A Secure Base to Expand Possibilities

Roots and Wings

Expanding possibilities is part of a broader relationship that includes expressing care and providing support. As illustrated by this diagram, the combination provides a secure base from which young people can explore who they are and develop the autonomy they need for life.1

Sometimes, though, things don’t go well when a child tries new things. The new activity doesn't go well and the young person experiences disappointment. In those cases, a family can be a safe haven of care and support to help the child regroup and try something else.

Providing a secure base from which to explore the world calls on parents to be encouraging, be available, and not interfere as our kids try new things to spread their wings. Providing a safe haven when things don’t go well requires us to be available, be reassuring, and provide comfort.

Of course, we provide the secure base and safe haven in different ways as kids grow up, depending on their specific circumstances.

Next Steps

  • Take the quiz to explore the ways you expand possibilities in your family.
  • Learn about what to do if you're uneasy about expanding possibilities.

Research Source

1. Feeney, B. C., & Thrush, R. L. (2010). Relationship influences on exploration in adulthood: The characteristics and function of a secure base. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(1): 57–76. doi:10.1037/a0016961.