Something I’ve been really working on with our kids is this: trying not to suppress or demonize any feelings that they experience. It’s something I never noticed in my behavior until recently. But, now that I’m making an effort to be conscious of it, I see it in my words so much.
And, something that Ben and I have worked on reminding ourselves is that so much of what we say and do will subconsciously stick with our children until they are, even, our age some day. We are both becoming aware of childhood experiences and interactions that are just now making sense to us with how they’ve manifested into fears, insecurities, and behavior patterns in our adult lifestyles.
So, welcoming and accessing every emotion, both the feel good and feel “bad” ones, that rushes into us is something that has quickly jumped to the forefront of my parenting priorities.
How many times a day do we say to our children, our friends, and ourselves phrases like “don’t get upset about that”, “don’t be scared of that”, and “don’t think like that”?
Even when the thoughts are minor and seemingly insignificant, they lay the framework for a behavior pattern that will be the default when something bigger, more challenging does arise. It’s not like we have the ability to suppress feelings on a daily basis, and then are suddenly finally able to face those fears, for example, when a “real” conflict arises. We must put in the work, the conscious training, every day so that it becomes our new norm…our automatic response to triggers.
I am very careful now to physically hold our kids, let them know I am here to “feel” the emotions with them, talk about why they’re surfacing the way they are, and finally how to use those feelings to guide them as a more useful tool towards growth the next time something similar happens.
And, as with all lessons we try to teach our children, we find that they are even more applicable to us, as adults, who like to *think* we know more than our children do 😉