minutes to do was literally taking hours because of debilitating
anxiety. Walking through this experience together took an
emotional toll on her and me. But in reality, this was fertile
ground for me to sit still in an uncomfortable place and learn
to tolerate both my own and her emotions through this
process. It was also instructive for a child who tends to stuff
and deny feelings to practice expressing them.
I am learning that the more mindful and honest that I
am about my feelings, the more I can give the same gift to my
children. When I rush to reassure my child when he is in
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
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