In an effort to make children happier in the moment (or our lives easier in the moment), or with the goal of teaching kids to handle their feelings more calmly, we teach children to push their emotions deep down until, eventually, they push them so far down they get lost inside. Not lost enough so that they don’t try to resurface, but deep enough so that we’re out of touch with them. Deep enough that they are these little nagging voices that come to back to us later in the form of tics, unhappiness, depression, not listening to our gut, neurosis, and/or….
Here a quote from Nancy Carlsson-Paige’s book, Taking Back Childhood.
“Ravi, six years old, was sad because his uncle, who had been visiting the family, was leaving after the baseball game. Ravi’s dad, in an effort to cheer him up, told his son that he could get a toy from one of the vendors outside after the game. Ravi got excited about what he would buy and kept talking about it throughout the game, and the sadness he had been feeling seemed to fade away. But where did it go?”
When my children were younger, I used to joke about how when I was in in the workforce, R&D stood for something completely different than it does now that I am a parent. It used to mean Research & Development. As a mom, I now used R&D to mean Redirect & Distract. It was a motto I lived by.
Redirect and Distract is common advice given to new parents. Only after a few years did I realize that while there is a place for parenting R&D, I was using it way too much and at a great cost.
I stopped, and I learned to love the tears because with the tears, children heal. These are not tears to be left alone, but tears to stay with and sit side by side with, as we help our children with and through their big feelings. By doing this, we show our children, with love and kindness, that they (and we) are not afraid of their feelings. We can handle them and move through them together, until we return again, to the sunshine.
Where does sad go for you?