The Need To Be Part Of A Tribe

This blog post was written by Tim Cusack, public speaker, trainer, and corporate entertainer

I had just finished performing an assembly for 400 first through sixth graders at an elementary school in northern Michigan. It was in a small rural town with the majority of the kids coming from poor, single parent homes.

My ritual at the time was to perform a story-theater show for the kids, then go into the classroom, and teach them how to perform their own stories. I started every workshop with this question: “What did you see me do, that you want to know how to do?”  This day in a 2nd grade classroom, I got the typical questions like: “How did you talk like a bear?” “How did you make things look like they’re really there?” (Referring to my miming ability). Then a little boy in the middle of the classroom shot his arm into the air, grabbing my attention. It appeared he had just thought of a really good question. I pointed at him and said, “Yes, what do you want to know how to do?”

Little boy, “Will you be my Dad?”

Me, in shock, not knowing if I heard him correctly, “What did you say?”

Little boy, “Will you be my Dad?”

The voice in my head, “Oh, I did hear him correctly!…Shoot!”

At this point all the kids are now looking at me with intense, inquisitive anticipation of my answer. To the kids, this seemed like a releasable question to ask, and they certainly deserved an answer.

The kids’ eyes were on me, waiting for my response.  I was desperately searching for an answer that would not embarrass the boy or me. I needed an answer that was honest, genuine, and somehow would satisfy his question without hurting his little heart.  Because, I knew the real answer, and it was not what he wanted to hear.

Suddenly, the answer hits me as if coming from beyond me. It came out my mouth, faster than I expected. I said, “You know, you seem like a really great young man.  I would be lucky to be your Dad.  Anyone would be lucky to be your Dad, but I’m married and live far away from here, so it would be hard for me to be your Dad.  If I could, I would be your Dad.”(Wow, where did that come from?)

The little boy then looked around the classroom with a great big smile that said, “Yep, this guy would like to be my Dad.  He even said he’d be lucky to be my Dad.”

The whole classroom seemed to be satisfied and we could all move on. The voice in my head murmured, “Thank you God, for such a quick, appropriate and compassionate answer.”

This little boy, without knowing, was trying to fulfill his basic brain needs of: belonging, connecting, safety, and purpose. He saw in me a way of meeting these needs. He imagined that we would have fun together. I would love him. I would keep him safe. We would be connected as father son, and he would have an even greater reason to live and be happy.

Here’s the deal, these elemental “neuro needs” will be met with or without your conscious mind. If you don’t get these basic needs met with your family, then your brain will fulfill these needs in other, sometimes very unhealthy ways like: at the bar, a drug addiction, a gang, a radicalized group.

If you have a family owned business that is healthy and functioning well, you are creating an opportunity for others to belong, to connect, to feel safe, and to have a purpose in life by working for your family. You are giving employees something we all desire, a tribe to call our own.

Read more about how REGENERATION can help solve conflict and heal the relationships in your family.

Follow Us for Updates