Angela\'s Ashes
Both books that Iíve read, Angelaís Ashes and The Color of Water both
demonstrated behavior than can be considered dysfunctional. A dysfunctional
family is one that fails to meet some or all the basic needs of its members.

Sometimes these needs, such as food, shelter or clothing are so basic that
people take them for granted. More often, emotional needs, such as the need for
love, support and security go unmet. Although a family can be dysfunctional in
several ways there are some characteristics that occur more often than others.

Drugs, alcoholism, death, abandonment, starvation and anxiety are some examples
of dysfunctional characteristics that can be found in both Angelaís Ashes and

The Color of Water. Just because a family is dysfunctional does not mean itís
members do not love each other. Dysfunction usually results from a large amount
of problems in the lives of the parents. Parents usually do the best that they
can with their children but the truth is that theyíre human too and canít
always manage the difficult task of parenting if they are overwhelmed by their
own troubles. It could be that their parenting skills have been impaired by
mental or physical illness or simply by ignorance. Also, many parents of
dysfunctional families grew up in unhealthy or abusive families themselves and
donít know how to break the mold. It may be hard for a person in a
dysfunctional family to believe or understand it, but the truth is that poor
parenting is rarely intentional. The result of dysfunction vary from the type of
dysfunction the family endures. Iíve heard of people becoming abusive,
alcoholics, drug abusers, or runaways. Some people are too weak to cope with the
situations in their home, so they flee and start new lives which usually end up
becoming dysfunctional again. Dysfunction rubs off on children. Because children
are so vulnerable they look at their parents as role models. Children usually
end up having no sense of their own reality; therefor no sense of self. The
cannot deal properly with their own feelings because they have been taught to
deny those feelings. they canít value their needs realistically because their
needs have always come second to the needs of the family, which were to stop
anything from changing in order to ward off abandonment. In The Color of Water
the stepfather dies creating an unhealthy and new environment for the family. As
the mother is now forced to raise her twelve children alone, she is forced to
take on even more responsibility. Rachel Shilsky never before had a job. She was
struggling to make ends meet. Playing games with her children to determine who
was going to eat dinner and breakfast that day. The winners would eat and the
losers would suffer because the family was living in poverty, not to say that
poverty is a dysfunction, but the dysfunction develops as a reaction to the
consequences that the family has to face. Many wealthy people can become
dysfunctional. Rachel places five children in two beds. Most of the time the
kids were so uncomfortable that they chose to rather sleep on the cold cement
floor of their Red Hook, Brooklyn housing project. The kids never realized that
they were living a different life than other kids until they are sent to school
and James, the youngest of twelve children asks his mother why she doesnít
look like the other childrenís momís. Not only are they living in different
atmospheres enduring situations that most kids didnít have to endure, but
their mother was white, the kids were mixed and the people in their neighborhood
were all black. Their family were outcasts. James and his siblings learned to
deal with the color of their skin, the death of loved ones, the poverty and the
fact that they didnít know where they came from. The children often thought
about where their mother was from. " We traded information on Mommy the way
people traded baseball cards at trade shows, offering bits and pieces of
information fraught with gossip, nonsense, wisdom and sometimes just plain
foolishness". "What does it matter to you anyway?" my older brother Richie
scoffed when I asked him if we had any grandparents, "Youíre adopted
anyway." This shows how the children dealt with realities that they had no
control over. Another time the kids would joke around with James telling him
that Rachel wasnít his real mom, but his real mom was in jail. They would
tease him until he seriously began to think about it. The only good thing that
comes out of dysfunction is