Letting Them Feel Emotions
Sometimes they need permission.
A friend of our 8-year-old boy was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It’s a huge change for the family. A lot of acclimating to the new normal.
About a week later, I learned that my son didn’t know if he was supposed to feel sad about it or not. There’s a lot of big, serious, and dramatic talk from grownups, but his little friend still seems the same, for the most part. That’s a little confusing.
So we talked about it.
He had a lot of questions about what was happening.
“He has to do it every day?” he asked, when told about checking his blood sugar and pricking his finger.
And we talked about how it was okay to feel sad, because it is a serious thing and means a big change. It was the death of the old normal.
But that we should also be thankful, because just 100 years ago, his friend wouldn’t be alive. And in a few months, the family would be better adjusted to the new circumstances, his friend would get a monitor and a pump and wouldn’t have to prick his finger all the time, and all of these big changes would eventually coalesce into a new normal.
But it was clear he needed that talk. He had no idea what to think. And why would he? It was all new.
Sometimes, kids need permission to feel something and not feel guilty about it. And sometimes that it’s ok not to feel something. My son was confused because everyone around him was sad but he didn’t feel sad and he didn’t really understand the implications. So sometimes, you need to act as a guide to the proper emotion.
This is one reason, for example, why the house of mourning is greater than the house of feasting. It provides these opportunities.
Foundation Father is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.