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Sameness: One of the Missing Ingredient in our Families

The loss of sameness in our children’s lives leads to this same loss of security – only they are less able to compensate for this loss.

This June marked the 20th year our family has vacationed at the same cabin that we’ve rented from the same family. That is the entire life span of our son Eric, who was just three months old the first time we came here. Our daughters were two and four.

We lived in the same house for fourteen years and went to the same church and after moving we have lived in the same house for five years and attended the same church. My husband had the same job for fourteen years and has been at his current job for five years.

Do you notice all the “sames” in the above sentences? Memories and a sense of security are built on the foundations of sameness.

Gone are the days of a father working for his entire career at the same business. Gone are the days of families who have lived in the same house for the entire life span of their children. Gone are the days of going to the same school with the same friends from beginning to end. We no longer have a family physician that not only delivered all our children but cared for them for their entire life. The vow we take at marriage “till death do us part” no longer seems relevant to most people, having been replaced with “until I no longer love you” or some other trite phrase.

During my lifetime I’ve had four different sets of friends – each time we change houses, employment, or churches we also change friends.

There can be some good in these changes. I’ve learned to be more flexible, I’ve learned how to develop new friendships, I’ve learned how to make an enjoyable life for myself in new situations, but I’ve also lost touch with old friends, and lost some of the sense of security that comes with having sameness in my life.

It grieves me when I think of the relationships I’ve left behind. Sure, some of them continue and when you get together once or twice a year it seems as if nothing has changed and you can readily enter back into the comfortable relationship that you had for years. That seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
The loss of sameness in our children’s lives leads to this same loss of security – only they are less able to compensate for this loss.

50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.

This means that half of the children in the United States not only faces all of the above changes, but needs to adjust to living in two different households, switching every week or month as set up by their parents. They often have to adjust to having a new mom and/or dad and new sets of siblings in both of those relationships.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine having to live in two different houses and two different families and switching places regularly. Yet this is what we have come to expect from millions of children all the time.

The other situation children of divorce often find themselves in is growing up without a father. Fully 40% of children with divorced parents have no father who is active in their lives.

Children who don’t have the coping abilities of adults are losing even their basic sense of sameness. Is it any wonder that so many of them end up with emotional, physical, and psychological problems?

We are often told that children are resilient and learn to cope with these losses. Single parenthood is promoted as normal on TV and in movies.

I contend that parents separating and leaving each other and their children is not normal, and that children of whatever age do not learn how to cope well, but that losing their sense of sameness leads to lifelong damage.

This is not a popular stand because if you are the one who is tired of your spouse or have met someone new and want to get out of a marriage, you don’t want to hear that you are going to damage your children irreparably. You don’t want to hear that the best thing you can do for them is to love your spouse – to make that relationship work. Yes, work – marriage is work, and most of them fail because someone is no longer willing to work at that most important relationship. We seem to have forgotten that love is not just a feeling, but a decision, and once we make that decision we need to be steadfast and be willing to work through the difficult times to make it work.

When I got married 25 years ago our pastors asked us to make a commitment to each other that divorce would never be an option. I’m really grateful for having been asked to do that and that both of us were willing to make that decision. I’m glad to say that even during the roughest times it never was mentioned as an option.

Would you be willing to make that commitment to your spouse today?  I think we as a society need to recognize what we are doing to future generations by removing the sameness in their lives, and be willing to take seriously our marriage vows. We need to give our children the years and years of sameness that they need to develop into adults who are healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.

“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?  He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Matthew 19:6-8 (King James Version)

Finding Joy in the Journey,


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  • Stacy
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    She claims that she doesn’t want to call me because she knows I work weird shifts, etc., and she doesn’t want to catch me at a bad time. However, I’m sure there are times when I’ve called her, and she simply didn’t answer the phone. (They have caller ID, so she’d be able to tell if I called.)

    But even if she still uses the excuse that she doesn’t want to call, for fear it’s a bad time, that isn’t an excuse for not responding to my emails.

    I know that while she was waiting for the heart transplant, she reconnected with an old friend. It makes me wonder if she’s the type who can only handle one friend at a time.

  • Phyllis
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    Oh Stacy,
    I’m so sorry things have been so tough for you. Did you and your friend argue or??

    Sometimes when we have a lifestyle change old friends just don’t seem to feel like they fit in very well anymore. I married at 38 and had children at 40 so friends my age had young adults not babies, and didn’t know what to do with someone who had babies at their age. So my peer group became young mothers – I was an old young mother.

    I did stay in touch with older friends, but my interests were very different than theirs too. They didn’t want to discuss potty training etc.

    I faced a long period of not having a close friend. During that time I learned to rely more on the Lord. After several years – yes years – He brought someone into my life who became a very dear friend – totally unexpected and wonderful

    You are in my prayers. Phyllis

  • Stacy
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    I have been going through a season of grieving. When I started working f/t outside the home, continuing to homeschool, and manage my home as best as I could, I no longer had the time to keep in touch with many friends. The gal I considered my very best friend won’t even return my phone calls or emails when I do take the time to connect. That really hurts. After all, I walked her through some of the most difficult times of her life (marriage trouble and waiting on a heart transplant.) Now that I’m going through the hardest time of my life, I can’t count on her. I have no one I can talk to about the issues, other than my own mother. And honestly, I know I shouldn’t be discussing some of the stuff w/her, but there isn’t anyone else. It’s really been tough.

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