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)