If you have gone through the process of buying a house, you know it is both exhilarating and nerve wracking. When we got the call our offer on our first house was accepted, we were so excited. We were hugging, laughing and then out of nowhere, I started crying. It was involuntary, the tears just started rolling down my face. My husband was worried, what could possibly be wrong? Nothing was wrong, for me it was just a buildup of intense emotions finally releasing and letting go.
Too often we don’t allow that pure release. Before tears can flow freely, we put up our guard. We are taught at an early age that we need to “suck it up” or “put on our big girl pants”. In order to do this, we gloss over the feeling in the moment and get busy doing whatever is next. In more extreme circumstances we over eat, shop to much or drink to numb the pain. We try to ignore the feeling all together and move on. Somewhere along the line, it’s become taboo for us to show our emotions.
This mindset bleeds over into our parenting style. If your child is crying, how quick are we to tell them “it’s ok, you don’t have to cry,” instead of letting them take the time that they need to cry it out? We may start out by comforting them, but if the situation feels like it is going on too long, we feel like we need to “fix” it. Sometimes we do that by bribing “if you stop crying, then you can watch a video, have a cookie or special treat”. Sometimes, if we think they are over-reacting, we say “stop crying” and push them to move on (which often leads to more crying because they can’t figure out how to stop).
Emotions are energy. The word emotion comes from the Latin word “emotere”, which means energy in motion. Your body has physical reactions depending on the emotion. Happiness, laughter and joy are easy to express. Sadness, stress, disappointment and anger are more difficult and more likely to be suppressed. We must talk about them and to release them. If we don’t, they don’t go away, they simply simmer below the surface.
It’s never too soon to start talking about emotions with your kids. Having an open and honest dialogue after an emotional outburst can help both of you to understand what happened. It’s not only about your child’s outbursts, it could be talking through why you reacted the way you did and the other factors that were involved. And let’s face it, it may not always be that simple. We need to remind our kids, and ourselves, that feelings can be confusing and hard to understand and that’s ok. Those are the feelings we need to pay the most attention to, not the least. Talk about it. Write about it. Get it out in some way because until you do, you will carry it with you whether you realize it or not.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.