distress, this sends a message that I can’t tolerate whatever is
being expressed. My desire to dismiss emotions with a quick
“you’ll be fine” teaches my child that feelings are not
acceptable. Through the heart and eyes of a child, such a
response can be translated into “I am not acceptable.”
Repeating this over and over will lead to children who become
adults that deny, repress, and shove aside strong feelings.
There is a sweet spot between dismissing and over
engaging with our children in times of distress. We each bring
our own story and challenges to the table of guiding our
children through emotional turmoil. In my early days of waking
up to my role in the emotional family dynamic, my personal
comfort zone was stretched.
When someone I love expresses a disappointment,
frustration, or failing, often my initial response is to get the
mental wheels turning on what exactly I can offer to “fix” the
problem. What words of wisdom or advice can I come up with
to help them come to a more peaceful place? Like some kind
of savior or super hero, how can I swoop in and make it all
better? I respond this way as a result of my particular
attachment challenges, assuming that no one else is going to
address a problem if I don’t take charge.
In reality, this “I must fix it” response comes from a
place where my own anxiety around normal human emotional
expression rises. It sometimes reveals a selfish focus on how I
may appear as mom/wife/person, and other times exposes a
limited tolerance for seeing someone I love in an
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