Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Botkins on What it Means to Be a Helpmeet


Note: After receiving criticism on the topic, the Botkin daughters reportedly removed the word "helpmeet" from their blog with no notation or other explanation regarding the revision. "Spunky" (aka Karen Braun) discussed this online. The quote noted below mentions this as well.

From "What Exactly is a Helpmeet"
by Anne on the Whitewashed Feminists site:


.....My husband may have a dream or a vision for our family. And certainly I am helping him to further that dream or vision. That may even be part of what it means for me to be his helper. But I hardly think that’s all of it. If being a helper or helpmeet is all wrapped up in helping someone achieve their goals or vision, than why did the Botkin girls change their stance on that and remove the word from their writings? I mean, if that’s what it is, then they are in fact, teaching girls to be helpmeet’s for their fathers.

I’ve seen it written many places that one of the reasons that women shouldn’t be working outside the home is because it makes them helpmeets to other men. I find that really interesting. If being a helpmeet to your husband can be compared to being an employee, then it would seem that the militant feminists may be right about something. Some of the more militant feminists argue that marriage is a form of institutionalized prostitution. I have never agreed with that in the slightest. But, if being a man’s helpmeet means being his employee, doing his will, and being open for sex in exchange for food, lodging and protection, maybe it is! What a horrible view of marriage!......


Read the whole post HERE.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

The Enmeshed Family

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From pages 85 - 87:

The Enmeshed Family

Enmeshed families are characterized by an extreme sense of closeness, so much so that almost any expression of independence or separateness is seen as disloyalty to the family. This kind of false loyalty is a very high value in an Enmeshed family.

Take Marti as an example. She expressed a great deal of hostility toward her mother. But then she was overwhelmed with guilt at her “disloyalty.” How could she speak of her own mother that way?

Marti had very few friends growing up. Her mother dominated her use of time and energy. Marti felt obligated to check everything she did with her mother, to run all her plans and ideas past her for approval before proceeding. Even after she grew up and got married, Marti felt compelled to seek her mother’s approval for decisions she was making about her family. On one hand, Marti greatly resented this state of affairs; she knew it was a way for her mother to keep her under her thumb. But the thought of breaking free from her mother terrified Marti...

Where does one person’s business, one person’s identity, one person’s life, end – and another’s begin? Within the Enmeshed family, boundaries are virtually non-existent. Everyone experiences his life as almost totally “overlapping” with everyone else’s.

Interestingly though, Enmeshed families tend to have remarkably rigid boundaries vis-`a-vis anyone outside the family. Marti said her mother never tired of warning everyone that “family business was family business” never to be discussed with outsiders.

Enmeshed families can look attractive and inviting from the outside. Take George’s family, for example. George had built a successful bakery business in his town. His three grown sons were all very active in the business. Together, George and his sons had established a virtual monopoly on the baking business in their area. They had also established a virtually monopoly on one another’s lives.

Consider Tim, the oldest son, who wanted to get married. He was almost thirty years old, and had cancelled three previous engagements because his family did not think the girl would “fit in.” Finally he found a girl that everyone approved of. She was quiet and docile, and came from a family in which people were aloof and uncaring. “I finally found a real family.” she would say, and Tim’s parents and brother would smile contentedly.

In time, Tim’s two brothers also married. As tieh Tim, their wives came from highly detatched, uninvolved families. Each was quickly absorbed int their new clan and into the bakery business. This is a classic example of a moderately enmeshed family – not quite suffocating enough to cause the kinds of discomfort that Marti experienced, but enough to blur the individual members into what one family researcher calls an “undifferentiated ego mass.” (Quote sites Murray Bowen!)


From pages 89 - 90:

The Attached Family

While the Enmeshed family feels suffocating, and the Disengaged family leaves the individual feeling isolated, the Attached family strikes a healthy balance. There is a sense of individuality without a loss of connectedness. People in an Attached family enjoy being together and doing things together, but are able to relate to people and be active outside of the family as well. When they are away from the family, they do not feel guilty or disloyal. They are able to share outside experiences with the family, knowing other family members will understand and accept their choices.

In the Attached family there is a mutual respect that allows freedom of activity, without any hidden agendas that trigger guilt. There is support for individual uniqueness, coupled with shared appreciation for one another’s accomplishments. Like all delicate balances, it is difficult to find and maintain, but it is well worth the effort.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Formulaic Thinking


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 54 - 57:

Donna was trapped in linear thinking. She figured that the way to move Fred in a certain direction was to give him a shove in that direction. If he did not move, then she simply needed to shove harder. What she did not realize was that Fred was shoving back. Every time she pushed him, he resisted. And the harder she pushed, the more stubbornly he resisted.

We pointed out to Donna that her experience reflected a basic reality of linear thinking; that trying harder only gets you more of the same result. We began to look at her relationship with Fred, not just in isolation but as part of a broader family system. She began to grasp that action “A” does not necessarily produce result “B” – that there might be a host of other factors to take into consideration...

By this point Donna could see that her efforts to “help” Fred become more sociable only provoked this well-practiced response, and that “trying harder to help him” was only going to generate more of the same. This realization came as a tremendous relief. If she wasn’t the cause of Fred’s problem, and if she couldn’t “fix” him by working on him, then she felt released to explore some of her own interests.

Interestingly enough, the minute Donna stopped “working on” Fred and began pursuing things she simply liked to do, Fred began to respond. Her nagging kept his reclusiveness in place. Now that she had given up the role of Family Nag, he seemed free to give up the role of Family Hermit. When he saw her doing things she wanted to do, without putting any pressure on him to join in, he started – very tentatively – to come out of hiding...

The value of seeing things this way is that it makes clear that either party can change the situation by changing his or her own behavior. Before, Donna thought nothing could change in her marriage until Fred decided to be different. But she discovered that she could impact their relationship positively by taking certain actions herself...

The case of Donna and Fred is a fairly simplistic one. It involves only two people, and it has a quick, happy ending. Most family systems are far more complex and unpredictable, and the outcomes are not usually so tidy. Still, the story of Donna and Fred really did happen, and the reason it happened the way it did is because Donna learned to see her situation as one component of a system. She learned how to think in interactive terms rather than in straight lines.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)
. .

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Intergenerational Enmeshment


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From pages 120 - 121:


The main thing we saw was a problem with intergenerational boundaries in both families of origin. In each case, the children had become entangled in the parents’ problems: both Pete and Amy found themselves fused with their mothers in an attempt to survive the negative aspects of life with their fathers. As a result, each of them found themselves locked into the patterns they had learned growing up; it was almost impossible for either of them to break away and develop any other style of marriage or family life...

[Following a discussion of real-life examples of a married couple (“Pete” and “Amy”)]

Pete and Amy learned some common lessons from their families of origin. Both of them learned, for example, that Mother is the source of nurture and that Father, as the material provider, is allowed to be emotionally distant most of the time and openly domineering when on the scene. Both also learned very clearly the rule, “We don’t talk about our problems.”

They also learned some lessons that turned out to be contradictory. For example, Pete learned from his upbringing that a marriage and a family could function with very little shared time. Amy, on the other hand, learned from her family that no mater how bad the problems got, you still got together, did things as a family, and acted as if everything was just fine.


From Paul Meier and Frank Minirth in “Free to Forgive: Daily Devotions for Adult Children of Abuse”:

About 85 percent of us end up marrying someone very similar in personality dynamics to our parent of the opposite sex... We continue what we got used to in childhood. (June 21 devotional)


Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You've Forgiven When....

“You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”

~ Lewis B. Smedes
in “Forgive and Forget”

Monday, August 11, 2008

Forgive Then Forget?


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From pages 185 -186:

[Following the discussion of the details of a woman named Myra, seeking to forgive her abusive father.]


“Now, Myra, I said, we’ve talked a lot about forgiving your father. I’ve told you how important forgiveness is. But listen to me: I do want you to forgive your father, but I do not want you to forget what he did. Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting. Do you understand? Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting.”

It is easy to become confused. The Bible says repeatedly that God is able to forgive and forget. For example God says “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 21:34). But it never says that we are to do the same. We cannot. Only he can. One reason why God can forget is that there is nothing he needs to learn by remembering. There is often a lot of important information that we can learn by remembering, even though we may not want to remember.

I understood how Myra felt. I’ve felt the same way myself many times. Haven’t we all? We want to get rid of the pain of harmful things that have happened to us, and we think that the way to do that is by getting rid of the memory of those harmful things. If we can work ourselves around to believing that the hurtful incident never happened, then it can’t hurt us anymore.

Or can it? The fact is that very often the harmful effects of past injuries stay with us whether or not we consciously remember the injuries themselves. This is why we say that remembering, not forgetting, is the key to forgiveness. Only when we are clear on what has, in fact, happened to us can we deal with it effectively.

We may make connections between current difficulties and painful experiences from our past. The way a friend treats us today may trigger memories of the way our parents or siblings treated us years ago. These memories, in turn, may uncover connections to other past hurts. Many of the problems people bring into counseling stem from things in their past that they needed to remember clearly before they could deal with them.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Avoiding Superficial Forgiveness


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From page 220:

There is nothing wrong with needing time to work through the process of forgiveness...

In his book, "Caring Enough to Confront," David Augsberger says, “Forgiveness is a journey of many steps.” That little sentence sums up much of what we have been saying. As much as we might like forgiveness to be quick and easy, it is a process. It is a journey, which can take many steps. The first step – choosing to forgive, choosing not to hang on to the emotional IOU – is important and should not be overlooked. But the other steps are important, too, and we should not pass over them.

We can learn a great deal from forgiveness. Being hurt by someone only teaches us to protect ourselves and to mistrust others. Forgiveness, however, presents us with a choice as to how to respond. We can brush off what has happened by extending superficial forgiveness, ending up bitter and resentful. Or we can choose the path of true forgiveness, and learn lessons along the way that will shape our lives for the better.

If we are going to take God’s principles seriously, we will see that forgiveness isn’t optional. It is essential. What is optional is whether we choose the quick and easy path of superficial forgiveness, or the harder but more rewarding path of genuine forgiveness.


Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Six Steps of Forgiveness


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From page 179:



The Six Steps of Forgiveness

1. Recognize the injury.

2. Identify the emotions involved.

3. Express your hurt and anger.

4. Set boundaries to protect yourself.

5. Cancel the debt.

6. Consider the possibility of reconciliation.


Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Our Drive to Fix the Past


People who grow up in families where their needs, wants and desires were rigidly controlled carry a great deal of baggage with them into their adult relationships. We are creatures of compulsion, and we tend to seek out the familiarity of our original family. We are also trying to work out the unresolved parts of our past as well -- trying to find the solutions that we were unable to find when we were children. Somehow, if we can make our current situation work out well, it will solve and heal some of the hurts of the past as well.

But we go about it in all the wrong ways! Our minds will pull us back to that which is familiar, but without taking an honest inventory of ourselves and our relationships, we are likely to play out the same old problems.

This is my great concern with Botkin Syndrome. I'm concerned that children that grew up in a Botkin or patriocentric home will seek refuge in marriage but will be highly likely to repeat and replay the problems of their past. Even after emerging from the system, they will have a tremendous amount of work to do.



Love is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier.


From pages 108 - 109:

A woman emerging from an alcoholic family vows to leave that misery behind forever. She marries an alcoholic and may well become an alcoholic herself despite knowing from experience what alcoholism is. A man whose home life was disrupted by several divorces finds himself constantly and repeatedly “unlucky in love.” Claudia Black wrote a landmark book on the problem with the self-explanatory title “It Will Never Happen to Me!” Numerous other sociologists and social workers have recorded the constant phenomenon: adults from dysfunctional families end up with dysfunctional adult relationships, for they have become codependents.

Why? Surely the man or woman who grew up knowing first hand the misery alcoholism or other compulsive behavior causes would know what to avoid. Can’t the sufferer see all those blatant warning signs?

We at the clinic, as well as other counselors, not a sadly intriguing fact: somehow, people who are powerfully codependent literally blind themselves to the red flags other people would flee from. No, they don’t see the warning signs, because they unconsciously choose not to. Unerringly they find themselves attracted to exactly the people they swear they’ll never end up being or joining.

Excerpts from
Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier’s
Love is a Choice:
The Definitive Book on
Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Thomas Nelson, 1989

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stoop on Boundaries


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.
From page 86:

An example of a boundary is our skin. It holds what is inside of us inside, and it keeps what is outside of us outside. Without the boundary of our skin, our organs would simply fall out. Germs and other undesirable things would enter us at will. We would have no protection and no real definition of who we are. A boundary is like a fence around our property – it lets us know where our property ends and someone else’s begins.
Where Are My Boundaries?

Do I regularly find myself saying “yes” to others – especially to other family members – when I really want to say “no”?

Do I frequently become burdened with other people’s problems because they see me as the kind of person they can come to with their troubles? Do I frequently feel resentful about this later?

In establishing preferences and desires, do I find myself wanting what I want or what “we” want? In formulating opinions, do I ask, “What do we think?” or “What do I think?”
Do I sometimes find myself feeling what other people feel? Their feelings seem to be mine as well. I am unable to stay objective.

Answering “yes” to these questions may indicate a need to clarify blurred personal boundaries within the family.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)
. .

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Anger as a Virtue: The Apostle Paul


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.



From pages 226 - 228:

Paul also wrote some helpful things about anger. Much of the content of his letters in the New Testament has to do with wisdom for daily living. In a letter to the church at Ephesus, he is making the point that all Christians belong, in some sense, to one people. He then goes on to give practiced advice on how to live together as part of a united family, including: “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger, do not sin’: Do not let the son go down while you are still angry...” (Ephesians 4:25-27).

Notice the line, “In your anger, do not sin.” That line can also be translated, “Be angry, and do not sin.” Paul seems to be saying –

that there is a difference between “anger” and “sin”;
that it is possible to be angry without sinning;
that there are times when it is actually right for us to be angry, so long as we do not sin in doing so;
some anger can be sinful.

The line, “In your anger, do not sin,” is actually a quotation from the Psalms: “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent” (Psalm 4:4).

The image of lying on our beds at night, quietly searching our hearts, helps to give meaning to Paul’s warning: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” On the one hand, we can take this literally. Paul warns that anger is a destructive force, both in terms of our own spiritual health and in terms of our relationships, and we should make dealing with it a priority. If possible, we should try to clear up whatever is standing between us and the person we are angry with...

That helps us grasp another, somewhat more figurative, understanding of Paul’s words. We can hear him saying, “Do not let your anger go into the darkness – into that place where you cannot see it, or feel it, or even acknowledge its existence.” We have already seen how harmful it can be to repress our feelings; anger can be one of the most harmful feelings to repress. It is like an acid that eats away at us from the inside.

Anger that is left unresolved, or that is buried in the darkness of denial, takes root and produces bitterness and resentment. The longer we postpone dealing with anger, the more bitterness and resentment it engenders, and the harder it becomes for us to get in touch with its existence and purge it from our hearts. Once we are aware that we are angry, we know immediately that we must at least begin the process of forgiveness, and keep our anger in the daylight where we can deal with it.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thoughts About Anger


Quotes about ANGER from Dr. David Stoop, noted in "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves":


John Bradshaw in “Healing The Shame that Binds You”:

"Perhaps the most damaging consequence of being shame-based is that we don’t know how depressed and angry we really are. We don’t actually feel our unresolved grief. Our false self and ego defenses keep us from experiencing it. Paradoxically, the very defenses which allowed us to survive our childhood trauma have now become barriers to our growth."

(pg. 137)


Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden in “Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics”:

"As adult children become increasingly aware of having been cheated out of their childhood, a wave of anger is likely to ensue. The adult child may want to be forgiving, but will still feel angry. Sometimes the anger is directed not at the alcoholic, but at the sober parent – the parent who seemingly should have known better and should have protected the child."

(pg. 31)
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Recognizing Anger: Essential for Forgiveness?


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 223 - 225:

Would you agree or disagree with the following statements?

  • Without anger, most forgiveness is superficial.
  • Genuine forgiveness almost always includes anger.

Long experience helping people deal with dysfunctional family issues lead us to agree with those statements. However, many people are bothered by them. They tend to have a certain amount of mistrust concerning anger, and are especially uncomfortable connecting it with something like forgiveness. But the fact that anger and forgiveness tend to be intimately connected. In most cases, we cannot really forgive until we have dealt with our anger. To put it another way, working through anger is often a crucial step in the process of forgiveness.

A lot of confusing ideas circulate about anger. Many of us were brought up to believe that all anger is wrong, even sinful. But anger is a fact of life. It happens to us. We experience it. What do we do then? Many of us play word games with it. We say we are “a little irritated,” or “out of sorts,” or “a bit upset.” We go to great lengths to avoid coming right out and saying, “I’m just plain mad.”

But the fact is, we often are just plain mad – and there is not necessarily anything wrong with that. The emotion of anger, in and of itself, is not wrong. Let me say again, to make sure you get it: the emotion of anger, in and of itself, is not wrong. It just is. It is part of the “standard equipment” that comes with being a human being. It is what we do with our anger that makes it either right or wrong, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.

We can use our anger wrongly, or express it in unhealthy ways. A simple example is when we “fly off the handle” at someone we love without good cause. Unhealthy anger separates us from people we love and want to be with.

But we can also use our anger for healthy purposes. For example, anger can energize us to overcome some challenge or obstacle. Who among us has not had the experience of “getting good and mad” at some stubborn problem, and finding that the energy produced by the anger gets us over the hump?

Anger can also alert us to the need to set boundaries, or limits, with other people. It is one of the ways we protect ourselves.

~~~~~

Lewis B. Smeades in “Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve”:

Healthy anger drives us to do something to change what makes us angry; anger can energize us to make things better. Hate does not want to change things for the better: it wants to make things worse. (pg. 21)



Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Denial, Forgiving and Forgetting



Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller


About Denial

From page 29:

Lydia’s parents sat silently through her presentation. [A woman confronts her parents about having been abused by them when she was a child.] When she finished, they stoically denied everything – both of them They were quite calm and matter-of-fact about it. The only emotion they showed was irritation that Lydia had accused them of “such terrible things” in front of a stranger.

From pages 203 - 204:

The power lies in the fact that we forgive even as we remember...

Forgiveness begins with remembering and accepting what has happened in the past. Acceptance is an act of integration. It is a movement towards wholeness. It is how we incorporate the past into the present, and build for the future.

A word of warning. Once we accept that “it happened,” we begin a process that will not be without its share of pain. It hurts to get in touch with how deeply we were hurt as children, to realize how those who should have loved us and protected us actually caused us harm. But as an old saying puts it, “You have to feel in order to heal.”...

Adult children of dysfunctional families often pass through the classic stages of grief: anger, denial, despair, and so on. We mourn over who we might have been, over what we didn’t get out of childhood, what we didn’t get from our parents. We may feel cheated, and stripped of self-worth. But it is important that we let ourselves feel these emotions, work our way through them, and then move on past them. Mourning is therapeutic. It is healing. It is letting go of our bitterness, canceling the emotional IOUs we are holding, so that those who hurt us no longer dominate our lives as they once did.

We can never change what has happened to us in the past. But we can change the way we respond to it in the here and now. That is the point of remembering: we remember so that we can accept and forgive. “Forgetting” is not the answer. It’s just another dead-end street. We feel regret over what happened and we wish it hadn’t happened. But it did. Now we can accept it, and let it go.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Self-Love


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:

Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 303 - 304:


The fact that they came from a home where secrecy was so prevalent makes them feel even worse about themselves. “Don’t talk” is always a cardinal rule in abusive homes...

For those who have been victims or have suffered the pain of growing up in a dysfunctional family, one of the most important truths of life is summed up in this saying of Jesus: “‘Love the Lord your god with all your heard and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Most of us are aware that the Bible commands us to love God and to love our neighbor. But I want you to notice two little words in this passage. Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Many people struggle with the idea that we are supposed to “love ourselves.” It sounds so selfish. Actually, Jesus does not so much teach that we should love ourselves as he assumes that we do love ourselves. And why not? Are we not created in the very image and likeness of God? Is our welfare not of such importance to God that “even the hairs on our heads are all numbered? Should we not love the things God loves, including ourselves?”

We are not talking here about the kind of “self-love” that expresses itself in self-glorification, narcissism, despising others, and so on. Rather we are talking about a self-love that acknowledges our worth and dignity as one of God’s sons or daughters and acts accordingly. We have already seen that our duty to love our neighbors includes forgiving them when they do us wrong. Should we not likewise be about to forgive ourselves?


Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Multi Generational Faithfulness: The Ultimate Tragedy


Another Christian resource for overcoming Botkin Syndrome: Love is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier.

In the very first chapter of the book “Love is a Choice,” the authors offer the story, what they would call a case history. They describe a couple with marital difficulties and a little about each of their grown children, using an example that allows us to see a more obvious example of how interconnected a family is, in both function and dysfunction. These books are filled with such little vignettes of people, examples of real life situations and how real people struggled with them.

The authors go on to describe how professionals came to understand this field of study – addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorders, workaholism, etc. – as a WHOLE FAMILY problem. He explains the history of the Christians who came up with the “Twelve Step” program for alcoholics, but how they soon noted that addictions were not just an issue of the person using some substance, as destructive and involved as that is. The problem is also one of the family, family roles and family behaviors, and addictions are just a symptom of a greater cause.

The alcoholic (or any who use a substance or a behavior as a means of coping or as a way of escape) becomes dependent upon either the behavior or the substance, whatever that may be. Because families all work together to help one another and provide balance (keeping all those relationship triangles in some kind of balance), each member of the family develops a role within the family. The addiction itself becomes problematic but is not the primary problem but merely a symptom. The real disease is whatever the addicted person tries to overcome or compensate for through the addiction.


From page 7:

The Ultimate Tragedy

Another tragedy with which we will deal in later chapters is a problem of multigenerational nature. The serious dysfunction in a founding family will be absorbed by the children’s families and then their children’s families, a ripple of misery extending farther and farther down through the years. The dependency or dysfunction may change: an alcoholic father may sire, for instance, a worka holic son who sires a compulsive daughter who spends her way to bankruptcy. But it’s there. It’s almost always there, wreaking it’s damage.



Excerpts from
Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier’s

Love is a Choice:
The Definitive Book on
Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Thomas Nelson, 1989

Friday, August 1, 2008

Psychological “Splitting” (and Idealizing Parents)



Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:

Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From pages 193 - 199 [Please Buy This Book!]:


What often happens with children from dysfunctional families is that the integration process gets short-circuited. They do not develop the ability to see that their parents have both good and bad qualities [psychological splitting]. They continue to operate from an unconscious belief that things must be either all good or all bad. As we will see in a moment, this results in either outright rejection of the parents, or – what is far more likely – unhealthy idealization of the parents.



Three Types of Mothers

Typically, when the process of integration has been blocked in a child’s development, we find that the mother in the family was one of three types. (This isn’t meant as an attack on motherhood, by the way – heaven forbid ) But our experience shows it to be true more often than not. [I would also suggest that this role is not limited to mothers but can be applicable to fathers as well.]



1. The Intrusive Mother. She has to be in control at all times, because she is the only one who really knows what is best for everyone.

2. The Abandoning Mother. This kind of mother doesn’t always literally run away from her children – though some do. More common is emotional abandonment, simply neglecting the kids because Mom is too busy with other things, such as her job or friends.

3. The Unpredictable Mother. Sometimes she is warm and nurturing, holding her children and whispering words of love in their ears. At other times – and with no warning – she is cold, indifferent, and critical. Her children grow up in the land of inconsistency. They survive by expecting the unexpected, never sure of what life is going to bring their way next, distrustful of others, and robbed of basic scrutiny.


BLACK AND WHITE

Children raised by one of these kinds of mothers became stuck in their emotional development. The intrusive mother makes all our decisions for us, so we never develop the ability to judge things for ourselves. The abandoning mother and the unpredictable mother make life feel unsafe. But in all these cases, children aren’t able to recognize the harmful effect stemming from the mother’s dysfunctional behavior. The attribute the “badness” they experience in their mother to themselves.
This helps illustrate something called “splitting,” which is one of the earliest defense mechanisms that develops in children. It is more or less the opposite of integration: the inability to see that good and bad qualities can co-exist in the same person...

As we have seen, one of the first things we do in life is to divide reality into all-good and all-bad. If we are able to mature emotionally, we will come to see that life is not so easily categorized. We are albe to integrate seemingly contradictory experiences. When we are prevented from maturing emotionally, we continue to force everything into one of two categories: all-good and all-bad. When our parents are in question, the pressure is almost overwhelming to consider them “all-good” despite their problems.



It’s not hard to see why, when we look at parents through the eyes of a small child:
Adults are bigger.
Adults are smarter.
Parents have power.
Parents can hurt children.



[Make sure that you read this post on “Idealizing Our Family.”]


Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Restricted Identity and Controling Feelings by Controling People


Christians weigh in on Botkin Syndrome: “Love is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier.


From page 23:



“The Ten Traits of Codependency”



1. The codependent is driven by one or more compulsions.

2. The codependent is bound and often tormented by the way things were in the dysfunctional family of origin.

3. The codependent’s self-esteem (and, frequently maturity) is very low.

4. A codependent is certain that his or her happiness hinges on others.

5. Conversely, a codependent feels inordinately responsible for others.

6. The codependent’s relationship with a spouse or Significant Other Person (SOP) is marred by a damaging, unstable lack of balance between dependence and independence.

7. The codependent is a master of denial and repression.

8. The codependent worries about things he or she can’t change and may well try to change them.

9. A codependent’s life is punctuated by extremes.

10. A codependent is constantly looking for something that is missing or lacking in life.


From page 5:

In its broadest sense, codependency can be defined as “an addiction to people, behaviors or things.” Codependency is the fallacy of trying to control interior feelings by controlling people, things and events on the outside. To the codependent, control or the lack of it is central to every aspect of life.

The codependent may be addicted to another person. In this interpersonal codependency, the codependent has become so elaborately enmeshed in the other person that the sense of self – personal identity – is severely restricted, crowded out by that other person’s identity and problems.

Excerpts from
Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier’s
Love is a Choice:
The Definitive Book on
Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Thomas Nelson, 1989

Four Ways We Can Handle Anger

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From page 240:


Four Basic Responses
to an Anger Reaction


1. We can repress the emotion.
Watch out! Repressed emotions create pressure that will eventually result in an explosion.

2. We can vent our anger.
“Don’t delay. Don’t hold back. Be ‘authentic’ with your feelings ” Following such advice can provide momentary relief, but it eventually ruins relationships and undermines our own health.

3. We can feel our anger but decide not to express it right away.
Often it pays to “count to ten.” This strategy gives us the space to respond rather than react.

4. We can learn to confess our anger to someone we trust.
The goal is to understand our feelings so that we can decide how best to respond to them.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

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Adult Children Learn to Assume the Blame


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From pages 246 - 247:

We regularly see an interesting phenomenon occur among adults who were abused as children. Thy experience an overwhelming need to cast blame somewhere. Because of the dynamics of childhood – where adults are bigger and more powerful, and therefore perceived as “always right” – abuse victims invariably place the blames on themselves.

But they soon start accepting the fact that they were only children, innocent, unable to either chose or prevent the things that were happening to them. “For the first time I realized that I wasn’t to blame for all the problems that existed in the world,” one woman said. “I felt I had to blame someone. I couldn’t blame the adults, because after all, they were adults. So the only one left to blame was me.”

Once this realization hits, they often start blaming others with a vengeance. Some are simply programmed to blame others for everything. One man named Jerry, remembers growing up in a family where everything was regarded as someone else’s fault. He can remember times when they hoped for a sunny day and it rained. His father would say, “Even God is against us today.” Jerry grew up very confused about the matter of responsiblity. If he himself didn’t bring about the wrong, then he had to point an accusing finger at someone else.

A more mature understanding of the world tells us that sometimes things just don’t work out the way we hoped. There are disappointments, unexpected developments, changes in plans, that are no one’s fault in particular... Being able to accept this reality, without always having to point the finger of blame, is an important component of personal maturity and emotional health.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)
. .

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

“HONOR THY FATHER....”



Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:

Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From pages 298 - 299:

All of recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. All of us are descended from imperfect parents, and grew up in imperfect families. But to acknowledge this as an intellectual proposition is one thing. To actually admit that our parents have failed us is, for some of us, a very hard thing to do.

It may even seem like a wrong thing to do. Doesn’t the Bible teach that we are supposed to honor our father and mother? (Exodus 20:12). Indeed we are. But what does it mean to honor our parents? Does it mean we should never acknowledge their weaknesses, limitations, and mistakes? Does it mean we should never acknowledge the pain they may have caused us? I don’t think so.

The original Hebrew word used in the passage literally means “assign weight to.” It is as though someone told us something and we replied, “I want to carefully weigh what you’ve said.” If we consider their words and decide that they are important, we are, in a sense “assigning weight” to them. Thus to “honor” our parents means to assign weight – value, importance, significance – to them.

When that original Hebrew word was translated into Greek for the New Testament, the Greek word had to do with “giving glory to” the thing being honored. Both the Greek and the Hebrew carried the sense of honoring people because of the position they held, not necessarily because of intrinsic value.

One way to understand this is to imagine that you are in a banquet hall. Part way through the banquet, your city mayor walks in. Now, let’s suppose that you are not particularly fond of this mayor. You didn’t vote for him in the last election, and you think he has made some bad decisions. Even so, when he walks into the room, you stand up with everyone else to greet him.

Why? Because he is the mayor, and honoring him is the appropriate thing to do. You assign a certain value, or “weight” to him because of the position he holds. This does not mean you now have to start liking him, or even respecting him, as a person. It does not mean you have to start pretending that you agree with everything he has done as mayor. The honor is accorded to the position he holds, not so much to the individual.

In the same way, we can honor our parents – accord them an appropriate degree of “weight” – because of the position they hold in our lives as parents. Similar to our example with the mayor, the fact that we honor them does not mean we have to pretend that they have never done anything wrong or hurtful to us.

It is healthy, not dishonoring, to acknowledge that our parents failed us, hurt us, damaged us in some way – especially if we are doing so for the sake of forgiving them. We do neither our parents nor ourselves any honor by denying reality, eliminating the possibility of forgiveness, and locking ourselves into dysfunctional patterns of thinking and acting.


Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What does the literature on family dysfunction, covert incest and addiction have to do with the Botkins?



Explaining Botkin Syndrome

I present this information here to those who have some interest in the Botkin Daughters and Family because I believe their model, promoted by patriarchy/patriocentricity and groups such as Vision Forum is destructive and unhealthy, but the nature of the dysfunction is not so apparent. For those who are interested in the Botkin concept, I hope that you will benefit from my experience and the experience of the study of families who struggle to cope with the inevitable frustrations of life.

We have unavoidable tensions in life, many painful realities that even concern religion. The Apostle Paul said that we “see through a glass darkly” so that we do not know everything that we would like to know about God, the world and ourselves. That can be painful at times and leaves us with many unanswered questions. The so-called “Biblical patriarchy” in Evangelical Christianity has been termed more succinctly as “patriocentricity” because the practicalities or the daily working out of it describes all family life as centered around the father. His considerations and protections and wisdom comes first and it therefore the functional center. I believe that this father centered model is just another construct or tool that Christians developed in order to deal with the unavoidable pains in life, but it actually does more harm to people as opposed to helping them.

I grew up in a wonderful home, an only child with two wonderful parents that have been married 45 years, at the time of this writing. We went to church and I was a devoted Christian that loved God for as long as I can remember. I grew up and entered a helping profession as a nurse (though the available choices for me were very limited by my parents), then got married. But there were many problems along the way (which you can read about in greater detail by selecting the “personal testimony” tag). We didn’t have alcoholics or drug addictions, but we had other things that we did in order to cope, one of which was religion.

I was shocked to realize that though there was no substance use or gambling, we had all of the characteristics of an alcoholic family (centered around depression instead of substances or debachery). For some time, I followed two different religious alternatives in an attempt to cope with the pain of life: (1) the Word of Faith teachings that I shared with my family, and (2) a formulaic and rule-oriented Christianity through my church’s eclectic combination of Bill Gothardism, shepherding/discipleship from the Charismatic movement in the ‘70s, and through a misapplication of Theonomy (introduced to us through the Bob Mumford connections to Chalcedon through the shepherding movement). I believe that patriocentricity, the Botkin Model, is just another type of religious means of coping with life, and they differ little from the religious means that I used myself.


The Botkin Model

The patriocentric model, the Botkin model, describes and prescribes ways by which a person can hopefully avoid many of the pains, pressures and unpredictability in life through following the wisest plan of living: the Bible. But the Bible is not so specific, and application to our age must be clarified for us. In the process of making application of those principles to our daily lives, there is a great deal of our own ideology worked in as a part of the process. We select elements from our culture that have worked for us in the past. We work in our own personal beliefs as a consequence as well, since we are the ones who are working out the plan. We use what we grew up to interpret as “normal” as a guide for us. And for our family, this constitutes a good guide. For us, the effort has been noble and worthy.

But herein lies the problem. Those who grow up in a less effective family generally grow up coping with the struggles of the other members in the family. This need not be alcoholism. In my own family, it was depression. You stand on your head and move mountains to help the depressed person survive, through constant acts of self-sacrifice and service. This is not different than how the alcoholic family operates, and it is far from healthy. In my own family, I did everything I could to “enable” the depression itself. As a consequence, I developed and LEARNED my own similar ways of coping by being both depressed and sickly. Instead of being the bad kid, I was the very good kid but also the sick child because that was the only thing that pulled my other family members out of their depression. And while I was a child, it worked. And I learned very unhealthy and destructive ways of coping, and to me, they were “normal.” But I grew up, and none of it worked anymore.

I believe that the Botkins are perpetuating the same type of system. I do not know what the original problems were (addictions or a smothering parent or through some abandonment of some type) that produced the dysfunctions in the family systems of those who have constructed patriocentricity. What I can readily recognize is the pattern and the rules, both written and unwritten. I did not grow up with an understanding of “multi-generational faithfulness” in the terms that the Botkins now profess, but I did grow up with a devotion to my depressed and dysfunctional family that needed me to perpetuate it in order to survive the pains of life. I can spot the patterns a mile away. And I know well, along with every other adult child of a family trying to survive some pain of life, the destructive outcomes that the patterns produce. Those who hold the power benefit from those who support them, and I know well the role of the enabler (as well as the pleasure of the benefits of that role – the secondary gain).


(Read more under the "triangulation" tag from the label list for more information.)


What the Botkins declare to be a Biblical model -- that outlines the wisest way to live the Christian life -- I see as the die-hard attempt to make religion work to avoid the unavoidable and inevitable unpredictability and pain of living.

The Botkin model, that of patriocentricity, contains many Christian elements and concepts that are Christianly in general, but it also has the dysfunction of the addicted family rules woven in it. From my vantage, it is obvious to me that those who drafted the specifics of it have not dealt with the grief and pain of elements of their own past, and have made patriocentricity their drug of choice.

The tragedy is that they claim that their potpourri of preference (Christianity, Old Testament Legalism, Victorian and Medieval culture, the cult of domesticity, American Nationalism, and the dynamics of dysfunctional and addicted families) is the only Biblical alternative for effective Christian living. In reality, they are preaching the family dynamics of addiction, representing them as faithful Christianity.


They are using the integrity of Word of God to legitimize (and market!) their own emotional and psychological disease processes.
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