Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance

#SoCS: Family Roles and Beyond



Hero child, hands folded.

Lost child staring into space.

Scapegoat telling it like it is.

Mascot spewing comic relief.

These are the classic roles in dysfunctional families I learned about in workshops when I started working with families of addiction. In one workshop – one of the first – we were each given a big sheet of paper and told to draw a picture of our family of origin at the dinner table. Not much more instruction than that. Just go for it. Then we were asked (though I’m sure it wasn’t required) to share our drawing in front of the group of about 20 other counselor at the workshop.

I can get flashes of the drawing and remember wearing a striped dress with a belt. I remember hesitating when it came to my mother. I’m sure my dad had USMC somewhere on his visage. I said I didn’t want to be like my mother. I was afraid of being like my mother. Afraid of having nervous breakdowns. I wanted to be strong like my father. Though now I know my mother had a different kind of strength that saved my father. I was the hero child and the lost child combo. My sister was the scapegoat after she was the mascot/clown. Then after she died, I became the scapegoat.

But after all the families I’ve encountered, we weren’t that dysfunctional. We are all learning how to cope with what got to us. And we can all move to different places at the table, or move to a different table of our own choice or creation. We can step out of our assumed roles. The hero can roll in the aisle laughing a belly laugh and dance around the living room. The lost child can become grounded and focused if she chooses to. The clown can learn to cry and be okay. The scapegoat can save the day or save himself.

Or they can embrace their favorite parts of their best roles. The hero can lift herself and others may follow. The lost child creates stellar colors of music. The clown amuses those who need laughter most. The scapegoat cuts through the crap.

Each role, each component, is inside each of us. The child remains within and comes out to play in the warm sunshine. Nurture him. Hold her. Sing to him. Guide her with love. We are survivors. Strong yet fragile. Imperfectly wise. Hungry for healing, each at our own pace. Even if that pace is standing still and breathing air. Sometimes recovery is all about resting on the earth and watching the clouds. Other times, it’s dancing and leaping in faith into an ocean of love or mystery.

Be happy now

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday was roll/role.

To learn more, visit Linda G. Hill at:


Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing (typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. I will post the prompt here on my blog every Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The,’” or will simply be a single word to get you started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours. Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read all of them! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later or go to the previous week by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

28 thoughts on “#SoCS: Family Roles and Beyond

  1. I had planned, though you’re not supposed to plan in SoCS, to share that the workshop facilitator observed that during my presentation I was standing in the military pose of “at ease.” Part of me was unconsciously modeling my father. My mother said I was a lot like him in my early twenties when I didn’t like him much. Funny how that works. I like him now, but he’s only here in spirit. The workshop was about 30 years ago. Anyway, I let the SoC go where it will once I start typing, so this got left on the stream bank.

  2. Just before publishing my SoCS, I saw what you wrote. I love it! Check out mine and you will see we had similar reflections….. I love it when that happens.

  3. The ending quote is especially powerful with the way you wrote this piece.

    • I’m glad you like that, Ka. It just came along in the stream. It can get analytical and the ending quote and photo just pulled me out of that nicely. 🙂

  4. I enjoyed reading your stream of consciousness and appreciate the reminder to nurture that inner child within each of us ❤

  5. A very interesting and thoughtful post JoAnna. I wondered how I would have drawn us if given the same assignment. We always had the same seats around the table but that was quite traditional.
    It rings true when you say that we all learn to cope with what we are given.
    We have different temperaments and dreams, it is how to develop them.


  6. Your SoCS posts are always insightful and thought-provoking. This one is no different.

    You say: “We can step out of our assumed roles.” As the eldest of five children, I was given the responsibility of helping my mother to care for my younger siblings–a role that I did not always embrace since I also had to set a good example for the others. Hero/scapegoat? When I reunited with my family after thirty years, my mother expected me to assume that role, once again. Saying “no” came at a hefty price.

    • I can understand. We are such creatures of habit, especially when those habits started in our early years. Saying no can be especially hard in those cases. I’m sorry about the price of saying no to your mother. I suspect and hope “no” was better than the alternative.

  7. A wonderful SoCS entry. The roles we take on in our families is fascinating, and so much of it carries over into our adult lives…

  8. This was very interesting, JoAnna. To stop and consider the roles we play and have played over time – makes us think. It’s funny, the way our relationship with our parents changes over time. Sometimes, it’s hard to think about that.

    • Yes, it is hard to think about sometimes. I remember when my father – the strongest man I’ve ever known – started to have trouble walking, it was very hard for me to believe on an emotional level. But as his body wore out, I still enjoyed listening to his stories. Take care, Dan.

  9. Such a moving post, JoAnna – love how you closed it with a reminder to take care of the child within us. xx

  10. I obviously connect to this post in many ways. Trying to figure out a decent response to post to you, but for some reason…words are escaping me. But I’m thinking about your words non stop, so I’m sure you have an inkling as to what’s running through my mind. Great post.

    • Thank you, Jami. I understand. It’s complicated. Your post got me thinking a lot more about this, too. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to figure it all out today. 🙂 Trust the timing and take care of you. ❤

  11. What a profound piece of writing JoAnna, I read with interest, coming from a similar dysfunctional family of sorts And I so related to your observations here:
    “Or they can embrace their favorite parts of their best roles. The hero can lift herself and others may follow. The lost child creates stellar colors of music. The clown amuses those who need laughter most. The scapegoat cuts through the crap. ”

    Many thanks for sharing JoAnna, our families at least shaped us to who we are today, And its the NOW of moments like your last picture quote says that matter the most..

    May we make the most of NOW in all we are and in all we do.. ❤

    Love and Blessings to you JoAnna, ❤

    • Thank you, Sue. I appreciate your understanding and positive feedback. Our families shaped the good parts of us too. My parents were wonderful people and deeply spiritual for which I am thankful. We’re all such a mix of wonder, wounds, and grace. Healing and trying to find our way. Peace, Blessings, and much Love, Sue. ❤

  12. I loved the image with the little girl. You’re an inspiration!

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