As I came up a minute or so later, I could read the
distress on her face. Holding back tears, she said, “It’s gone.”
Someone a bit ahead of her in line had scored this treasured
item. I reached out to comfort her and with body language and
words, she pushed me away. My heart hurt for her as I felt the
big drop of disappointment alongside her. When she
emotionally pushed back, my immediate response was to just
walk away in my own rejected state, a pattern left over from
my attachment challenges. But as I took a few steps down the
hall, a still small voice whispered, “Don’t walk away. Give this
a little time.” I took a deep breath, whispered to her that I
would be waiting on a couch toward the end of the line, and
extended an invitation to please come see me after she made it
through the line. This small amount of time and space allowed
each of us to slightly settle our strong immediate emotional
responses to the situation.
Though this incident might seem small and relatively
insignificant from an adult viewpoint, it mattered greatly to my
daughter. It is always a challenge to stand by and respond in
healthy ways when our children face varying shades of
adversity. Some of us have a “go to” of dismissing or
disapproving of the feelings involved in such events and
somehow communicate to our children a “get over it, this is
not a big deal, you will be fine” message. Others of us tend to
want to shield and protect our children from such strong
feelings and tend to rush in and save our children from any and
all discomfort. To help our kids move toward healthy ways of
dealing with strong emotions requires something in the middle.
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