Try this- read this to yourself (or out loud…interesting at work)
I want my kids to feel (insert feeling) mad- sad- worried- abandoned- frightened- bored- embarrassed disappointed- insecure- foolish- guilty- lonely- ashamed- rejected- tense
You ok with that? These are the feelings that we have decided are “negative” feelings… obviously these are the uncomfortable ones. The rules of the game for giving your kids emotional resilience and a deep emotional world? You gotta take the good with the bad. You cannot cut off from some without cutting off from all. You don’t have to be mean but it is not your job to protect your kids from feelings. How can you teach them resilience without difficulties?
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” (Wainwright)
Maybe there is no such thing as bad feelings, only unsuitable coping skills? Unsuitable behaviors? Feelings aren’t bad or wrong or irrational or too intense or out of control. Feelings show us things and give us perspective and teach us lessons. They test and deepen our connections. They give us openings for others to step in. They offer us empathy and show us our humanity.
You are going to piss off your kids. You are going to hurt your partner. You are going to disappoint everyone in your life at some point, likely at some point this week. You are going to get angry.
Being 3 is hard because you spend a whole year dancing in emotional regulation and trying to get their feelings, their thoughts and their behaviors to work in some manageable pattern.
Being a pre-teen is hard because just when you get your feelings, thoughts and behaviors in sync, your brain flips, hormones arrive and all bets are off.
Being married is hard because finally recovering from your teen years, creating some new grown up emotional regulation goes out the window when you bind your moods with the moods of your partner. You start all over, learning how your feelings impact them, their feelings impact you. Boundaries that seemed clear are a mess now.
Being a parent is hard because you get to start the whole process over from the beginning. You get to find out all your rough spots and limits and find out where you missed some lessons and find buttons you never knew you had. All while pretending to be a wise grown up who knows what they’re doing.
Maybe we can play Feeling Bingo- each time you feel one, you get a star. Each time you see the people you love feel one, you also get a star. OMG! I just Googled it… there is such a thing- look.
This week notice. The question is “what should I do?” If the answer is followed by “…but they will be *FEELING WORD*” it might be time to be brave and go for the feeling. Step in. Do the thing you know you should do. Bring on all the feelings. Parenting and marriage give us great opportunities to dance in the rain and tackle the storms of big feelings. We’re all in this together- Remedial Emotional Education 101.