Advent Daily: Practical Strategies for Empowered Parenting
December 13, 2016
Day 13: Being Human
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to nurture, celebrate, and model the most basic quality that sets humans apart from all of God's creatures: emotional expression. While I would never argue with someone who says, "Hey! My dog has emotions!" Other living creatures, like plants and trees, very likely have emotions, too, as emotions are energy and energy flows through everything.
I do believe, however, that emotions are woven differently into the human make-up, and our emotions affect our decisions and behavior from moment to moment, so it is a little different.
This being so, it is crucial that we express our emotions effectively and appropriately. Give your self permission to have and express feelings and give your children permission, too. I realize that there are critics who say that we worry too much about people's feelings. Well, the pendulum is always swinging. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The notion of being too worried about emotions comes from decades of not permitting them at all. We need to strike a balance.
Having and expressing emotions effectively and appropriately is the key. It is an essential aspect of our humanity. It is our essence. We need to figure this out! To start, allow your self to be human in front of your children. In other words, let them see you cry when you are sad, let them hear you laugh when you are happy, and yes, it is okay for them to see you mad. The integral piece, though, is that there is conversation about your feelings and open resolution. For instance, children need to know why we are sad, or they will assume it is something they have done, and if we get angry, they will assume we are mad at them. Most importantly, if our emotions cause us to behave inappropriately, we need to apologize.
When we allow ourselves to be human in the presence of our children, we teach them valuable things that cannot be taught without modeling. We teach them that it is okay to feel. We teach them how to appropriately express emotions. We teach them empathy and compassion when we respond to their feelings and when we allow them to respond to ours. And, when our emotions cause us to misbehave and we have to apologize, we teach them that mistakes happen.
No more hiding in the bathroom to cry. If you fight in front your children, then make up in front of them, too. Make time to laugh and be silly together. Humanity depends on it!
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