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SoGladIWasCofE

Same letter names, matching outfits, and enmeshment?

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SoGladIWasCofE

So, quiverfull families are notorious for making the entire family wear matching clothes, and for giving their kids names all starting with the same letter. (And it's not just the duggars, I did a bit of googling to confirm my "seen this around" feelings, and it does seem to be very much athing)

 

And it really does seem like a lot of quiverfull families have enmeshment issues.

 

So I was wondering, is the naming and dressing thing a result of the enmeshment? A thing encouraged by people like gothard/doug philips to promote enmeshment (even if that's not the word they'd use)? How did it become so common? To what degree is it deliberately strangling a child's ability to develop an identity? Is it just coincidental? Just what happens when you have a billion children and have to think of a load of names?

 

Because it really does seem like it would at minimum exacerbate enmeshment caused by the standard list of homeschooling, isolation, being "each others' best friends", excessive sin confessing, etc.

 

What do people think?

Edited by OnceUponATime
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Delilah

They do value conformity, that's for sure! Matching outfits look like a family uniform which is probably why my girls refused to dress alike even occasionally as soon as the oldest one decided it was "uncool". She was six and her little sister was one. I really do like that Christmas card I sent out that year with the two of them in their matching jumpers. As cute as it was, though, I couldn't imagine making older kids do it. They might stage a coup.

Fundies don't have to worry about being cool I guess. It also may be a cost-saving measure too. Matching shirts for the guys and color-coordinating skirts/tops for the gals in every size from toddler to adult all on sale at WalMart!

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BrownieMomma
So, quiverfull families are notorious for making the entire family wear matching clothes, and for giving their kids names all starting with the same letter. (And it's not just the duggars, I did a bit of googling to confirm my "seen this around" feelings, and it does seem to be very much athing)

And it really does seem like a lot of quiverfull families have enmeshment issues.

So I was wondering, is the naming and dressing thing a result of the enmeshment? A thing encouraged by people like gothard/doug philips to promote enmeshment (even if that's not the word they'd use)? How did it become so common? To what degree is it deliberately strangling a child's ability to develop an identity? Is it just coincidental? Just what happens when you have a billion children and have to think of a load of names?

Because it really does seem like it would at minimum exacerbate enmeshment caused by the standard list of homeschooling, isolation, being "each others' best friends", excessive sin confessing, etc.

What do people think?

Well, I am not convinced there is something inherently unhealthy about it. Naming all your kids alliteratively is not limited to fundies. That is something that is a matter of personal preference. Maybe it is also more of a Southern thing. I did google for it a bit but didn't come up with anything more interesting than it's your personal preference. Some people did say they did it to promote family unity. One or two situations were the parents were alliterative, named the first child with the same letter then felt compelled to keep subsequent children included so the whole family ended up being the L family.

One mom named her two kids with N at the end - Reagan and Payton - and planned to continue that.

As for dressing alike, in my children's experience at public elementary school and middle school and even my son's high school, there are dress codes and uniforms. There are some choices, like color, but generally the style for my son's high school is khaki pants and polo shirts - no fundies at that school either. So I don't see this as some terrible red flag, I'm sure they don't dress exactly alike all the time in a family. I remember reading that some of the really old-fashioned clothes for some fundies were sewn by family members who developed and adapted the same basic pattern - I don't really see anything wrong with this.

Now if those same families are sending their kids to school in all matching family outfits that are very old-fashioned, to me that signals a problem.

I did some googling on enmeshment, it seems like a term tossed around a lot on FJ but I don't really know what it means. After reading up on it, I'm still not sure as there are some conflicting ideas out there.

The Duggars seem too enmeshed - the children are not expected to choose anything different than what their parents have decreed. Example - Michelle continually saying the courting couples set their own rules for kissing and hand holding, yet she is way over-involved in it, esp considering the kids were all in their early 20's.

Another recent thread is the Arndts and idk about them. The kids are in their 30's and still living at home, yet have jobs and careers and travel (I think they travel w/o their parents, might have that wrong). I guess I would have to know more like did the boys choose their own career path or did Mom and Dad tell them what to do.

Establishing your family as a cohesive unit... what is wrong with that? Obviously parental overcontrol is a problem but helicoptering is a general problem these days. I had a therapist tell me that the new age of end of adolescence is no longer 18 but 28, and he did not mean fundies either. So I am not sure these issues are really limited to fundies, it seems in our culture lately there is a great blurring between parents and children.

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MamaJunebug

Not to thread-jack, but adolescence til 28? Dismay!!!

Back on topic: I tend to see plain or similar clothing as a nod to simplicity. There may/not be a component of wanting to be Amish, but as someone said above, certainly it's easier to organize and process clothing that follows a certain "plan," getting maximum usage out of the fewest possible items.

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Peas n carrots

Well, I am not convinced there is something inherently unhealthy about it. Naming all your kids alliteratively is not limited to fundies. That is something that is a matter of personal preference. Maybe it is also more of a Southern thing. I did google for it a bit but didn't come up with anything more interesting than it's your personal preference. Some people did say they did it to promote family unity. One or two situations were the parents were alliterative, named the first child with the same letter then felt compelled to keep subsequent children included so the whole family ended up being the L family.

One mom named her two kids with N at the end - Reagan and Payton - and planned to continue that.

As for dressing alike, in my children's experience at public elementary school and middle school and even my son's high school, there are dress codes and uniforms. There are some choices, like color, but generally the style for my son's high school is khaki pants and polo shirts - no fundies at that school either. So I don't see this as some terrible red flag, I'm sure they don't dress exactly alike all the time in a family. I remember reading that some of the really old-fashioned clothes for some fundies were sewn by family members who developed and adapted the same basic pattern - I don't really see anything wrong with this.

Now if those same families are sending their kids to school in all matching family outfits that are very old-fashioned, to me that signals a problem.

I did some googling on enmeshment, it seems like a term tossed around a lot on FJ but I don't really know what it means. After reading up on it, I'm still not sure as there are some conflicting ideas out there.

The Duggars seem too enmeshed - the children are not expected to choose anything different than what their parents have decreed. Example - Michelle continually saying the courting couples set their own rules for kissing and hand holding, yet she is way over-involved in it, esp considering the kids were all in their early 20's.

Another recent thread is the Arndts and idk about them. The kids are in their 30's and still living at home, yet have jobs and careers and travel (I think they travel w/o their parents, might have that wrong). I guess I would have to know more like did the boys choose their own career path or did Mom and Dad tell them what to do.

Establishing your family as a cohesive unit... what is wrong with that? Obviously parental overcontrol is a problem but helicoptering is a general problem these days. I had a therapist tell me that the new age of end of adolescence is no longer 18 but 28, and he did not mean fundies either. So I am not sure these issues are really limited to fundies, it seems in our culture lately there is a great blurring between parents and children.

Is 28 a scientific number or one your therapist pulled out of his/her ass?

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BrownieMomma

So the idea of school uniforms... the theory is there until I just saw the picture of Michelle in another thread wearing her bright red frumper with all the girls in their matching frumpers... ahhh hmmmm.... now I do remember a time that those collars were somewhat in style, I can't remember if it was during the time the Duggars were wearing those bright red dresses with white shirts.

I guess the idea still holds true as far the idea of school uniforms being about the same kind of idea as family uniforms. If any of those kids got separated on that outing, they'd be easy to spot and identify - so maybe for public outings there is some merit to it. The Duggars have long dropped dressing alike? I can't remember ever seeing the lost girls in matching dresses.

I would be more likely to say it is unhealthy enmeshment if the kids are teens or young adults.

I think I am not a huge fan of dressing alike... maybe similar esp for situations like taking a lot of kids, well heck maybe just a few kids, but for safety reasons. I know a young family with twin girls and it makes me a lil crazy because the twins are identical and their mom has taken it to heart, and those girls are dressed exactly alike every single time I see them. They have a younger sister who is dressed differently, completely differently. She is too young to realize it, she's only two but for the twins idk maybe I don't get it because I never had twins but I would think it would be healthier to treat them more individually than as a unit of one. That seems like a good example of enmeshment.

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JenniferJuniper
Not to thread-jack, but adolescence til 28? Dismay!!!

If your otherwise healthy "kid" is still at home at 28 and isn't contributing in some very meaningful way to the good of the household (paying a fair rent or caring for an elderly relative for instance), then it isn't adolescence, it's parental enabling. If, as in the case some of the fundies we know and love, you aren't allowing your 28 year old out of the house, something's seriously messed up of course.

28 is getting close to 35, and before you know it, some folks will probably be saying 35 is the new end of adolescence. Just because they've got a 35 year old living in the basement.

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busybee
So, quiverfull families are notorious for making the entire family wear matching clothes, and for giving their kids names all starting with the same letter. (And it's not just the duggars, I did a bit of googling to confirm my "seen this around" feelings, and it does seem to be very much athing)

I think they're notorious for it because, when matching names and clothes are done on a large family, it's memorable. I've seen small families of 2 or 3 kids that have names starting with the same letter, and it isn't as memorable. I've known a couple large-but-planned-when-done families that had 4-6 children with names beginning with the same letter, which is a bit more noticeable.

But, I know many families that don't use birth control, including my own, and none had a theme with names beginning with the same letter. Now it may be popular in some circles, but it's not the norm in the ones I frequent. :shrug:

As for matching clothes, I haven't personally seen those either, except on group field trips where it makes it easier to know what everyone is wearing, or a family portrait. But, there are plenty of private and even public schools that have uniforms that match. Or parents of twins that frequently dress them in matching clothes, which seems cute to me occasionally, but would bug me typically.

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usmcmom

This brought back fond memories of raising my quiver of....TWO. I dressed my son and daughter alike for Christmas photos until he was around seven (little sister would have been four) and I knew he'd hate it after that. I made a jumper for her and a vest for him out of whatever holiday fabric, according to the photos, looked the most obnoxious and blinding. Sometimes I'd splurge from a specialty children's shop and get him a sweatshirt and her a fleece jumper with FESTIVE WINTER APPLIQUES!!! My sister-in-law did the same thing and we still joke about how fun it was (or how obsessed we were). Also, the entire collection of poses had to be planned around my poor son tilting his head to avoid being hidden by his sister's giant bow. Good times!

*Disclaimer - I did let my daughter wear more than jumpers. It's just the only thing I knew how to make in those days :?

Oh, anybody remember Kelly's Kids clothing parties? I was totally in love with that company and our budget allowed me to purchase an outfit for each child once, maybe twice, a year. But oh how I loved those outfits!

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BrownieMomma

If your otherwise healthy "kid" is still at home at 28 and isn't contributing in some very meaningful way to the good of the household (paying a fair rent or caring for an elderly relative for instance), then it isn't adolescence, it's parental enabling. If, as in the case some of the fundies we know and love, you aren't allowing your 28 year old out of the house, something's seriously messed up of course.

28 is getting close to 35, and before you know it, some folks will probably be saying 35 is the new end of adolescence. Just because they've got a 35 year old living in the basement.

Even the ebil gubmint is on it - carry your child til age 26. A lot has had to do with poor economic opportunity - plenty of college grads cant get a job in their field or its so low-paying that they dont have a whole lot of choice.

But there is probably a world of difference between few choices due to the economic climate vs deliberately keeping your adult children at home a la Maxwells.

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usmcmom

I think I am not a huge fan of dressing alike... maybe similar esp for situations like taking a lot of kids, well heck maybe just a few kids, but for safety reasons. I know a young family with twin girls and it makes me a lil crazy because the twins are identical and their mom has taken it to heart, and those girls are dressed exactly alike every single time I see them. They have a younger sister who is dressed differently, completely differently. She is too young to realize it, she's only two but for the twins idk maybe I don't get it because I never had twins but I would think it would be healthier to treat them more individually than as a unit of one. That seems like a good example of enmeshment.

We knew twin boys who dressed alike all the way through high school :? . I'm pretty sure it was at the order of their very controlling mother. It was quite bizarre. I once asked them "So, who decides what you will wear each day?" They told me they alternate weeks on wardrobe coordination. Even when they were young adults, it was hard to tell them apart because they had not been allowed to develop their own style or be separate from each other in any way.

My friend with twin girls (age eight) has always dressed them differently and, even at this young age, they have different preferences in style. One prefers more casual and sporty and one prefers a more dressy look. Even with their school uniforms, one wants a looser, longer fit so her mom goes up a size for her in the dresses. She's done a great job in respecting their need for individuality, in my opinion.

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IronicallyMaeve

The prefrontal cortex doesn't finish developing until the mid-20s. Perhaps that's where age 28 came from? Adolescence stills ends at 18, though. Many people much smarter than I am have debated exactly when certain life stages end--but I've never heard one say that adolescence later than age 18 or 19.

And just because the prefrontal cortex isn't *quite* fully developed doesn't mean that young people get a free pass. It's just understandable if they do stupid things sometimes. (and I'm 21, so I'm including myself in there. I do stupid things sometimes, but not often.)

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Satisfied
church_of_dog
The prefrontal cortex doesn't finish developing until the mid-20s. Perhaps that's where age 28 came from? Adolescence stills ends at 18, though. Many people much smarter than I am have debated exactly when certain life stages end--but I've never heard one say that adolescence later than age 18 or 19.

And just because the prefrontal cortex isn't *quite* fully developed doesn't mean that young people get a free pass. It's just understandable if they do stupid things sometimes. (and I'm 21, so I'm including myself in there. I do stupid things sometimes, but not often.)

Assuming that the development of the prefrontal cortex is physiologically-based and not culturally-based, this means that 100 years ago and 200 years ago it was also true that the brains of 18/19 year-olds were not completely developed, and yet culturally those people were considered adults and presumably mostly behaved accordingly (unless there were similar discussions 200 years ago, lol).

In fact I seem to recall reading that the concept of "teenagers" is a relatively modern idea, say in the last 100 years, and before that people thought mostly in terms of "child" and a direct transition to "adult".

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shedemei

But did biology change, or ease of life change? Kids worked because they had to for the family to avoid poverty. 18 is just an arbitrary number in which you get legal rights (at least in the us). I doubt that number was arrived at due to knowledge of brain development and more because it's about the upper limit of public school.

28 is ridiculous and infantilizing, but most people do experience a lot more growth and maturity from early 20s to late twenties than other spans. A lot of the early 20s in the western world really are about cementing your place in the world and becoming an adult. It's still somewhat transitional for most.

I'm curious how this plays out in other cultures.

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lawlifelgbt

I think a lot of the later end of adolescence comes from the financial burdens young people face. If you consider someone a child until they move out/do not need any financial help, then today's people are "kids" longer. But the largest factor in that is of course crushing student debt and lack of available well-paid jobs because older persons aren't retiring. To a lesser extent, I also blame helicopter parenting.

I'll be 25 next month, and I don't see myself as a kid any more (my parents still do but that's another story). Due to the huge rifts between us that happened from 16-20, plus the huge blow-up over my marriage, I was booted from the "nest" (I don't mean physically, I just mean "nest" in terms of emotional, financial, etc. support- I have lived on my own for all but 9 months since I was 18).

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shedemei

I can definitely relate to the financial part. My early twenties were a complete disaster in which I worked multiple part-time jobs, lived below the poverty line but not enough to get help, and had no health or dental insurance for seven years. I didn't have family support. It sucked.

There are interesting nuances between Gen-X (who started out in a less shitty recession) and Millenials. Young adults today have a harder time and are driven back home. Gen-X mostly expected the world to suck and lived in our shitty apartments working our shitty jobs until our opportunities came along.

Those shitty jobs are not available today because of demand by older people, wages don't keep up with inflation, and you're totally right that the good jobs aren't opening up. I totally understand the extension of insurance coverage and living at home as necessity, but I do think you're right that helicopter parenting plays a huge role.

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shedemei

Another thought: life experience often plays a bigger role than age. Marriage, for example, can force a lot more maturity. Having kids really does.

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jaynie

For the record, every psych person I've come across refers to 18-25 as "emerging adulthood", rather than adolescence. Some people even suggest that there is another new life phase, around 55-65 - can't remember what its called, but it has to do with being older but still active and unwilling to retire, a parent of adult children with no kids of their own yet, etc. So those things are culturally driven on both ends of the spectrum.

As for the historical perspective. While its true that people generally had to take on adult responsibilities as soon as possible in the past, you do get loads of literature referring to young adults as hotheaded, impulsive, cocky-but-also-insecure, etc. So I don't think young adults have changed in terms of brain development. We just have very different concerns to muddle our way through now.

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JenniferJuniper
I think a lot of the later end of adolescence comes from the financial burdens young people face. If you consider someone a child until they move out/do not need any financial help, then today's people are "kids" longer. But the largest factor in that is of course crushing student debt and lack of available well-paid jobs because older persons aren't retiring.

I agree that student debt is a huge issue, but people really do need to stop taking out loans they cannot afford for schools they probably do not need.

And when was it ever the case that new college grads were entitled to high paying jobs? In some professions, certainly. But most grads are going to have to start off at bottom rung somewhere and work their way up or use skills they've learned to trade up to a better position somewhere else. I graduated in terrible economic times, and started working for an insurance company for barely more than minimum wage. It was a tedious, non-fun job, but I was later able to use the skills I learned and couple them with my fast food manager experience (I had to work two jobs to afford an apartment with a roommate) and become a fairly high-paid manager at another firm.

When I hear stories of friends and colleagues who have 20 somethings and 30 somethings still at home, its usually because they haven't found something they "want" to do. Sorry, but life usually doesn't work that way. You have to get off your arse and make things happen, and sometimes that involves a lot of hard, unpleasant work in the early days.

As for "older persons" hanging on to all the great jobs, many companies routinely purge employees in their 50's and trade them for less expensive younger people. Illegal, but they have their ways. And a large percentage of employed people take their Social Security at 62 rather than at full retirement age of 66 or 67. So I don't really think that's a big issue.

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2xx1xy1JD

Dressing alike and have same-letter names seems to be a cutesy thing, there's no specific religious reason for it.

It may be that the sort of person who would have a zillion kids is also the sort of person who values the cutesy stuff over individuality. I know some non-fundies, though, with unfortunate matching names for their children. I admit to have a few matching nice outfits for my girls when they were younger - in fact, when Girl 1 was almost 3, she had a fit in a store and insisted that we buy a matching dress for Girl 2, who was still a fetus. I can't see them doing that now, although they do trade clothes, but isolated homeschooled kids may not worry as much about being cool.

On the practical side - I suppose if you sew your own clothes, it's easier to buy a big bolt of fabric and follow the same pattern for everyone. I can also see it being useful if you are out in public and know that the 10 kids in blue are yours.

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Depressed
polecat

Up until last year, I'd dress my kids alike when we'd go somewhere not because it was "cutesy" or for family togetherness but because it's a helluva lot easier to spot your kids in a crowded place when they're all wearing bright red or neon green shirts or something similar. Heck, I've seen schools and daycares do the same thing -- make the kids wear matching tees to better keep track of them and to more easily find them if one wanders off.

I never realized this was something so far out of the norm as to be snarkworthy because I see it *all. *the. *time. where I live.

As to matching names, my SIL is as nonfundy as they come, and she has three girls with their names ending in "ey." I also don't think that's all too atypical.

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IReallyAmHopewell

When the Duggars were in their small house I could totally understand the it's "Blue on Monday" "Green on Tuesday"--it DID simplify the laundry. Ditto all the girls socks being white and the boys black. But matching is a Gothard thing--so you show family unity.

I think TV has pretty well taken care of that for the Duggars and now, thankfully, for the poor Bates girls.

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onlyme

I have a large family and I could never do the matching outfit thing. Mainly because I couldn't afford all the clothes at once, but also because I couldn't bear to make the youngest in the line wear that same dress over and over through the hand-me-downs. We did have friends that bought them all matching jumpers once. It was fun to dress all alike a couple times, and then the novelty wore off and they wore them at different times just like anything else in their closet.

I did, however, try to coordinate a little, just because with a crowd that big it felt chaotic to have one person wearing, say, bright jewel tones, another pastels and another earth tones, etc. Just a little hard on the eyes, with all that going on.

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IronicallyMaeve

Assuming that the development of the prefrontal cortex is physiologically-based and not culturally-based, this means that 100 years ago and 200 years ago it was also true that the brains of 18/19 year-olds were not completely developed, and yet culturally those people were considered adults and presumably mostly behaved accordingly (unless there were similar discussions 200 years ago, lol).

In fact I seem to recall reading that the concept of "teenagers" is a relatively modern idea, say in the last 100 years, and before that people thought mostly in terms of "child" and a direct transition to "adult".

Considering most humans have very, very similar brain structures I think it's probably physiological. Unfortunately, I don't think we have very many 200-year-old brains to check that out...

Anyway, until fairly recently, we (by which I mean America and other "westernized"/WEIRD nations) had very strict standards for behavior and potentially horrific consequences if those standards were challenged. In order to survive, or at least fit in, people had to follow the rules. We see examples all the time of fundies forcing their children into far too mature roles and behaviors. Blanket training, sister moms, etc.

And I'm sure young adults were getting up to all sorts of shenanigans way back when. It just wasn't talked about, or they were much sneakier about it. Or both. Hmmm, that would be an interesting thing to look up.

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19 cats and counting

Growing up, I had a lot of matching clothes with my (only sibling) sister. And if her name were spelled the traditional way (does not butcher the name but is an acceptable alternative spelling and has been in the top 300 names), our names would start with the same letter. BUt the reason for the matching clothing is that my step grandmother LOVED shopping and loved buying us matchy outfits. I think one Christmas dress that we owned (which I saw something similar in a throwback Bates pic) she bought in about 5 different sizes and that was my Christmas dress until 5th grade. (I wasn't even raised Christian).

I was in middle school when the matching outfits stopped (around the time she was diagnosed with cancer). We don't dress anywhere near alike now--- she's very preppy (think J. Crew catalog) and I'm more bohemian. I'm going out of the way to buy my nieces non preppy clothes (for now only things with cats on them).

Also the same letter thing is also used in non fundie families. Kardashians anyone?

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