Is it ok to cry in front of your kids? Angelina Jolie's take!
When we become parents, we are extremely conscious about how we act in front of our kids. Often, we try to portray ourselves as perfect, unbreakable individuals to our children. But sometimes, our emotions get the better of us and we end up crying in front of our them, only to later wonder if we should have tried harder to hold ourselves together. I guess the question that many parents often ask is, is it ever ok to cry in front of your kids?
Angelina Jolie’s Take
I’m sure many of you would already have known that Brangelina and their marriage has yet again become a cause célèbre. Well, Angelina, who had remained silent for the most part of their divorce has finally started opening up and she addresses the issue of whether it’s ok to cry in front of your kids.
Angelina told Vanity Fair magazine that she makes a conscious effort to control her emotions in front of her kids. This is to prevent them from worrying.
“I was very worried about my mother, growing up – a lot” she said. “I don’t want my children to be worried about me. I think it’s very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them. They need to know that everything is going to be all right, even when you’re not sure it is.”
Angelina’s stand is quite clear in this matter – it’s not ok to cry in front of your kids. She adds that her her children have been very brave in dealing with their parents’ divorce.
“We’re all healing from the events that led to the filing,” she said. “They’re not healing from the divorce. They’re healing from some…from life, from things in life.”
Angelina has also been dealing with some new health issues. In addition to her preexisting hypertension, she developed Bell’s palsy, a condition that causes the muscles on the side of your face to weaken and droop.
We’re glad to know that she went through acupuncture and has since made a full recovery. Well kudos to this mama. She’s a tough cookie!
Well, we’ve heard that Angelina doesn’t think it’s ok to cry in front of your kids but the experts beg to differ.
Experts feel that it’s important for kids to see their parents experience normal human emotions. And that includes the good and bad!
Having said that, we must not discredit the fact that it is extremely disconcerting, and at times even traumatising for children to witness another person, especially an adult, crying, regardless of the reason. But they need to learn and understand that babies, toddlers, children and adults cry. Everyone cries. It is ok to cry in front of your kids.
What kids need to know about adults crying
Children need to understand that crying is a human expression of emotion that carries a lot of weight in it. Often, it is triggered by a negative experience, fear, pain or a flashback.
Many a time, when a child starts crying, parents tell them to stop, or to hold back their tears. Especially in the case of boys, parents remind them that in order to be strong they shouldn’t cry. In some cases, parents even propagate gender bias by telling their sons that boys don’t cry.
Crying is not a weakness or flaw. It is merely an expression.
Some people cry more easily than others but the truth is that everyone cries. Sometimes you cry over a movie or a book and other times for more serious, life-changing experiences like losing a job, losing a loved one or a divorce. You often feel that you need to ‘protect’ your children from witnessing your grief but experts reassure that this is really not necessary.
If you wouldn’t hide your laughter from your children, why hide your tears?
While it’s ok to cry in front of your kids, here’s something you want to watch out for. You see, kids are pretty much egocentric. They assume that the world revolves around them. Not that they want to, but mostly because they lack the emotional maturity and capacity to understand that it’s not always about them.
So when they witness their parent crying, they jump to the wrong conclusion that it’s about them. They think that they did or said something wrong that caused you to have such a strong, emotional reaction.
This is why it’s so important that you take time to explain to them why you are crying, in the best way that you can. Tell them that it’s not them.
It’s not you sweetheart. It’s not what you did, it’s not what you said. Hang on a minute, I’m just going to blow my nose and wipe the tears and I’m going to be ok again.
What to say
1. Tell them why
As much as you’d rather not, it’s important you explain to your children the reason you are crying. You don’t have to tell them everything, but on a level that reaches out to them, give them some sort of explanation. More importantly, tell them that whatever is happening is not going to affect them. Hug them and tell them it’s going to be ok.
2. Reassure them
It’s ok to cry in front of your kids so long as you ensure that you reassure them that you will protect them and keep them happy and safe even in your worst moments.
What not to do
1. Expect comfort and relief
No, it’s not their job to tell you that it’s going to be ok. Don’t expect them to comfort you and reassure you when they are feeling completely at a loss of what to do themselves. It’s not fair to them. Let them know why you are crying and that you’re going to manage it.
2. Provide too many details
Let’s say your husband said something downright nasty to you, and that made you burst into tears. It may give you momentary relief by ‘confiding in your child’ but the repercussions may last a lifetime. Be discerning and use your sound judgment of what details you should or should not share with them. They are only that young and their world is only that small.
So mums and dads, I know and I understand that you want to shelter and protect your child from anything that is unpleasant. But part of educating them and preparing them for life is letting them know that life is not a bed of roses. Of course, I’m not advocating you become a complete depressive in their presence, but just be honest.
If you paint a picture that’s too perfect, when your children face their first heartbreak, they won’t know how to handle it. They won’t know that it’s normal and part of life to cry and feel sad.
Also, in letting your children know that you are sad and you need to cry, you are actually teaching them how to empathise, and that too is necessary for them.
So yes, it is ok to cry in front of your kids, but not all the time.
Republished with permission from The Asianparent Singapore