Search
  • Regina Randle

"4 Types of Dysfunctional Family Roles"

"Some families are comprised of roles that can serve a purpose, but also be dysfunctional. The more enmeshed the family member is in the role, the harder it is to separate from the role."


"The key to stepping out of a dysfunctional role is through awareness, acknowledgement, and consciously stepping back from the role."


Read more to learn about the four dysfunctional family roles. Which role (if any) do you play or have you played in the past? Were you successful in stepping out of that role or is it still an ongoing battle?


Let's talk... shall we?

Here are some examples of four dysfunctional family roles:

1. The Hero

On the Outside

The hero, on the outside, is perfect and is always right. This person is an over-achiever and tends to receive a high amount of praise and positive attention.

On the Inside

On the inside, the Hero has an immense fear of failure and letting down the family by not living up to the expectation to be perfect. The Hero oftentimes feels over-controlled and like he or she is not free to make his/her own decisions.

The Dysfunction

The Hero role becomes dysfunctional when it becomes dependent on success. Pressure mounts to always be successful and to be the face of the family. Children heroes are pressured by family to excel in school, take honors classes, pursue higher education, and never to fail.

Achievement-Oriented Heroes

With some help, the Hero can learn assertive skills such as saying “no”. The Hero can learn that it is ok to make mistakes and fail. Instead of being dependent on success, the Hero can become achievement oriented. Achievement oriented individuals understand that some plans may fail first, and to try another plan to achieve goals instead of accepting failure and self-defeating thoughts.


2. The Scapegoat

The Scapegoat is the opposite of the Hero role, and is seen as the problem of the family. The Scapegoat is also referred to as the “black sheep” of the family, and has a hard time fitting in and relating to the other family members. His/her behavior is seen as bad and never good enough. The Scapegoat tends to be more impulsive and angry.

On the Inside

Although the Scapegoat may put up an angry affect to keep others away, on the inside the Scapegoat is filled with shame, hurt, and rejection. The Scapegoat has little motivation to succeed because he or she already feels like a failure and a loser.

The Dysfunction

When paired with a Hero of the family, the Scapegoat can feel as if she or he is a sponge to absorb all of the bad things the Hero cannot handle. For example, the Hero may feel better about him or herself when married to a Scapegoat, because it gives the