Saturday, December 10, 2011

Safe At Home

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.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I can relate. I'm trying to create my adult home to be a place of rest and peace. I didn't always have that growing up. There was a lot of tension about keeping thing neat and organized and not making my mom mad. I was constantly concerned about that. I want my place to be a home where people can feel welcome to be themselves but I also want to be able to set boundaries with my own space so that I can either let people in or decide that I want the place to myself. Home as a safe haven is huge. This year has been about creating a home like that for me. I'm not done yet, but it's coming along slowly.