I came across this article about dsyfunctional families and learned about the various roles within. It was easy for me to determine which role accurately described each one of my stepsons; and eerie how accurate the descriptions are! Evan is the “scapegoat” and Ethan is the “adjuster.”
“Acting out child” – “Scapegoat”
This is the child that the family feels ashamed of – and the most emotionally honest child in the family. He/she acts out the tension and anger the family ignores. This child provides distraction from the real issues in the family. The scapegoat usually has trouble in school because they get attention the only way they know how – which is negatively. They often become pregnant or addicted as teenagers. These children are usually the most sensitive and caring which is why they feel such tremendous hurt. They are romantics who become very cynical and distrustful. They have a lot of self-hatred and can be very self-destructive. This often results in this child becoming the first person in the family to get into some kind of recovery.
“Adjuster” – “Lost Child”
This child escapes by attempting to be invisible. They daydream, fantasize, read a lot of books or watch a lot of TV. They deal with reality by withdrawing from it. They deny that they have any feelings and “don’t bother getting upset.” These children grow up to be adults who find themselves unable to feel and suffer very low self-esteem. They are terrified of intimacy and often have relationship phobia. They are very withdrawn and shy and become socially isolated because that is the only way they know to be safe from being hurt. A lot of actors and writers are ‘lost children’ who have found a way to express emotions while hiding behind their characters.