Parenting is no joke and I sometimes find myself getting caught up in the emotions of my own kids. When they feel sad, I tend to take on that sadness, too. When they are excited and happy for life, I also carry that energy. Perhaps this is one of those parenting things, or perhaps it is because I’m an empath. Whatever the reason, I do know it is important to shift these daily feelings so that my kids are picking up on my energy every day.
I can make a choice each day to be positive, loving, and filled with heart, or I can choose to sit in the constant turbulence of these times, projecting feelings of uncertainty and anxiety onto my kids. I’m not saying that we need to be happy and joy-filled every moment of the day because that, honestly, sounds exhausting. Instead, when we fill our hearts with the love with have for our kids, the smell of the cinnamon and oatmeal simmering, the beautiful song of the oriole bird from our outside feeder, then we shift the way we show up every day. And, this is very hard work for parents, because life does get tough, there are struggles, and we do feel all of our emotions.
In fact, we do carry the rainbow of emotions with us each day. Whether we choose to show these emotions to our world – or shove them down with a bar of dark chocolate, zone out in front of the TV, or open a bottle of our favorite libation, then we are actually giving ourselves a false sense of our own feelings. And, as you already know, when we do this we are also showing up to our world in an unauthentic way.
Let’s go a little deeper here. From my personal journey as a parent, I know that when I constantly think about my to-do list, which right now consists of getting my grass cut, finishing the trim that frames my bedroom door, nourish my kids with healthy foods (even though they still indulge frequently into sweets) and work, hard, really hard so I can provide the life that my kids and I deserve. And all of this causes stress, which leads to me feeling anxious and overwhelmed. While I’m getting vulnerable with you, I’m also sharing with you the very root of why my own kids pick up feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. My own children learn from me. They learn that when something is done or the list is too big, that I worry about it. They learn this and then apply it to their own daily doings and existence.
It’s easy to find that bar of dark chocolate, again, and indulge in the richness and chase away those feelings. It is hard to admit my own emotional energy is deeply connected to my family’s energy. However, in doing so, I am taking a step into my emotional wellbeing – and also modeling for my kids what this feels like. And, let me tell you, it feels like a vibrant, warm light. It feels like a million small jelly bubbles surrounding your body, cushioning your every movement. It feels like the life I want my own kids to experience as they grow into teens (aghast!) and eventually into adults.
You may be saying, “Okay, Amanda, I get it. Now what?” Here are some of the strategies I use to support my kiddos (and me):
- When I feel something, whether it be sad, happy, or calm, I voice this to my kids. I say something like, “Right now, I am feeling calm because I just finished meditating,” or, “I am feeling sad right now because I miss seeing my friends in Seattle” (ladies, you know who you are!).
- Avoid phrases such as, “You shouldn’t feel angry, jealous, sad, etc. right now.” Emotions are real and part of the rainbow we carry with us each day. Honor what your child is feeling and offer them ways to cope with that feeling. I work really closely with my child’s psychologist to understand what these strategies might be. Some of the things that work for my kiddos are going to their calm corners (small areas in our house that are set up with coloring, books, comfy pillows, low lighting) so they can decompress and work through their emotions.
- Imagine what it might feel like to be a child in today’s world. While their feelings about a broken toy or a missing stuffed animal may seem trite in our big, chaotic worlds, it is your child’s own world and this is what they know to be true. Honor this.
- Don’t compare. Seriously, it isn’t good for you or your children. You are your own beautiful, vibrant vessel. Own it and love it.
And, in reading this blog post, you are also taking your first step into creating more emotional intelligence in your and your child’s own worlds. I thank you for showing up to our world in your own beautiful, vibrant and authentic way. Remember, parenting is one of the most rewarding and scary jobs. You can do this!