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A collection of stories, insights, pain and laughter that details our lives, our experiences as women and mothers and the wisdom that comes out of that.

Should you let your kids see you cry?

Bridget Wood

This was the headline that caught my eye in a weekend magazine. Thankfully the author recognised the value of expressing emotions, though one of her friends believes it's the mother's role to project an image of being 'bulletproof' to her kids.

I can't help wondering what is driving this belief. How is this an authentic human experience worth modelling for a child? Emotions are energy in motion - motion that is seeking expression, not repression.

And yet 95% of us grew up with the notion that only some expressions are 'acceptable'. And so we bury those feelings. Hence why this is a headline. 

Perhaps, we are worried that our kids will feel unsafe if we seem unable to 'keep it together', but I would offer that it's a beautiful pathway into modelling how to healthily express sadness, pain, fear and many of the difficult human emotions that we're rarely gifted the framework to understand ourselves. 

I was speaking with my mother recently about her experiences growing up, and she said 'feelings' were definitely never discussed. The youngest of 12, my mum was largely raised by her siblings, her widowed mother focussed on running the family business in order to feed, clothe and educate the children. I doubt many saw her cry when her husband died, such was 'the way' of the stoic women in my family. 

I have enormous reverence for this strong, determined woman, yet I want to know more; how did she really feel? Why couldn't the kids see her crumble? Isn't it okay to feel it all & then work on a plan of action?

The truth is, most of us would rather break a bone than plunge into the deep emotional pain that we have expertly buried deep within us. But the body keeps the score, and it's talking to us constantly, whispering, and sometimes, yelling, in order to bring us back into alignment with our authentic selves.

And so the first step is simply awareness. When you feel tears spring up in your eyes, what's your reaction? Do you try and wipe them away and 'pull yourself together' or do you create space for them to be felt and listened to?

What's sort of language do you use with yourself when you're sad or crying? Is it coloured in compassion, or judgement? 

When we can be with our own emotions, and not try to hide them; just ride their wave, we give our children permission to lean into the discomfort and allow the expression within themselves, and others, too. It's a key tenet in the development of empathy.

If we consider that repressed emotions can also manifest in illness and disease, it's also a wise and cathartic practice to move our emotions, rather than stifle them. 

Our tears and big feelings are a feedback from our psyche to compel us to dig deeper and understand the wisdom that's waiting for us on the other side. They are also a function of stress release, a biologically imperative process to facilitate healing. 

So grab the tissues. Feel the feelings. And if the feelings are overwhelming or you keep getting stuck in a pattern - join us in the Loathing To Loving Program and learn a toolkit to find the wisdom in your challenges, get clear on your own unique values that are driving you every day, and awaken and nourish more of who you are. 

Bridget Wood is Co-Founder of Nourishing The Mother and a lover of life and connecting people to themselves through wisdom, introspection and quality questions. Bridget is also the Director and Events Manager of Suburban Sandcastles. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the bigger picture of human behaviour and how the world works, Bridget is on an inspired path to learn more deeply who we are beyond the limitations that we, and our society and culture, place upon upon us.