|Posted on 8 November, 2018 at 4:20|
I grew up around the belief that parents shouldn’t show their emotions in front of their Children. Don’t argue in front of children, don’t cry or show vulnerability in front of children, keep it together at all times. Discussions that weren’t child appropriate were supposed to be done away from the children.
These days, parents are expressing more and more in front of their children. They swear and scream, fight with their partner or yell at the other school Mums in front of the children and in some cases have complete emotional breakdowns in front of their children.
It’s virtually gone from one extreme to the other. In the almost 20 years alone that I’ve been parenting much has changed. Children are allowed to be more liberal with expressing their emotions. Somewhere along the way expressing no emotion turned in to expressing too much emotion. Unbelievably there are children who today swear and disrespect their parents.
The parenting beliefs are so conflicting. Should we express ourselves openly and honestly in front of the kids or should we stay quiet and pretend everything is ok in order not to burden the kids with adult issues. Where is the happy medium? Should we be able to cry in front of our kids?
There’s no such thing as the perfect parent but coming from someone who has experienced both extremes here’s my view. Not expressing emotions in front of your children gives them the false illusion that life is always going to be perfect and that they will never run into difficult emotions. For children growing up in this situation when an emotional situation comes their way they risk feeling as though it’s the end of the world for they lack the tools to be able to deal with and work through their emotions. On the other hand children being raised in a household with parents who feel free to have a complete emotional meltdown in front of their children don’t learn how to deal with their emotions appropriately at all. This can make them feel unsafe, anxious and overwhelmed, they may take emotional responsibility for the parent or think that this is how everyone expresses themselves. Social skills and empathy may become a serious problem either way.
If we were to take the best intentions from both of these extremes we may actually find an appropriate solution. While not expressing in front of our children can create a fallse sense of safety and stability within the child, it’s a sense of safety none-the-less and expressing our emotions can give children the chance to see that we are real humans with feelings. If we could find opportunities for our children to see us cry and feel but also process our emotions rationally in a safe way at the same time, we may actually be able to achieve success in this area. Showing children that we feel the emotions that we are feeling but that it’s ok to feel them, we don’t become consumed by them and still have full control over our emotions can give a child some great life skills in future.
In conclusion, by all means cry and express in front of your children but offer them a rational explanation as to why you are processing your emotions the way you are. Show them how to work through their emotions in a way where they don’t feel suppressed but feel acknowledged at the same time. Be the example you wish to see in them. You can’t go yelling at your kids and show lack of control over your emotions then expect your child not to go and treat others the same way. Likewise you can’t go silent and emotionless in front of your kids if you want them to feel free or safe enough to come to you when they are NOT ok in future.