We all know that children can be the most expressive and authentic age group of our species when it comes to their feelings. The less amount of time that they’ve been on this planet, the more likely it is that they will not hesitate to wale out feelings of hunger, fear, loneliness, giggle freely in delight, and belly laugh at humor. And if you’re fortunate, you’ve experienced at least one painfully honest opinion from a three year old! Though we can probably all agree that maturation in the expression of emotions does help with our ability to function in society and relate to others, have we in an effort to please others taught our children that their feelings are not accurate? Have we, in the name of good manners, created a belief in our children that other’s feelings are more important than their own? Have we sacrificed our deepest connection with life to the false god of social conditioning? Ask yourself these questions:
Do I unknowingly tell my child how they should feel?
“Bobby, don’t cry. You’re ok.”
“Sarah, you should be thankful you have to take a nap, even if you don’t want to.”
Why is it important to allow my child to feel and experience their own feelings?
Can I allow my child to learn from their feelings even if they are uncomfortable?
Am I willing to truely connect with my child in a way that foster’s their individuality?
Feelings are part of our essential nature. They are a survival tool, a guage, a motivator of experience. We “do” things simply for the experience of the feeling we get. So why do we monitor and try to control our children’s feelings? One reason is that we are hard wired to respond to the sound of a crying child for the survival of the species. Another reason is to teach them to fit into society, another survival tactic. But somewhere along the way survival became confused with likability, and this is where individuality has been suppressed. Now children are medicated specifically to repress their feelings and help them conform to the group. They are crying out for the opportunity for authentic human expression and we tell them if they show what they feel and it does not meet the criteria for our logically constructed social paradigm, something is innately wrong with them on a functional level. This is where feelings become long term emotions that reside in the body until they manifest later in life as depression, anxiety, addiction, compulsion, and mental illness.
So how do we allow our children to experience their own feelings? First we realize that it is not our job as parents to fix their feelings. This is extremely challenging to accept for a parent who loves their child and whose own feelings are hurt when they witness their child in discomfort. But feelings are never broken. They exist as a guide to processing situations. If they aren’t allowed to exist and run their course in a natural way they will be stored in the body for future processing. So the new goal for the parent becomes assistance in processing the child’s feelings.
Your child comes to the table for breakfast and says, “I’m tired. I don’t want to go to school.” Though a common reaction would be to tell the child your sorry but they must go to school, a way to help them process this everyday feeling would be first to acknowledge the feeling.
“Hmmm, yeah….I understand.” This in no way implies that the child is wrong for feeling tired or that feeling tired is good or bad. It is just being tired. Tired is not wrong. Acknowledging the feeling doesn’t mean you are giving in, or that you are encouraging your child to miss school. Actually, the opposite is true. You are acknowledging that it’s ok to feel tired and not want to go to school when the choice is to do it anyway because school is of value to you.
The next step is to accept the feeling. This is being present with the child in a nonreactive state as a support. This step is for the parent more than the child. It is very important to realize that you will not help your child by adopting their feelings. Empathy and compassion are wonderful qualities but they do not imply that you take on the feelings of your child. When you accept what your child is going through in your own emotional body without creating a story in your mind about how they should feel, you can become fully capable of being present with them. They sense this acceptance within you and it helps them accept their feelings instead of resist them. They can also see that their feelings do not cause your feelings. This is extremely important in teaching them sovereignty.
Finally, allowing your child to feel the feeling through without suppressing it will help them to follow the natural process of using their feelings as a guide. Maybe they will stand up and stretch as a way of getting their blood flowing. They may choose to go to bed earlier the next night. Their own faculties will adjust and align to modify the situation to be a better feeling one. If this does not happen after several days, then you can suggest some changes. But when we are allowed to use our feelings as they are naturally designed things fall into place.
We have all been conditioned to believe that pain is wrong, but though it is hard to handle sometimes, it is full of valuable information that can lead to our growth and expansion. If you can acknowledge, accept, and allow your child’s pain from a place of pure presence, then you will see that their essential needs are being revealed. It is the most useful place a parent can serve their child. A place of pure listening, pure presence, and pure action minus reactivity or conditioning becomes a field of awareness that is healthy, supportive, and healing.
Allowing someone you love to be who they are is one of the highest vibrational states of being. In this space you are merging with them and you are both expanding through mutual experience. This is a place where all are accepted and all of life is acceptable.