored.  Problems are swept under the rug and achievements are dismissed.  Children learn not to share anything with anyone to avoid pain.
  5. Blame: parents who refuse to take responsibility for any mistakes or poor choices they have made model this.  Whenever something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault.  A parent may even blame others for something that is their child’s fault.  The result is that children never learn responsibility.

The result of living with such rules is that children often feel dismissed.  They come to believe that their thoughts and feelings, and ultimately they, are unimportant.  This can result in feeling lonely, unaffirmed and unloved.   These wounds can be carried throughout life.  To cope with them, many men turn to pornography.  Think about the rules I listed above.  If your family lived by any of them, seek the Lord’s healing.  What’s most important is realizing that you’re not stuck with these rules.  You can change them!  You can change the Family Script!  You can decide to live your life by healthier rules.   Changing the rules can help decrease the need to turn to pornography to ease emotional pain.  If this process seems too difficult for you, a professional counselor can help.  Freedom is possible!