Differentiation vs. Annihilation
First in a four part series.
According to the New Milan Dictionary:
Differentiation: “To distinguish oneself as different from another.”
Annihilation: “To make something go away as though it didn’t exist.”
So… this week, my daughter Amy told her four-year-old son Reece, “We’re going to Nana and Poppy’s for dinner.”
He was quiet and then said, “I don’t like going to Poppy’s, he kisses me too much.”
At first, I was hurt, yet within a few moments of collecting myself I said to Amy, “Cool, I’ll adapt to his desires which are different than
Let’s go back a few decades.
My father was the son of an immigrant whose practice was to hug and kiss family and friends on the cheek as a greeting or to say goodbye.
Until the day he died, I still kissed my dad on the cheek every time we met or departed.
My mother was a Midwest small town girl whose family called kisses “sugars” and when my aunts saw me coming, they would extract at least ten or fifteen sugars from each cheek.
“Train up a child in the way which he should go?” (Proverbs 22:6)?”
For this kid, I was trained to be a kisser of those I love.
As a dad, I of course incorporated kissing into all forms of play and wrestling with my four children.
As the kids rode on my back around the living room I would stop and say, “Kisses make the horsie go”.
They would then laugh, lean over and give me a few kisses, which like a token at Chuck E. Cheese would start the ride all over again.
All of my grown children give each other kisses, and even my sons and I will kiss, even in public, when we say hello or goodbye.
Let’s just say then that kissing in the Yerkovich family is as common and second nature as breathing, eating and sleeping.
So what do I do with Reece’s request?
If I allow him to be different from me, I will honor his request and adapt to the fact that he wishes to distinguish himself as having other preferences, likes and dislikes.
I could choose to annihilate his personhood and individuality by insisting that he conform to my preferences, wishes, likes and dislikes.
“This is the Yerkovich Way, it is sacred and he will have to adapt to me. I’M the Poppy!”
He’s four and I’m fifty something.
What does he know?
I’m right, and he’s wrong.
Sadly, many family systems and marriages toxically annihilate one another on a regular basis.
Few family systems and marriages allow and celebrate other’s being different.
Whether its politics, colors on the living room walls, how the dishwasher is loaded or a desk organized, we all have a tendency to insist that others think, do, feel and say the same way that we do.
What is the effect?
People are lost in the process.
Gifts are not developed, adult voices never mature, talents are not cultivated, and dreams are never realized.
What does occur as a result is resentment, bitterness, anger, weakness and disconnection.
In a marriage, if one person dominates, the other is eclipsed.
They cease to exist.
They have been annihilated.
What causes this?
The simple answer is insecurity.
There is a lack of security on the parts of both people.
For the one who must make other’s opinions and actions “go away”, their anxiety causes them to be unable to tolerate differences because they threaten their fragile inner world and cause them to be frightened in some way.
For the one whose personhood is being erased, they struggle with internal fears to speak up and be heard so that they are not invisible.
They are afraid of the wrath and ire of another’s disapproval.
Over the next four weeks, we will examine further the origins of the insecurity that prevents us from allowing ourselves and others to fully develop and mature into the person that God desires.
We will also look at each of the love styles and their specific struggles with differentiation.
And lastly, we will look at the solutions toward healing for all of us who struggle with this common problem.
Oh, what happened with Reece at Poppy’s house?
We played, had a hug or two and I gave him a “high five’ when he went out the door.
We were both secure enough to allow there to be differences in our relationship.
Love and blessings,
Milan and Kay