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The Definition of Family Dynamics

author image S. Grey
S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.
The Definition of Family Dynamics
Family portrait outdoors. Photo Credit: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Family dynamics are the interaction between family members as well as the varying relationships that can exist within a family. Every family has its own dynamic, which manifests in its own way. Uncovering these relationships can help you better understand your family as well as others', including how families function.

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Core Theory

Family dynamics are one part of a larger system, defined by the individual members' relationships with each other. Families exist as their own structure made of people who share bonds and a sense of history and endeavor to meet each other’s needs. These core qualities set the stage for family dynamics -- without a structure, these dynamics cannot play out. Dynamics are affected by many factors, including the number of children or a family's culture. For example, a family with many children may have rules pertaining to which child does certain chores.

Mapping Dynamics Through Genograms

Genograms are a handy way to discover your family's dynamics. Like a family tree, genograms display the many generations within a family, but take it a step further by including the relationships between family members. You may draw a dotted line to your mother to indicate that you shared a strong bond or a jagged red line to your father to indicate a strained relationship.

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