Help me love him better

Ethan lost his toothWhen you’re sad, do your kids know it, or do you hide it from them?  Is it our job as parents to hold the painful emotions somewhere up on the top shelf where they can’t reach them and “put on a happy face” for them? I have always believed that it was, although I have failed from time to time, slipping into tears, pushing them away with “Mommy’s alright.  Let’s make cookies.” 

I need your wisdom today on how to keep your emotions in check when your children are around.  Do you have any tricks?  Those of you who know me know that I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve, which I suppose has been both a blessing and a curse in my life, as so many things are.  Now that I have other little psyches to be concerned about, I want to make sure that I’m not burdening them with the weight of grownup emotions too soon.  I want them to enjoy their childhoods, keep them as carefree as possible, and let them come to understand certain kinds of pain only when it’s necessary, if it’s ever necessary. 

It’s definitely not necessary yet. 

How do you protect your children?  When your heart aches, how do you keep their sensitive little spirits from sensing that?  And when they do sense something, do you dismiss them with “It’s nothing” or “There are things mommies have to worry about that little boys don’t have to, and this is one of those things.  Let’s read a book.”

Life is so messy, so imperfect, so not what we plan.  And so filled with love, especially for the children.  I write this blog on the day before Ethan’s 6th birthday, filled to overflowing with gratitude for him, remembering the day before his birth 6 years ago.  I have never been so humbled by another human being as I was – am – by Ethan.  He is a force of nature.

My constant prayer on this eve of his special day is – let me love him better.  Let me protect him and his little brother from the things I can, accept the things I cannot protect them from, and give me wisdom to know the difference.

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5 comments on “Help me love him better
  1. Cindie says:

    Amanda,

    I always sheltered by kids from my emotions. Not that I didn’t wear them on my sleeve, I did. But when it got really hard, and I needed a good cry, I would go downstairs to the bathroom, lock the door, get in the shower with all of my clothes on, curl in the corner and cry unabashedly, fully and wholly. For at least 15 minutes full crying for 15 minutes. I would be exhaused when I was done, spent of the sadness. What my kids saw after that was a tired mommy. Every mommy is tired aren’t we? They understand that emotion and don’t need to understand emotions that we ourselves don’t understand. It worked for me; it worked for my kids.

  2. Kim says:

    I would think it depends on the reason for your emotions. You do want your kids to know that you are a human being with feelings. And you want them to feel comfortable expressing emotions, so you need to set the example of how to express all the different emotions. But I’m sure you don’t want to go all out emotional on them, either.

  3. Varena Terrero says:

    Amanda, I have been influenced on both sides of the fence. A story/book called “Mama’s Bank Account” is a thoughtful look at how one mother dealt with the challenge of financial problems while raising her family. Very worthy points to consider. Somewhat on the other side, I have come to realize what “putting on a happy face” to children and entirely disallowing them into the truth of our pain or concerns can undermine our efforts to teach them to trust their sensitivities about others’ feelings. I think that we can do our children a disservice if, when they ask us, “Mommy, are you sad?”….we pretend otherwise “for their sakes” and assure them, “Oh, Mommy is just fine. Everything is OK.” By doing this, we end up teaching them to discount or totally dismiss their emotional/spiritual sensitivities to what is really going on. They learn to NOT trust their feelings or intuitions, the accuracy of their assessments. Someone has observed that kids are keen observers, but untrained (lousy) interpreters. It is our job as parents to teach them to interpret properly. It is risky to leave kids to make up the “rest of the story” when they are only privy to one part of it. That is why so many abused kids conclude it is their fault, or that it is their fault that mommy and daddy are divorcing or fighting or whatever.

  4. Sandy says:

    I don’t know why you think you should hide your sadness from your children. Children need to know that sadness exists in this world, but that we can overcome it. If you hide all your emotions from your children, when they are faced with those same emotions, they won’t recognize them and may not know how to deal with them. We teach by example. Show your children that being sad is okay, because being happy will return.

  5. Michelle says:

    I would be very careful with what I shared. I think childhood is precious and the only time that is filled with innocence and pure joy. It gets taken away soon enough…..but on the other hand, there are some things they need to know, just depends. I’d go with “do they “need” to know this? and take it from there. I’ve seen some parents just burden their children with their problems, so that the children end up “parenting” the parent….. so sad.

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