Empowered to Connect
By Brett Greenfield
The complexity of the human brain is utterly fascinating. The brain holds the mechanisms that allow humans to breathe, speak, move, think, and act in the world. It also contains our ability to understand our senses, emotions, and memories. The intricate movement of electricity, chemicals, and blood throughout our brains and bodies only adds to the depth of understanding required to understand the brain. Trying to know what is going on in our own heads, much less trying to learn what is going on in someone else’s is a difficult task. Our decisions, memories, thoughts, feelings, senses, and so much more filter through the complex web of our working brain. Despite its complexity, there are fundamental functions of the human brain that when understood, provide a depth of insight for understanding ourselves and others in a way that allows each person to be more understanding, empathetic, and compassionate to others.
From our earliest moments in life, our brains do some heavy lifting to ensure we get what we need to survive. When babies cry, they are using their voice to tell their caregivers they are hungry, tired, dirty, or maybe just need a little love and reassurance. Each and every time a baby cries and there is a loving caregiver present to meet their need the brain activates its complex systems that begin to form the foundations of trust in relationships, language, physical health, and other important functions. As children grow up and become teenagers and adults, these basic needs never go away, they simply get more complex along with their brains and bodies.
Unfortunately, many children do not have this same experience of getting their needs met. The brains of these children continue to develop, but the already complex systems required to function become confused, making it more difficult to function. The human brain is pretty good at knowing what it needs to do to survive. This is why the brain communicates the basics of food, sleep, cleanliness, and love from the beginning. Ideally, loving caregivers meet these needs and take up the responsibility for a child’s survival. When this cannot or does not happen, children take up the responsibility for their own survival. It is not easy to live in survival mode all the time. It is also not easy to live with someone else who is constantly in survival mode. This feeling of constantly being in survival mode is one that is far too familiar for many families. And many of these families find themselves asking, “What is going on here?” “What are we doing wrong?” “What are we supposed to do?” These are big, daunting, real life questions. There is certainly no easy answer to any of these questions, but there is hope.
It would take a lifetime to learn even a fraction of what is going on in every person’s brain, but there is no better time to start than now. MCH Family Outreach is pleased to once again be hosting the “Empowered to Connect” conference. This unique opportunity gives parents, professionals, caregivers, and community members the chance to learn more about how children develop and grow, and what to do to support this growth and learning. This information is beneficial for all children, and is imperative for children for whom life has not always been safe or stable. Raising a family can be challenging for everyone, and too many families feel they have to do it alone. Empowered to Connect is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your children surrounded by people willing to learn and grow together.
If you, your organization, or someone you know is interested in attending the Empowered to Connect Conference (April 7-8), click HERE for more information. Admission is FREE, so be sure to register by March 31st while there are still seats available!
Brett Greenfield is social worker in Waco, TX. He is a graduate of the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and currently serves as a Case Manager with MCH Family Outreach. He is passionate about working with families in the community and offering community education in trauma-informed care, attachment, and family relationships.
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