dear life

Setting kids up for life is showing them human

dear lifeThis being a human being is really a tricky thing. And if we can teach this to kids we are truly preparing them for life.  And how do we teach this? By showing them our own humanness.

We all suffer with the emotions that are at the core of being human.  The most powerful thing we can do for our children is to react to their difficult emotions without guilt and shame.  Not easy though as when our children mirror difficult emotions to us (anger, frustration, anxiety), it often triggers an emotional reaction in us of something similar.

But it’s not impossible to react with empathy, sympathy and a deep ability to tolerate their emotional pain. And this starts with us learning and practicing how to be ok with our difficult emotions.  Like anything this takes courage, strength and commitment.

I cried recently in front of my kids.  I mean I wept. I was so stressed in life.  It was the first time they’ve seen me cry like that. And they cuddled me. Of course shame was lurking in the background when I was doing this but when I surrendered to the emotion of the moment it brought us together. We had a massive hug – they showed me it’s ok to not be ok.

We hear this expression “it’s ok to not be ok” so much, but reality for children is that it rarely is.  Being not ok for them is screaming, shouting, throwing and sometimes getting aggressive. And we can so quickly punish them for this.  Really they are telling us they’re not ok in the best way they can.  And it’s not their fault, it’s the way we have all been designed.

We get frustrated, angry, sad, lonely, depressed, feel left out, anxious, scream, shout and roar.  A 6 ½ yr old showed me such profound compassion, we can show that to children too.  Of course it’s not easy and this is what children need to know and see. It’s not easy but we are deeply committed to cultivating and practicing it. With them, not on them. 

Am I ok with sometimes not being ok?  Shame says no, compassion understands and says yes.  Let’s cultivate the compassion part and respond to children with this too.

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