3 ways to know if you are part of an “explosive” family.

3 ways to know if you are part of an “explosive” family.

3 ways to know if you are part of an “explosive” family.

A mother who yells at her children to be heard, an “adorable” teenager who slams the door, a younger brother who is called an “idiot” by his older sister … The daily life of a “normal” family? “There is a lot of theory about ‘problem homes’, where incest, child abuse or early school leaving are widespread, notes Lee-Ann d’Alexandry, a clinical psychologist specializing in family therapy and Ericksonian hypnosis, who publishes theExplosive families to Payot Psy. And few of the families in which there is love, attention and a real desire to share convivial moments, but which are gradually suffering due to a relational climate that has become tense. However, there is a real danger in trivializing this aggression. “

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The pressure cooker effect

Géraldyne, 45, a mother of three teenagers, acknowledges this: “I no longer count how many times I found myself alone at the table, over a cold meal, after a“ simple ”comment addressed to one of my children. Everyone gets involved and goes around! ““As in a drip system, these small peaks of aggression (verbal or gestural provocation, teasing, condescending gaze, sigh) accumulate in a latent way and end up creating a climate of emotional insecurity.observes the psychologist. A nothing can then ignite the dust. One fine day, we realize that it’s not normal to talk so badly. “ A common sense of guilt follows and a sincere desire to “find oneself”. “After every big fight, we fall into each other’s arms promising it won’t happen again, explains Lydia, mother of Juliette, 15 years old. And off we go! “

No wonder Lee-Ann d’Alexandry, who in her book clearly describes the four phases, which follow one another and repeat themselves, of the cycle of “explosiveness” in the family: a climate of widespread tension that feeds the nervousness of each ; the explosion or the “flash of lead”; the justification of misconduct (“Oh! You know, this happens in all families”); and the phase of reconciliation. “After the conflict, the family will experience a period of calm, most of the time hiding problems under the rug, warns the expert. The widespread tension then risks inviting each other again, and off we go! “

Risk factors

Some families are more likely than others to “slip”. “In most cases, the explosive issue is at the level of the parents and affects the siblings, reports the psychologist. An angry, touchy or impulsive personality can be enough to degrade the family atmosphere by putting everyone under pressure. Just like fatigue, stress, educational disagreements, resentment or poor communication in the couple. As children grow up, children are likely to integrate and reproduce a relational model based on aggression: attack and counterattack. “ This is the case of Olivier, 65, who prefers to speak of a “passionate relationship” with the mother of his children: “My parents didn’t get along and stayed together ‘for the kids’. I had the courage to divorce “because of the children”. The collapsing bowls in the kitchen and the reconciliations on the pillow, it’s only fun in the cinema! “

Chronic anxiety, which can be passed on to children, is capable of causing sparks. “My anxiety prompts me to imagine all kinds of catastrophic scenarios that annoy my daughter and make her climb towers, admits Nathalie, Louise’s solo mother, 15. It’s only if, when you light a cigarette, I don’t already see her suffering from lung cancer as an adult. Instead of reassuring me by promising to reduce consumption or stop it, she provokes me: “It’s because you are stressing me that I smoke!” So, the tone rises. ”

“In fusional families, it would seem that the presence of chronic anxiety, often rooted in the parent’s family of origin, offers a privileged terrain of explosiveness, which can be triggered by the appearance of further stress, impossible to control, observes LeeAnn from Alexandry. It has been shown that the less differentiated family members are, the more they will be affected by external dangers and will find it difficult to maintain their peace of mind. “

When children toast

It is not easy, however, to recognize that the family climate is deteriorating. A bankruptcy filing for parents who always want the best for their children. “To protect itself, the family system risks putting in place defense mechanisms and coping strategies that can lead to great suffering, explains the psychologist as physical symptoms.Children are particularly vulnerable to family tensions. Driven by a desire for reparation, they can therefore assume the function of confidant, referee, perfect student, so as not to let any wave, or “distracting” distract the attention of the parents, talking a lot, biting tantrums, having tics. Some go so far as to develop obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a state of depression or a school phobia. They are called “designated patients”, carriers of the symptom. “

Fortunately, there is no need to come to the drama or separation. Alexandry’s Lee-Ann assures us: “The family has an incredible ability to shelter. Sometimes it is enough for the child to consult – and stop playing a role that does not belong to him – to quickly make changes in the family. But when aggression becomes chronic and everyday life too complicated, it is the whole group that needs outside help to activate their resources. And believe me, when children’s welfare is at stake, parents always answer the call! “

The “toolbox” for difficult times *

As soon as there is electricity in the air To avoid arm wrestling and gain complicity, draw up family contracts in writing within a week. Sitting around a table and establishing rules together, for everyone: “Daddy doesn’t have to swear”; “Mum doesn’t have to open her computer at night”; “Tom can play thirty minutes, not more, on the console”… It’s a points system: to win a collective prize at the end of the week (going out to a restaurant…) a certain cumulative score is required.
In case of “out of your mind” Establish safeguards that will act as a wild card in the event of a crisis: change room, go for a walk, drink a glass of water, allow the youngest to hit very hard an “anger pad” by uttering swear words or install a real punch bag in the bedroom of the teenager, make a “book of rants” available to everyone … Also be careful not to argue with a child when he is out of his mind: rather ask him, in advance, what consoles him: hug him (for the little ), quiet moments in front of a screen (for teenagers).
Instead of justifying yourself later Present genuine excuses, without the “but”: “Sorry”, “I will not do it again” … Identify the triggers of the crisis to automate some good reflexes: make yourself a sealed chamber before going home if you are tired it accumulates, wait until the anger has subsided to argue and use “I” instead of “you” in case of accusation … When calm returned Rather than trying to forget the crisis, try to repair the bond in depth thanks to the “positive shower”: gather the whole family in one room and share, in turn, what you value in each one, taking care never to slip into the negative. The more behavior-focused the compliment, the more constructive it will be.

* Exercises proposed, during the consultations, by Lee-Ann d’Alexandry and detailed in her book Explosive familiesPsychic Payot.

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