miss your kid too much to send them to camp? This is for you...

***Thanks to the input of Celia, I've edited this post. - UM

As someone who enjoys camp and struggles with the dreaded "homesickness" - I thought this news article was interesting.


There is apparently a new term for parents who have trouble separating from their children. kid-sickness.

Great, in a society that has become increasingly connected we find symptoms of disconnectedness. But let me clarify - I don't think its a bad thing for parents OR kids to feel home/kid-sick. If anything, it shows some stability or familiarity that is lost when a summer camp experience interjects. What is the bad part is the inability of the person to deal with this separation. Thats all homesickness is! Its separation anxiety. And we can learn a lot about ourselves in such a situation.

There is a term in family systems theory (I think its FST?) called enmeshed. This is where one person's persona encompasses another person's persona and it is not a good thing. There are appropriate levels of acceptance for other people around you and depending on age, family placement, birth order, etc, people can be enmeshed. Being "connected" is good and implies the baseline appropriate relationship. How can being enmeshed be a bad thing?

To quote from the source... (http://www.thebowencenter.org/conceptds.html)

People with a poorly differentiated "self" depend so heavily on the acceptance and approval of others that either they quickly adjust what they think, say, and do to please others or they dogmatically proclaim what others should be like and pressure them to conform. Bullies depend on approval and acceptance as much as chameleons, but bullies push others to agree with them rather than their agreeing with others. Disagreement threatens a bully as much as it threatens a chameleon. An extreme rebel is a poorly differentiated person too, but he pretends to be a "self" by routinely opposing the positions of others.

A person with a well-differentiated "self" recognizes his realistic dependence on others, but he can stay calm and clear headed enough in the face of conflict, criticism, and rejection to distinguish thinking rooted in a careful assessment of the facts from thinking clouded by emotionality. Thoughtfully acquired principles help guide decision-making about important family and social issues, making him less at the mercy of the feelings of the moment. What he decides and what he says matches what he does. He can act selflessly, but his acting in the best interests of the group is a thoughtful choice, not a response to relationship pressures. Confident in his thinking, he can either support another's view without being a disciple or reject another view without polarizing the differences. He defines himself without being pushy and deals with pressure to yield without being wishy-washy.

Basically if I'm enmeshed, who I am is defined with you.

Of course, if you or someone you know is experienced in FST I'd love you (or your friend) to straighten me out, I might have the terminology all wrong.


Within the camp setting, children lose their sense of self with the loss of that defining relationship (my mom). I don't think I've met a kid yet who was homesick and missed their Dad. I've met kids who missed their "parents" but never just the dad... anyway...

We as Christians will sometimes poorly differentiate our God from our Church or our Pastor. Its not uncommon for people with charismatic pastors to feel closer to God and be more active in Church OR the opposite - I hate my pastor, why is God so far away? Or, so-and-so made me angry, I'm never going back to that church again.

Christians should never be home-sick for heaven. The second you look past this life to the next and think less of where you are, you've compromised the Gospel somehow.


  1. the more common term in the field is enmeshed...not necessarily fused.


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