Barber and Buehler (1996) defined enmeshment as “family patterns that facilitate psychological and emotional fusion among family members, potentially inhibiting the individu-ation process and the development and maintenance of psychosocial maturity” (p. 433). Barber and Buehler contended, further, that enmeshment is a culprit in chil-dren’s stifled development of skills to deal adequately with common social stressors. Enmeshed families are character-ized by levels of emotional closeness that are often seen as constraining. These families use manipulation, usually in the form of overly excessive, but superficial expressions of love and unity to demand loyalty from their members. Conflicts are blanketed under the guise of solidarity and great effort is expended in maintaining the status quo. Members of enmeshed families typically describe their families as conflict free, while at the same time, these very units are characterized by high demands for conformity (Barbarin & Tirado, 1985; Williams & Hiebert, 2001). Enmeshed families depend on each other excessively. Paradoxically, members of these families tend to have a limited sense of their own identity, and therefore make deci-sions based on emotions, and as a reaction to the perceived wishes of other members of


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