Friday, 23 June 2017

The necessity of security and stability in family life

Written by: Yolandi Singleton (Supervisor – Assessments and Therapy Unit)

June 2017


Every house or building has a foundation. The foundation anchors the home to the ground and carries the weight of the home. If the foundation is not solid, the home is at risk. Therefore it is essential to ensure that the foundation, which is the starting point of the house, is trustworthy so that the house can be stable. I would like to link the foundation and home scenario with that of family life.

Yes, we are all very different from one another and yes, we all have different qualities and needs that makes us unique. What I definitely know is that everyone has three things in common and that is that we all have thoughts, feelings and choices. Except for choosing our families. They are in our lives for a reason. To shape us and sometimes confront us with things we never even thought of.

Some people are fortunate to have loving and supporting family members even though that family will also go through trials and tribulations. They are able to stand up, support each other and move forward. Unfortunately there are also people whose families regularly lets them down, causing those people to never experience a sense of belonging. In other words, not having a solid foundation to take on the challenging life out there.

When we conduct assessments with the children it is really noticeable that children project a strong need for healthy and positive family functioning. During the assessments we show them pictures that revolves around family happenings and provide them with the opportunity to respond and share their stories, as it happens in their lives. Children can only share what they have been exposed to. We are sometimes saddened to see children not having an idea what to say about their families as there is no proper interaction. Or they share information that indicates a lack of care and support within the families they grow up. These children suffer the emotionally and struggle to find their place in their family and in the world. They do not know who they can trust and where they belong due to the animosity between their family members. Their houses collapse, figuratively speaking due to an unstable foundation. This causes children to struggle to concentrate at school, some even practice inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour. This happens on an unconscious level and they are actually communicating to the world that they are not okay.

Mia Kellmer Pringle (2006) talks about the emotional needs of children in her books. One of the emotional needs she points out is the need for children to experience security. She explains it by mentioning that children experience security when their parents are happily married or in a loving and stable relationship. It gives them a sense of normality and builds their foundation to have a positive outlook on life. It build positive perceptions on intimate relationships as well as relationships with other people.

Unfortunately as we all know, some marriages and relationships do not work out. The best thing to be done then is to put a plan together (through a mediation process and parenting agreement – as now offered by Child Welfare Tshwane) that suits all parties and creates minimum disruption for the children. We have to face that when parents’ relationships don’t work out, the ideal dream for their children has come to an end. Therefore it is important to put effort in to make the process as less traumatising for the children.

The role of the father in a house is to bring strength and provide direction to the family and lead by example. Their presence is much more important than we realise. Children need them. They have to teach their boy children to take charge and respect other people and show their daughters how they deserve to be treated by men or any individual they come across.

In this time with Father’s day at the front of our door step, we honour the fathers that support and act as the pillar of their families. We thank them for leading the way and show their families how much they care.

We also think about those families who mourn the loss of a beloved. We witness the impact it has on children when we do bereavement therapy groups with them. Let us remember that families can make or break us. If we can encourage one another to play a positive role in their families where the members of the family can feel safe and experience stability, I am sure that the foundation of that “house” (family) is strong enough to take on the world and its challenges out there.

Hope all fathers had a happy Father’s Day!!


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