There was a time when children ‘were to be seen and not heard’ and when it was unacceptable to include children in ‘grownup’ conversations and situations of any kind. In the eyes of a child adults were unshakeable and lacking feelings and emotions.
Children rarely (if ever) saw their parents or grandparents express worry, pain, or grief. And there are still people like that today. I even know people today who won’t let their kids (pre-teens include) attend funerals of family members because death is “too scary” and something they don’t want them to have to deal with.
While I agree that there are definitely times and places children shouldn’t be included, there are plenty of times when they should. I was reminded of that in a very sweet and special way this week by seven year-old Mackenzie…
Mackenzie knows that the last few days have been both sad and stressful for me, so wanting to make me feel better, she wrote a letter and mailed it to me—a letter telling me she was sorry about the events of the last few days, that she loved, me and that she hoped I would feel better soon.
It worked. That little handwritten ‘love note’ did wonders. But Mackenzie’s awareness of what had taken place did more than make me feel better. Without realizing it, Mackenzie benefitted from the experience, too.
In knowing what was going on Mackenzie was able to ‘practice’ compassion and understanding. She was able to express her feelings of love and concern without being dismissed. She was also reminded that emotions and feelings are perfectly normal and okay…even for adults.
Children need to be able to ‘practice’ compassion and understanding in order to become compassionate and understanding adults. Children need to know their feelings and matter and that they have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others. Children need to know how to express their emotions and feelings appropriately—and that it’s perfectly okay to do so no matter how old you are.
Again…there are definitely situations and conversations that are for adults only, but when that’s not the case, don’t deny your children the opportunity to become stronger, wiser, kinder, more compassionate, more confident, and better equipped to handle the things life throws their way.
Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.