My older daughter met twins her age at the park. The three little girls sprinted to the roundabout and started spinning around.
My three-year-old followed, straggling behind, and missing the first spin.
I saw her eyes start glimmering with shiny tears as they went around and around without her.
I went up to the roundabout and forced it to a halt.
“Why is she crying? Only babies cry,” one of the twins snarked at my three-year-old as tears fell down her cheeks.
“That’s not true,” I said, defending her. But I was too busy calming down my little girl and helping her onto the roundabout to say much more.
But I felt sorry for that snarky little girl at that moment.
Yes, I felt sorry for her, not my “cry baby.”
Because her parents must tell her “only babies cry.”
I imagined her tip-toeing into her parent’s room in tears after a nightmare.
“Mommy, I had a bad dream. I’m afraid,” she’d loudly whisper, like little kids do, startling her mommy awake.
“Are you crying? Only babies cry. It’s only a dream. Go back to sleep,” She’d say, half-sleeping.
The little girl would go back to her room still frightened. Her feelings brushed off and reduced to baby status—every five-year-old’s worst nightmare.
And that’s heartbreaking.
This girl’s being taught to keep those hard emotions in.
And as she grows up, she won’t know how to deal with challenging emotions and be at higher risk of criticizing herself, drinking or drugging, eating too much or too little, busyness, or other self-harming behaviors.
And take it from someone who’s been there, constantly running from your emotions is exhausting.
So, I want my children to feel comfortable feeling their feelings, even the hard ones.
“Are you okay?” I’ll ask, knowing the answer.
“Not really,” they’ll say before tears will surface along with broken words.
And I’ll always be their safe space to let it out.
So, I’m happy to raise “cry babies.”
This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page.