"It's okay to be sad" is a line from my song "You Are Amazing", which is a list of positive affirmations and phrases I want ingrained in my children's minds and hearts.
I included it because our kids need to know that "It's okay to be sad". For too long our culture has made showing our difficult emotions a bad thing, especially for kids and ESPECIALLY for boys.
ALL THE TIME I hear parents say:
"It was nothing."
And I think we need to change this language. Here's why:
Crying is HEALTHY and NECESSARY
I'm sure that no harm is intended when parents say these words. We're often just repeating what was said to us as children, and what we hear other parents saying. Sometimes we just don't know what else to say. We want our kids to feel better, and we want the parents around us to think we've got everything under control.
We think crying and tantrums need to be fixed, and need to be stopped. But the very act of crying and tantrumming IS the most natural and effective "fix" there is! Crying, yelling, and moving our bodies helps the emotions to MOVE. The very word is e-MOTION. The emotions need to move out of our bodies, and this is done by crying and sometimes throwing a fit.
Suppressed emotions = not healthy
We look around at the world and see an epidemic of violence, especially from men. To me this points to the fact that in our culture we don't allow boys to express their emotions. Their feelings get buried, they fester, and they come back in unhealthy, destructive ways: in violence, illness, self-loathing, and hatred. This lack of emotional expression can cause unthinkable damage to others. Suppressing emotion is a BIG PROBLEM, especially for boys, and it is time for a change.
Take it from Mr. Rogers
Mr. Rogers said: "People have said, 'Don't cry' to other people for years and years, and all it has ever meant is, 'I'm too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don't cry.' I'd rather have them say, 'Go ahead and cry. I'm here to be with you.'"
I have two little boys and I want them to KNOW deep down in their hearts that it's OKAY to be sad. It's OKAY to cry. Does crying hurt anyone else? No. It is our body's natural way of letting emotions flow. It's one of the beautiful ways humans can heal.
So what can we say instead of "Don't cry"?
I use these:
"I know it's hard."
"I'm here for you."
"I love you."
"It's okay to be sad."
"I'm sorry that hurts."
"I'm sorry you have to go through this."
Isn't that what you'd want someone to say to you?
My song "You Are Amazing" is a tool you can use in your family to encourage crying, self love, self esteem, and self confidence. Lyrics are so easy to memorize because we listen to songs over and over. When we memorize words, we internalize them, and we believe them.
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