Why Your Child Seeks a Second Family
It’s funny – no matter how great the family, the kids are still going to crave something different. And it doesn’t matter how many toys they have or how big the house, they’re still going to want a twin sister like the Sweet Valley High girls or a wizarding family like the Weasleys. Why is that?
First, realize that it’s totally normal for them to want a second family of sorts; it’s not a reflection of your parenting and they don’t really even want something different. They want close relationships in additional ways; not in place of what they have.
Second families come in all sorts of forms, from becoming an extension of a close friend’s family, to building a church family or even families within a sports team. Each is different and provides children with additional support and relationships that are sometimes only possible outside of the nuclear family.
For example, they might form a close bond with a friend’s mother or gymnastics coach. That surrogate parent isn’t a replacement for you – if anything, it’s a positive reflection on you in that they’re comfortable conversing with and bonding with adults. True, they may feel comfortable in ways that they aren’t currently around you (their friend’s mom isn’t likely to ground them, after all), but as long as they’re people that you trust, that family extension can bring so much positive into your child’s life.
In sports, teammates can become like siblings, in a way, pushing each other to new levels and, at times, frustrating them in the process. Coaches become the crazy aunts and uncles who can ask questions and weigh in on topics that, sometimes, kids might not be wild about facing with their parents.
These relationships aren’t a replacement in any way, and sometimes in wanting a second family, what kids are really wanting is a larger sense of belonging and a way to connect with and reach out to people that they might not be able to within their nuclear family. Sometimes they’re simply seeking role models and a better understanding of what success looks like in a realm that they understand; parents may be very successful in their careers and great role models, but to a young child, it’s hard to relate that to success in a gymnastics meet. That second family offers a way to bridge that gap and better understand and relate to the world around them.
One of our founding principles is creating families. We have seen first hand the bonds that teammates make with one another last well beyond the time the athletes are performing together on the same team. One of the most amazing things is seeing former athletes going on to live together in college for the next 4 years, or continuing to come back and support follow on generations of teams. In many ways children seek out second families because they know the bulk of their life will be spent in the world, on their own, without the comfort and security of their parents household. Learning how to create that family is a vital aspect of children building their future selves when they leave the family nest.
Remember, it’s a second family – not a replacement family. And you know what they say… “it takes a village.”