It's OK to Be Sad ....

As a generation of parents, I think we’re really bad at just letting things be. We want to step in, control a situation, make it better and right. I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

I wonder what this is doing to our kids.

We’re in make-do mode here at our house at the moment as we renovate our main kitchen and living area. It’s dusty and cold. The food isn’t up to scratch and we are surrounded by general chaos. But guess what, we’re all happy and ok.

Sure, there have been complaints about there not being enough food or space or cutlery or TV, but we’re managing and we’re all learning lessons.

It’s really got me thinking about how we try to make everything good for our kids all the time. We don’t like them being upset or uncomfortable. We are the generation of parents who have banned sports days because children get upset when they don’t come first. We give all kids trophies and medals for participating rather than recognizing those who excel. Hey, we even put a prize in every layer of pass the parcel so no-one gets upset when they miss out.

I wonder what this is doing to our kids, whether we’re actually doing more harm than good. Sure, in the short term they’re happy, but what about when they’re older? What happens when things don’t go their way? What happens when people around them get sick or even die? What happens when they don’t get that job the first time or they break their leg or they don’t have enough money to buy the car/house/holiday they really want? How will they cope when they haven’t learned the skills to deal with situations that don’t turn out the way they hoped?

Now, I’m not advocating purposely upsetting children or making things really tough for them or telling them to “just suck it up” when something upsets them. But I am talking about not manipulating and manufacturing everything to prevent them from getting upset. Instead of removing them from situations that might make them sad or angry, we should let them have these experiences and be there for them to pick up the pieces with love and empathy. We need to teach them to talk about things that upset them and deal with the feelings that arise. We should be honest with them and let them fail. 

They need to learn lessons like “things only hurt for a little while” and “all things pass” and “you don’t have to win/succeed every time and you’ll still be ok”. They also need to learn that sadness is a part of life. There are powerful lessons in suffering, as hard as they are.

Again, I’m not saying we should make our kids suffer because that would be wrong. I’m just saying that maybe we shouldn’t shield our kids so much from the things that can make them angry or upset.Maybe we should just stand back at let things be. Accept life the way it is, for us and for our kids.

We help our children develop skills to do all sorts of things. Surely giving them the skills to cope with anything life can throw at them is one of the most wonderful things we can do.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree with everything you've said here. With our loving and steady support behind them, kids need to learn how to manage sadness, disappointment and grief - and when they get the chance, they often find very beautiful and creative ways to process stuff from which we, as adults, can learn a great deal. Alison.