Monday, May 30, 2011

Crying in Front of the Kids

A recent piece at Salon, My year of tears, about crying in front of the kids, was certainly timely, what with Memorial Day at the National Cemetery where my dad's ashes are interred and the one year anniversary of his death approaching:
Like most mothers, I have wiped away buckets of tears in my time. My daughters came into the world squalling, and they've been doing it consistently ever since. Through scraped knees and overstimulating birthday parties and games of Chutes and Ladders gone horribly wrong and friends moving away, they've always been good at letting their feelings out, secure in the knowledge that Mom would be there with a Kleenex and a hug. But over the last several months, I've been the one doing most of the crying. And I've found myself in dark new territory, caught between the imperative to set the good example of expressing natural emotions and an instinctive desire to shield my children from life's harshest knocks.

Until fairly recently, the only time my kids saw me reduced to sobs was during the final minutes of "Up" or "Charlotte's Web." Then, in fairly rapid succession, I got cancer, one of my best friends got cancer, and two members of my family died. It's been waterworks ever since. And my kids have been right in the front row for a lot of them.
So what do you think?  Do you cry in front of your kids?  Should you cry in front of your kids?


Mahmee said...

After our daughter came home from China, we lost 4 loved ones and 2 pets (one dying in front of us at home). It's been rough at times. I think I tried to hold back the tears in front of her at first. But then, it was all too much...and I'm in peri-menopause so, crying...just is. At one point, I figured that it was silly to hide it from her. Crying is a natural human emotion. Losses will always happen. I think it's a good thing to teach children at a young age that openly grieving is's a good's natural.
Your post is timely as I spent 45 minutes just last night crying with my 5-year-old as she grieved over the loss of her birth mother...that she may never ever find her. Knowing it's OK to cry is a good thing...that's my opinion.
I'm sorry for the loss of your Father. I know how that feels.

Linda said...

Im sorry for your loss.

I've always cried in front of my girls. Happy, sad, angry and hilarious tears.

Reena said...

I agree with Mahmee,

"Crying is a natural human emotion. Losses will always happen. I think it's a good thing to teach children at a young age that openly grieving is's a good's natural."

The Gang's Momma! said...

It sure beats stuffing it all in, which could (and usually does) bring a whole 'nuther set of issues with which you and they will have to deal.

Here's how I try to do it (with all my emotions, good and bad): Be open, be normal, be natural. Share your experience honestly with your kids. I think the most important thing is to bring a sense of closure (oh, how I hate that word, but it fits for here) to the situation. If the sad tears have a point and have a "moving forward" to them, share that too. Leaving our kids with buckets of unresolved feelings is scary for them.

So sorry for the loss of your dad. So glad you have a chance to remember the wonderful things about him on a holiday such as this. Serving our nation is no small feat and speaks to his character. That's a lasting legacy for sure.

Lesley said...

I'm like Linda - I cry at everything! Unfortunately I cry when I'm angry. I figure that as long as it isn't something that is out of control then I am showing them it is okay to have emotions, and that it is okay to master them and move on.

I know parents that don't cry in front of their kids, like ever, and so when something happens and they do their kid is freaked out.