Recruiting Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families

Written by Raisinberry

Over the years as I have contributed here at Pink Truth, I started noticing that there were largely two groups of Mary Kay victims. Individuals have their distinct stories, but throughout the majority of anti-Mary Kay sentiment, there emerged a distinct line between those who stayed in, believing the best and being able to function without results and those who were able to figure it out pretty quick, trusting their gut, enabling them to cut losses.

As I have listened to so many women who were hurt by Mary Kay, a common denominator seemed to emerge. Many questioned how did I fall for this? Why did I stay doing it while I hurt myself and my own family? When I knew things didn’t add up, why did I pretend that they did? Why did I stay silent just because it was assumed we wouldn’t share “negative” things?

These questions and more brought me back to the counseling I received early in my twenties, concerning the effects of being raised in an alcoholic home. I am convinced that Mary Kay and other MLMs use the same dynamics. They capitalize on the poor decision making, coping skills, denial, and rationalizing behaviors of those of us who may have crawled out from under the dysfunctional rock, never having truly healed the wounds.

There are millions upon millions of Americans who have been exposed to alcoholism. That makes for quite a lot of children affected by the behavior of both the active alcoholic and the enabling spouse. Studies show that adult children, as much as they might never wish to duplicate their family environment, often grow up to marry an alcoholic or become one themselves… eventually producing even more adult children of alcoholics.

But lest you think you didn’t have alcoholism in your home, so this wouldn’t apply to you, the research shows that addictive personality disorders and other various dysfunctional behaviors stem from a variety of “isms”. Workaholism, rageaholics, controlaholics, religio-holics, dry drunks, even those who have a family member who consumes the attention of the family because of illness, create the conditions whereby the children in these environments grow up with certain behavior (coping strategies) and self esteem issues.

Suddenly it struck me that Mary Kay herself, was an “adult child,” since her father’s illness commanded all the attention, and her mother wasn’t there. It is easy to see this was born out of necessity, yet what isn’t so easy to see is what it produces in other family members.

Mary Kay Ash lived on morsels of attention, and a “you can do it,” instead of a present, participating active set of parents that put her needs at least, equal to their own. It is said that one of the biggest heart aches of Adult Children is to “matter”.  Somebody else in their home always takes center stage, with inconsistency, drama, and out of control situations.

So where does that connect with the systems and functioning of Mary Kay Cosmetics? Mary Kay is nearly identical to living in an alcoholic/ dysfunctional home. One of the key components is not being able to talk about what is going on. Children living in these dysfunctions do not talk about what is happening. Its embarrassing and can get you in trouble with the “active” drunk as well be denied by the enabler.

Adult children:

  • Get comfortable being told lies and shutting down their own assessments. They learn to doubt what they see.
  • Get comfortable with blame shifting and accepting responsibility for the behavior of others. They think to themselves, if only I could be better, I could stop Dad from drinking.
  • Readily accept blame for poor results. When the alcoholic makes a mess, the Adult Child “fixes” it to avoid confrontation and reality. The Adult child will do whatever is necessary to make the conditions appear normal. They have no problem “faking it till they make it”.

It is no wonder then, that MLMs prosper because of the sheer numbers of people who were raised in dysfunctional families.

Children of these scenarios respond on cue to the predatorial and self serving manipulation of pyramids because they feel very familiar functioning in denial.

Name a bigger “elephant in the living room” that the hundreds of thousands of independent beauty consultants, buried in debt, funding Mary Kay on their credit cards, pretending Mary Kay is wonderful until they are sent adrift when their credit lines maxed. Yet every director I know never speaks of the former offspring and DIQs and on targets in their units that they know have tens of thousands of dollars of unsold inventory, purchased largely on the director’s encouragement. Pretending it is alright is key to functioning In Mary Kay.

This topic is obviously more complex than a short article can cover, but it may give direction to some of our more wounded members as to why they may have denied for far too long, what they were actually experiencing.

  • Dysfunctional homes are ones which tell you something is one way, while living another. (Everyone is making great living selling cosmetics…aren’t you?)
  • Dysfunctional homes blame shift. (You aren’t making money? Why aren’t you holding more classes?)
  • Dysfunctional homes are shame filled and embarrassing (Don’t tell anyone you can’t afford to go! They won’t want the position!)
  • Dysfunctional homes have big secrets (I paid for all these kits and have to lie about why these women never attend meetings or participate)

In dysfunctional homes, the acting out one gets all the attention while the others needs go unmet. And so the children of dysfunction are used to functioning within this abusive and lopsided environment, perfectly able to pretend and play the game and do whatever they need to to cope.

Starved for attention and battling low self esteem, they are perfect victims for the entire MLM industry, which gains its greatest financial progress on their unresolved wounds. To the degree that this dynamic may be in all our lives, those who are deeply wounded and perhaps have not seen the correlations between these behaviors and growing up in tough situations, stay in these environments finally believing that they have a place, acceptance and recognition. A childhood gnawing pain is temporarily satisfied in all the hugs and love and praise… this scenario becomes hard to walk away from, and it is utterly impossible to believe, that it is as abusive as the childhood that crushed them.

Denial and a placating style worked for me as a kid. As a grown woman, it produced disastrous results. I now recognize that Mary Kay’s sales leadership loves those who need attention and respond to the “pump ups” because they will “stretch” to help the team, to their own detriment, just to avoid ever feeling again what it is like to be kicked to the curb.

For some of us, Mary Kay fits the bill perfectly. If that’s you, it is time to shed the abuses and beliefs of the past, and step away from any environment that duplicates that, into the truth and the light of a new dawn. Mary Kay capitalized on our wounds; they made a lot of money at our expense. We stayed because we believed a deep need would be filled, so we pretended, just like we did as children, that this wasn’t as bad as it was. But it was bad. They took advantage, and told us lies. They simply do not deserve one more breath. And you deserve a new start.

2 Comments

  1. nomoremlm4me

    “Mary Kay capitalized on our wounds; they made a lot of money at our expense. We stayed because we believed a deep need would be filled, so we pretended, just like we did as children, that this wasn’t as bad as it was. But it was bad. They took advantage, and told us lies. They simply do not deserve one more breath. And you deserve a new start.”

    ^^^This^^^ I lived it as a child, and was susceptible to MLM’s because of it. I’m so very glad for this site and the insight it provides. Keep up the good work!

  2. cindylu

    Worst are the Narcissist Directors and NSD’s who control and ruin their own families. My former SD and our NSD were two cold selfish women. Sadly I trusted the co-worker who recruited me. However, I should have trusted the alarm bells I felt about these two thoughtless women. We can categorize MK herself as being insensitive. Even if you are hospitalized, giving birth or someone is dying in your family the MK show must go on. My SD punished us by not sitting with us at seminar, convincing us to buy products that would soon be obsolete, sabotaging at least two DIQ attempts of two women (So she could steal their customers and recruits). My NSD was a cold hearted woman who happened to join MK in 1972. She lost her units and pink cars several times before she bulldozed her way through the USA, Canada and Mexico. Heck as one of the ground floor mlm cult members even she initially failed until she lied her way to the top. To be an NSD in MK you have to be cold and uncaring. It’s just a numbers game. I can’t imagine the dynamics of the mommy dearest NSD and her golden daughter director/NSD Yuck. I pity all other family members or anyone coming within three feet of these greedy Directors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *