The Sense of Family Belonging
Humans are social beings. Feeling that we belong to something bigger than ourselves is one of the greatest human needs. Since humans establish their first social relationships in their homes, the sense of family belonging is very important for future development.
What does a sense of belonging mean?
Belonging is the feeling that comes from knowing that you’re part of a group. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you can see that, after meeting your most basic needs (physiological and safety), you have to meet the needs of love and belonging.
Belonging is intimately linked with your identity since, for you, a group is a benchmark of who you are. It’s also related to your self-esteem. This is because how proud you are of the group you belong to affects your self-esteem.
Belonging gives you a sense of transcendence and safety, as you know that you’re a part of something beyond yourself and that you’re not alone in the world.
In children, the sense of family belonging begins to develop in their first years of life, at home with their parents and siblings. The family is the first group children are a part of. In this sense, family members will be in charge of making the child know they’re loved, accepted, and integrated into the family.
Regardless of what one may believe, the sense of family belonging doesn’t arise from similar personalities or sharing the same tastes. The key is precisely the family’s acceptance and appreciation of each member, with their unique tastes, desires, and preferences.
Benefits of having a sense of family belonging
- It helps to build strong and solid bonds between family members. In addition, it fosters values such as love, respect, and mutual care. As family is an important part of people’s identity, this will help them strengthen family ties and join forces with one another.
- When a child feels part of their family, it’s easier for them to understand the concepts of reciprocity and generosity. They also naturally learn to nurture relationships, as they’re very valuable, and understand that living with others means taking their needs into account.
- If the family adequately develops the child’s sense of belonging, it’ll be easier for them to adapt and integrate into other social groups in the future. They’ll enjoy a greater social satisfaction at school, in their circle of friends, or at work.
- A child with a good sense of family belonging is cooperative, friendly, and understanding with the people around them. Therefore, they’re appreciated and valued by all of them.
- A child with little sense of family belonging will tend to isolate themselves and have a hard time making friends. They can be easily influenced or very competitive and will be very critical of themselves and others.
How to promote the sense of family belonging
- Provide infants the necessary attachment, love, and support to make them feel cared for and safe. Let them perceive that they’re not alone and that someone cares for them.
- Introduce them to the family culture. Tell them the same stories you were told as a child or sing the same songs to them. Share family tastes with them. If you’re an athletic family, play sports with them. If you enjoy cooking as a family, make the children participate in the process as if it were a game.
- Integrate them into the extended family. Uncles, cousins, grandparents, and ancestors. All of these people are part of the child’s family lineage and, therefore, their identity. Show them photos and tell them family stories.
- Organize family meetings or events so that your children can spend time with their relatives.
- Assign them age-appropriate chores and responsibilities. This way, you promote caring for something that’s very valuable for the entire family: your home. In addition, you boost generosity as all the family members collaborate for their collective well-being.
- Cultivate family time. For example, have conversations to share opinions, organize family plans, or play a game as a family. The important thing is to enjoy fun quality time as a family.