The Need to Belong


The Need to Belong

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Summary Reflections on what it means to foster a sense of belonging in children.
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The Need to Belong

By Steve Sachs

A child’s need to belong directly parallels an adult’s need for meaning. If we don’t give children access and warmth to the myriad ways they can belong successfully, they will surely seek their own ways of belonging, like a plant bending around obstacles and reaching for the sun. A child’s need to belong is incessant, unrelenting, and sometimes feels insidious; but that is how they locate their connection to themselves, to others, and with their world altogether.

As adults we have a slightly different but similar need — we yearn for direction and purpose. This can manifest as a spiritual path, a career, in relationships, and/or sadly in addictions. Just like children, if we don’t actively and consciously explore a direction and meaning to our lives, our default direction will take us in rather habitual patterns….so we end up parenting like we were parented, for example. This default direction isn’t inherently bad at all, it can be chock full of goodness, so long as it’s embodied and lived fully.

Our society is a bit all over the place right now, in terms of spirituality, purpose, vision, etc. It feels speedy and helter skelter. We will map on or off of this crazed consensus trance if we haven’t connected with anything else as captivating! 🙂

This is a good incentive to read what cheers us, to sing or paint or sit still with the profound silence of this moment, even for a moment. Take a walk in nature, let go and feel deeply. Try to align at least some family activities with those that bring us joy. Whatever we cultivate with our own connection will end up strengthening and deepening our purpose, and our children will naturally map onto this inspiration in their own unique efforts to belong.

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