Kids, It's Okay to be Sad.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Don't be cranky! Don't be cranky! Don't be cranky!" I heard S yelling at her brother. 

She continued by saying/yelling/demanding, "Be happy, Pato! Be happy, be happy, be HAPPPY!"

Normally, I'd agree with those sentiments. Heaven knows at the end of the day, I just want my kids to feel happy. And I have to admit....when they're happy, things go much more smoothly around here.

But, what kind of parent would I be if I expected my children to be happy ALL the time? I'll tell ya, a very unrealistic one.

Before she goes to bed, S has taken to talking about how she's "sad about (insert any possible thing in here)" to stall for another minute. Sometimes she'll be sad about the moon. Sometimes she'll be sad about her blanket. Sometimes she'll be sad that we just don't think it would be a fun idea to sleep next to her on her floor.

Normally, I find myself telling her why she shouldn't be sad, or try to find a way to immediately fix the problem.

"Don't be sad, Dada will be home soon!"
"If I give you a treat, will that make you not sad anymore?"

I don't plan on discontinuing this altogether (because I think trying to find the positive in things and finding solutions are both very very good things to do), but I do want to try to sometimes let my children be sad. 

What I've been working on lately is telling S that sometimes, it's okay to be be a little sad. It's normal. Some people struggle daily with debilitating sadness. We all could use a little more support and a little more kindness in our lives.

I want to teach my children that life isn't always just about being happy. It's about being happy...and sad. It's about being excited, and also disappointed. They will have moments of joy and moments of heartbreak. I want to stop giving them the message that being sad is not okay or is not tolerated. Instead of putting "bandaids" on things, I want to be able to just sit and hold them when they need it. Talk about why they're sad.

Cause you know what? Sharing toys can be hard! And, no one likes being told it's time to leave when you're having so much fun with friends. Things are sad!

And sometimes you have a leak in your ceiling, no AC in the middle of the Virginia summer, the kids wake up with colds, and your dang garage door won't open as you're trying to leave the house to get to an air conditioned place! All in the same 24-hour timespan. Bah! That would drive anyone to tears! (Or maybe just me?)

And other times you lose someone you love.  Or someone lets you down. Or people get sick. don't know why you're sad, except that you just are.

I want my children to feel on top of the world, but I also hope they will also have moments that will humble them to their knees. Because so much growth comes from opposite ends of the spectrum.

So, what's the main point here?

The main point is this. The world and the people in it have so much value. It is a breathtakingly beautiful place that is full of joy, but also full of mourners. I want my children to truly be able to mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

And I pray that others will be there for them, too. 

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