“Feelings are real and legitimate; children behave and misbehave for a reason, even if adults cannot figure it out.”
So I was in Kohl's last week. Casually browsing through the men's Hawaiian shirts, trying to find the perfect shirt for Father's Day. It was early, 10:30 am, and the store was not yet crowded, so I was alone in the menswear dept. And then I heard it, a small child, crying/whining "But I'm tired!" And then I heard the mom say in her meanest voice ever "THERE ARE NO CARTS WITH SEATS! YOU HAVE TO WALK!!!!!!!".
The voices got louder, I knew they were heading my way, but still could not see this little family amongst all the racks of clothing. The girl kept crying "Mama, I'm tired!" The mom kept bitching "You are 3 years old! You have legs and can WALK!"
Finally they walked past where I was perusing my shirts. All single file. First the mom, mid 30's probably, looking very stern. Then the 3 year old, just a tiny thing, all hunched over, dragging her feet, rubbing her eyes. Crying. Then a third person, another girl, probably 7 or 8, walking along not saying a peep, just looking sad.
I wanted to pick up the 3 year old and give her a little squeeze and tell her "I know you are tired, I'm sorry your mom dragged you to this store". But I just kept looking at my shirts, and cringing every time this mom yelled at her 3 year old for being tired. I wanted to tell this mom that her time with her 3 year old will be over in a flash, and that her daughter was the most precious thing right now, not shopping, and that she should pick her up and give her a squeeze, and then maybe she'd more happily walk along. Or if she was really tired (I know my toddlers often woke up at 5-6am!), how hard would it be to carry her along, this was a tiny 3 year old, not a big hulking one.
But I said nothing. I don't think if I had it would have been well received. The older girl seemed sad, either the mom had been bitching at her kids all morning, or she just wasn't an overall nice mom. Seems the older daughter had already learned the drill, keep your emotions hidden, don't voice your concerns. Just follow along and tow the line. Sad really.
I see this too often. Parent's dragging their kids here and there, the kids are tired, the parent's are yelling at them. Why does a child deserve to be yelled at for being tired and sharing their feelings? This is why kids shut down and learn not to feel. They have been raised by people who don't honor them, or their feelings or care about what they think. This is why people eat too much and smoke and drink and do drugs and shop, etc. They were taught to shut off their emotions as kids, to stay out of trouble or to avoid being yelled at. If you have lost touch with your emotions, you don't know who you are or what you are feeling. If you don't know those things, you look for outside things to make you feel better.
I'm no shrink, but I have been there. I was often told as a child what to feel. If I cried I was told not to cry. If I was slapped and cried I was told it didn't hurt. If something happened I was told it wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be.
No one knows what someone else is feeling and no one else has the right to tell someone else how to feel. EVER!
Even a 3 year old knows what they feel. Until someone bigger and stronger tells them, over and over, that they aren't feeling what they think they are. Then they begin to question themselves, until they no longer feel.
Wake up parents!
"Feelings are everywhere - be gentle."