Twenty years ago, when we bought our little farmhouse, we added a back porch on the south side. After a few years, we decided to close it in and build an addition. But the foundation was never designed to hold the structural weight. We went ahead anyway. Over the years, we saw the cost of our decision. The foundation shifted with the passing of each season. Over time, the floor sagged, the doors would not close properly. The walls and ceilings cracked. This summer we decided to finally address the problem. We brought in a back hoe and dug six feet to lay down the proper foundational support that was lacking from the start. This work on our home made me think about how this is like the Circle of Security. The needs on the Circle are like the footings that support the foundation of a home. Children need relationship from the first moment of life. And what comes first builds the foundation for all that comes later in life.
As each of the needs are met, the foundation is laid for secure relationship. Children come into the world asking for their needs to be met on every part of the Circle, primed for a relationship with another that will meet the need. A child whose needs on the Circle go unmet is likely to struggle to get the need met in the growing relationship with his/her parents. The foundation is laid, and the child grows up to believe that these needs are essentially unmeetable in relationships with others. If we think about it, we all have memories of needs that have gone unmet. This is the human condition. We are all waiting to be met. Needs our parents couldn’t meet live on in our emotional world. And we pass these on to our children. It just makes sense. If we learned that a particular need on the Circle is unmeetable, then it is out of the love of our child that we steer clear of that need. But here’s the good news. Just like our home, we can go back and reinforce the foundation. Regardless of our childhood history, it’s never too late. We can repair. With growing understanding of what it means to be in relationship, we can identify where we struggle with particular needs on the circle, and then we can work to find caring ways to meet those needs. The same is true for our children. When parents change the way they respond to their child’s needs for care and confidence, a struggling parent/child relationship can be transformed. It’s never too late.