Most intangible things in life come from psychology. We’re unable to see or grasp them, but they are there. The studying of the mind has revealed things about us that we never would have known.
We talked about the bare bonds of bonds last week. This week we’ll begin with more depth, and we’ll explain some of the psychology behind bonding.
Psychology has shown us that we actively seek to connect with other people.
Spent a considerable amount of time alone at a point in life? I have. I bet you have too.
It’s not a fun feeling when you’re deprived of social interaction and we naturally seek connections.
I remember one summer where I spent most of my time inside, watching television. Where I live settlements are rather spread out, if you don’t have a car, which makes it difficult to connect with friends. The first while of watching television for most of the day was great, but quickly turned sour. The loneliness began to set in. That was my summer.
Do you see what was happening? Psychology tells us we seek out human connections.
Our need to belong is what drives us to seek out stable, long lasting relationships with other people. It also motivates us to participate in social activities such as clubs, sports teams, religious groups, and community organizations.
Bonding with stepkids is not different from wanting to fit in. We’re parts of our new family, we feel like outsiders, and so we wish to fit into this new role. Our desire for connection, with the members of our new family, drives us towards bonding. The most powerful form of social integration and belonging.
Here’s a quick summary:
- We desire to connect with other people.
- Psychology provides insights into these connections.
- We desire to “fit in or be accepted”.
- We crave a sense of belonging in life. It gives us a sense of purpose.
- Bonding with your stepfamily is really about fitting into your new family.
Psychology has shown the reward center of our brains release dopamine.
What is dopamine? A natural chemical found throughout our brains. Working together with the reward center of our brains, and is a culprit for addictions to drugs, behaviors and other ‘reward triggers.’
Dopamine holds power over us in everything we do. When you smell those roses and you think, “What a nice scent,” your brain has released dopamine. When you experience pleasure, dopamine is the chemical released by the brain.
Bonding with our stepkids has the same effects. When we connect with them successfully, our brain interprets this as a cue to release a reward — dopamine. That fact is one of the reasons we seek these bonds. They’re rewarding and addictive. Our hunger for success and social integration drives us towards forming bonds.
Does it really come down to only dopamine? No. Our brains are complex. They are responsible for essential functions of our day-to-day lives. This makes it very hard to conclude that chemicals are the only reason for our actions.
In choosing one reason we seek out bonds, it would be our most primitive functions. Survival for our families, friends and for those we’ve built bonds with.
- Our brains play a role in bonding
- The natural chemical dopamine affects how we behave and interact.
- Bonds are partly primal instinct, rewarding and addictive.
What about families where one(or both) of the parents don’t want to bond with children?
These situations are more common than one would think. Not everyone begins by wanting children.
I’ve known people who have not wanted children. Sometimes it’s fear of failure, passing on bad traits from abusive households, pain during pregnancy, a disorder they don’t want to pass on — the possibilities are endless.
Here’s some of the most common reasons:
- Not wanting to pass on the abuse they received in their household.
- Never wanted children in the first place.
- Lack enough skills to connect with others.
Not wanting to pass on abusive behaviors.
Surely you know the common belief that:
- Pedophiles were often abused themselves.
- Physically abusive parents were abused during their childhood.
- Rapists often got abused/raped when they were younger.
These situations can all be true. They’re not always the case but they’re possible.
Some people who received abusive treatment, never get counselling and allow themselves to become defined by their past, tend to reenact the behaviors.
If I had been abused in those ways, I certainly wouldn’t want to pass those behaviors off to my children. I doubt anyone would.
Have never wanted children.
This is rather simple. Not everyone will want children or feel up to the challenge.
The people I’ve known who share these views often have many reasons, but are closely tied in with abuse.
One women I have known for years grew up in a broken home. Her mother and father separated when she was young. Becoming a single mother makes raising children harder, and when that mother isn’t mentally fit, it becomes nearly impossible. Her reasons for not wanting kids is her lack of belief in her abilities of being a mother. She doesn’t want to repeat the cycle or be thrown to the curb by a man, left to become a single mother herself.
You know what? I don’t blame her. If someone doesn’t feel fit to be a parent, and they’re able to avoid pregnancy — that’s what should be done.
Lack enough skills to interact with people.
All three of these points are forks of one another. Lacking proper social interaction skills have a myriad of effects.
Everything boils down to one, simple but sometimes hard to accept fact:
Not everyone will want to have children. They each have their own reasons and they deserve respect.
Afterall, we have mentioned bonds are both negative and positive before.
What’ve we covered in our first week on the subject of bonding:
- Introduction to family bonds
- 5 bond strengthening tips
- 5 habits of forming bonds
Here’s what you have to look forward to next week(starting on Tuesday):
- 7 bonding pitfalls and their solutions.
- 7 benefits of bonding.
- Implementing bonds in practical situations.