BY: Tray Tankersley, APC, NCC, ThM
Years ago, the medical field coined a phrase to describe symptoms pediatric nurses and doctors sadly encountered with their young patients. The medical workers noted weight or rate of weight gain that was significantly below that of children of the same age and sex. These observations were summarized in the phrase, failure to thrive.
Often the cause of failure to thrive is organic, tied to not taking in enough calories because of poor nutrition. However, the medical field also discovered non-organic (unrelated to nutrition) causes of failure to thrive. Research showed that even when children’s basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, diaper changes, baths) are met, if the child does not have an emotional connection (an attachment or bond) with another human being, the child will not thrive and sometimes, the child will not survive.
Think about that!
A child needs an emotional connection just as much as she needs food, shelter and clothing! What is connection?
Think of connection as an emotional bonding that keeps loved ones close so that they will “be there” for us, emotionally, when we are in need. Sue Johnson (creator of Emotion Focused Therapy) writes, “In order to fully thrive, we all need someone to depend on, a loved one who can offer reliable emotional connection and comfort.”
To develop cognitively, emotionally and physically, children need a strong, predictable, stable emotional connection. He needs this as much as he needs food, shelter and clothing.
Adults also need emotional connection! We NEVER grow out of our need for connection. We do not become adults and then all of a sudden don’t need to feel safe, loved and bonded to another. We are hardwired for connection…and this hardwiring and need never goes away, no matter how old we are!
Obviously, as adults, we do not need to fed with bottles and we no longer need diapers.
But the need to feel close to, connected with, bonded to, attached to another person…that need never goes away, no matter your age.
Every conflict in a marriage relationship is really about ONE thing…
Conflicts about dishes, parenting differences, sex, sharing details of life are really about being seen, being heard, being taken seriously, being considered. All of us want to know the same things about our spouse: does he care about me, does she appreciate how stressed I feel, does he really know how I am doing and how deeply this (behavior) affects me, does she listen to my concerns.
Conflicts are cries for connection! And we all NEED connection!
Legacy Strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.