Lately, Peanut is being told that what she feels is incorrect, and as I wrote this I realized we are equally at fault. The fear, is that as she continues to grow and relate to herself, she won’t trust her feelings and emotions because she’s being told they are wrong.
I struggled with trusting my emotions for many years. I was in my twenties when I finally broke and accepted that feelings are never wrong. What can be wrong, is your actions you take based on your feelings. I do not want that hardship for her, so many regrets, so much heartache because you couldn’t trust yourself. If you don’t trust yourself, who will you ever trust? And if you can’t trust others, what life do you have? As humans our sole purpose is to connect with others. I am still struggling to fulfill my purpose, struggling to learn to trust in others, struggling daily to believe in my own instincts.
So how do you combat damage to your emotional health? Specifically, when the assailant is unaware, unmoved, or unconcerned with long-term effects? We’ve started to teach her what feelings are and how to identify them. We’ve also taken a hard look at how we respond to melt downs and tantrums and crying fits for “no reason”. Both of us are guilty of brushing it off, laughing, or worse telling her to buck up. We don’t stop to allow her to be angry. We aren’t patient with her tears that we see as futile. Children feel heavily, but often it comes out over a spilled juice or a paw print on a new sweater. And to us adults, having 30+ years on this planet suffering, learning, growing; we see these “epic moments” as silly and foolish to cry over. So we try to teach that, help the child learn that some things in this world are worth crying over, but spilled milk is not one of them. What is wrong with us?
To a child, spilled milk is their entire world. It’s everything in their view at that moment in time, and they’ve just ruined it. Spilled milk is a loss of control to a little girl who has no control over what’s going on with her. She has no say. No input in whose house she sleeps at that night. No choice that her parents don’t live together. So to her, she has her milk. She wants her milk. She’s going to drink her milk as slow or fast as she desires. And then the universe comes swooping in, and takes that choice away from her. How do you, the great all knowing adult, react when the universe spills your milk?
Let’s stop telling children their emotions are wrong for the situation. Let’s welcome and embrace those emotions, and start teaching them healthy ways to respond and accept their feelings. Being sensitive should be seen as a value to strive for in this world, and we could all use a little more patience.