One of the more challenging things I’ve faced as a parent is accepting that my child will have feelings or emotions that I don’t understand. Specifically because she wasn’t affording me the chance to understand them.
In recent years, I’ve been of the mindset that children should not be asked to stop crying or being upset. This is aimed at real viable emotions and not, manipulative ones.
By manipulative, I mean the “I’m crying because I want something irrational and you’re not giving in”.
By viable, I mean the “I’m crying because something I saw or experienced is upsetting me”.
When I know C is genuinely upset or when I’m in an iffy stage where I can’t gauge it, I tell her that it’s perfectly acceptable to cry. I ask her to let me know when she’s ready to talk about it.
It’s really important to me that she be allowed the same freedom I’m afforded in respect to emotions. It’s also important to me that those feelings be validated appropriately.
This weekend my mother-in-law was joking about gobbling up B’s cheeks. C became visibly upset and said, “I don’t want you to eat her. That my baby sister!”
She then followed it up with, “Nana, that hurt my feelings”.
Her statement startled us both. It was one if few times where she’s really advocated for herself in that way.
It gave us an opportunity to acknowledge that to her, the situation was not ok. It also gave us an opportunity to explain that nana was teasing. She was trying to be funny.
As important as it is to validate the feeling. It’s important to explain the situation and how it appeared to us. That way, in the future, she has the opportunity to assess the situation and say “hey, it’s just a joke”.
Yesterday she made a similar statement regarding my tone (she wanted to look in the fridge). It gave me the chance to acknowledge that the tone I used wasn’t okay. It wasn’t yelling but it was clipped like I was upset.
In reality, I was unnecessarily annoyed by the request. Nothing had changed in the fridge contents since she’d looked an hour prior to that.
So you see, it’s a learning opportunity in so many ways. One that I’m pretty grateful for.