I don’t want my child to ever feel . . .
. . . bullied.
. . . unloved.
. . . like they have to ______.
. . . ugly.
. . . not good enough to ______.
. . . left out.
. . . sexualized.
. . . objectified.
. . . scared.
. . . bad about his/her body.
. . . _________.
Fill in that blank with whatever you don’t want your child to ever feel. You know that thing that you are willing to start foundations over and blog about and go to the principal over. You know that thing that makes your guts hurt when you contemplate the idea of them feeling that. Most likely, it’s that thing that you felt and didn’t want to feel, and then blamed your parents for not “making” you feel something different.
Okay, so here’s what you do to ensure that your kid never feels that:
. . . sorry.
Take a deep breath and accept that this—preventing your child from experiencing feelings and having experiences—is not your job. It’s not even in your power, whether you believe it to be your job or not.
Take another deep breath and accept that your phenomenal parental powers do not extend into one sacred place—your child’s feelings.
Instead, we can . . .
. . . listen to their feelings.
. . . validate their feelings.
. . . suggest that their feelings are not the only available feeling-choice they could be making.
. . . help them process and navigate their feelings.
. . . attempt to give them tools to handle their feelings.
. . . hold them responsible for their behavior in the midst of their feelings, thereby helping them to learn to have power over their feelings.
. . . model being in control of and handling our own feelings in the face of whatever it is we’re experiencing.
It might suck to be this powerless over our children, who we love so much. It may hurt to watch them hurt. It may feel like there is something we should be able to do. But, our powers are limited.
Every person, whether two or 90 has to govern their own internal experience. It’s part of being human.
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