Why it’s important to let your children feel

He laughs and around us, mountains, the kind you can run to and we run together, a family of all-sorts: Mum in her new floral shirt and Dad in his “holiday” blue jeans and my sister, all pregnant and glowing and my brother with his Blackberry, his two kids in bed and Allison, the piano player and we stare as Dad laughs. He laughs grooves into skin, and his mirth is froth on our toes and we float on this feeling of happy.

It’s new this laughing, and for years we longed to hear it… not a chuckle or a polite giggle but one that makes the day open wide like a mouth, and I used to push all of his buttons in hopes of him feeling something. He’s a stoic reverend that’s becoming soft with grandchildren and Mum’s illness and realizing the church is more and so we’re all learning to feel.

It’s easy to not let our children feel something for the pain it causes us. Aiden cries and I find myself suggesting a cookie in hopes of tears stopping but that’s food cramming the emotion and isn’t this what an eating disorder does? So I need to let him cry, to hold him while he does. I should not tell him “it’s okay” when it’s not, when for him, it’s not, it’s the end of the world, and I should just let him sit in the tears for a little while. To feel the sadness with him. and this, the hardest thing to do. To not fix. To just let. For then we must trust God to do the healing, while we simply hold and cry with them.

And they’ll see our tears and know their sadness means something, that they are worth the feeling, this moment, and that love is real in a painful kind of way, the kind that makes you double over for the knowing, the kind that puts a Savior on a cross.

And they won’t need to solve the sadness later with a cookie or cutting, for they’ll know they are held, and they’ll know that this too shall pass, with the letting.

(sharing this also at my personal blog, here)

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