Lessons from the Albatross

The United States has the largest number of children being raised in single parent households. In some communities, 64% of children are unlikely to experience a healthy marriage or relationship in their own homes. For some the word “family” connects them with neglect or trauma. Father absence is a huge challenge. Since healthy families are essential to healthy communities, this is a national conversation that needs to happen. 

The following key components of healthy relationships and family formation can be gleaned from the albatross. 

BEING SELECTIVE: The albatross is selective about choosing a lifetime mate. The male works hard to build a nest to attract the female. Courtship rituals often take years, working to get everything right. Courtship for the albatross can be a long process. 

TRANSLATION FOR YOUTH: Youth shouldn’t waste their time and energy on just anyone. Critical courtship and dating skills for humans include an understanding of secure attachment styles and the importance of refraining from sexual activity in preparation for marriage. New studies highlight that the multiple sexual partners prior to committed love and marriage contribute to emotional hurt, separation and divorce.  

DYNAMIC SOARING: Albatross fly farther than all other birds because they use dynamic soaring. This strategy fosters efficiency without losing energy-they don’t even have to flap their enormous wings. They utilize forward momentum, allowing them to gain altitude to fly extraordinary distances. 

TRANSLATION FOR YOUTH: For youth from every economic and social background, the Success Sequence provides altitude and forward momentum by empowering them to follow specific steps to reduce risk, giving them a 97 percent chance of avoiding poverty. Dynamic soaring for youth allows them to reach the benchmarks of graduating from school, getting a full-time job and marrying before having children.

TIME AND TALKING EQUALS TRUST: Selective albatross courtship ritual, strategies that are practiced over time, build strong, lifetime bonds. Albatrosses look for a mate to share the work of raising their young and to take turns with parenting chores. Albatross parents are dedicated, loyal, and devoted to nurturing the next generation through provision of food and security to protect the precious egg that they must nurture to young adulthood. 

TRANSLATION FOR YOUTH: The Success Sequence helps youth slow down and make wise choices. It helps prepare them to be selective when choosing a partner, thus reaching the final benchmark of marriage before having children. When adolescents take personal responsibility for their lives, they share in the belief that most of their time during adolescence should focus on meeting individual and academic goals and on identifying and developing sparks of passion based on individual strengths.

Why is marriage not talked about as a future life goal? I was in one high school last year and the principal told me his students did not want to marry. I asked him how he knew that, and he said he just knew. When I suggested we go ask them, he became agitated. Let’s not make assumptions about what young people want. Let’s ask them. Having a lifetime partner who is dedicated to your health and well-being is a human need. Let’s pay attention to the Albatross. We might learn something about attachment and legacy. joneen@myrelationshipcenter.org