“Tribes over time give kids the best chance to find a healthy place to belong.” – Reggie Joiner
A Place To Belong
Where do you belong? Where do you feel at home? I hope you can answer that question with places like your house, your church, and maybe even something crazy like your workplace or your in-law’s.
It is trite but true that all of us need a place to belong. Not belonging is uncomfortable at best and devastating at worst.
Sociology uses the term “social capital” to describe the reciprocal relationship network that enables a community to function. I propose that children need a special kind of social capital in order to become healthy adults.
They need people in their lives who are invested in them without expectation of anything in return. This is what teaches them to eventually care for themselves and one day care for others.
Similar to financial capital, investing in kids requires consistent, small (and sometimes large) deposits over time long before any dividends are realized.
Another way of saying this is that every kid needs a tribe over time.
Think about the characteristics of a tribe. They have a common language, traditions and rituals, values and beliefs, and a history. A family is one of the most foundational tribes in a child’s life.
A healthy family might use language like “do-over’s” and “I’m sorry” and “I love you no matter what.” They might have rituals like Pizza Fridays and opening one present on Christmas Eve.
They might hold values about the inherent worth of every member. They might have a history, or they might be making one.
Making history, and absorbing someone into a tribe, takes time. It takes investment in social capital.
Hope & Home
Hope & Home is an investor in social capital. We find and support the most transformational tribes of our community: families.
In the process, Hope & Home has become a tribe in and of itself, with a unique culture, clear beliefs, and beloved traditions. Foster kids who are placed here will hopefully find a tribe in their foster family, whether that is for a short or a long time.
We also hope they will find a tribe in the community of Hope & Home where they can enjoy rituals like Zoondoogles and The Teddy Bear Clinic. These kids need a community where those around them believe that behavior communicates needs, where they hear language like, “How can I help you regulate?”, and where they can experience the value of being valued.
Where they can belong before they behave. With a tribe. Over time.
Prepare For Battle
One last word about tribes. They often do battle together.
In foster care it is tempting to confuse who the enemy is. We imagine we are at war with abusers, neglectors, professionals, the judicial system, and sometimes even each other.
Let’s get clear about the real enemy here: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
As a foster parent, staff member, community partner, or financial supporter joining the tribe of Hope & Home, prepare yourself for battle against darkness, fought with weapons of discernment, education, self-control, and prayer. And welcome to the tribe.