Imagine you’re watching a child struggle at the playground. Tears start to fall as his big sister pushes in front of him. His mom pulls the phone away from her mouth to tell him to stop crying right now, that she’s “not raising no crybaby.”
What she doesn’t know is that crying is a release of tension. It’s a letting go of what isn’t working anyway. It helps the body relax and can be soothing.
This little guy was probably tired and spent from a hard eight to three at school, where he had to spend the whole day being tough and brave. He had to regulate his emotions minute after stressful minute to fit in.
Now he thinks he’s safe with his mom and sis and he can let loose. But he’s met with shame instead. Now he thinks he’s not good enough because he’s crying. His mom withdraws love. He’s not accepted when he’s in this state of finding relief. He’s not acceptable.
What do you think he learns from that encounter?
I was in this situation recently. While trying to enjoy my weight-loss-inducing whopper and cheese, my chews are interrupted by this rant. I have an internal struggle about what to say or do, when my daughter put her fish down and locked eyes on the mom’s contorted face. We obviously never talk like that in our house. I quickly knew what was important for me at that moment was for HER to know those messages were WRONG before she internalized them.
I told her (loudly perhaps) that the little boy was having a hard time and that it is ALWAYS ok to cry. “Crying is healthy and normal. He needs a hug. She doesn’t know what she’s saying.”
Because she doesn’t. She’s doing what she was shown. She’s still unconscious, or not aware enough, to make a better choice.
But you are.