I was shown Compassion by my children last night.
“Compassion is...when your heart tells you how someone is feeling and you listen...then you do something kind for them and their heart feels glad.”
My children saw me crying - big, fat tears rolling down my cheeks. Someone very special to me spent their birthday in seclusion on a secure psychiatric ward. I was unable to speak with them and let them know I was thinking of them and wishing them well. As I received this news, and imagined my special person all alone, I began to cry. I was sat with my children at the time.
I’m choosing to share this because last night illuminated something I often speak about with parents and carers. Sometimes adults feel the need to hide their emotions from children. Believing children will be negatively impacted by seeing an adult experience a ‘difficult or uncomfortable emotion’. I feel very differently. I believe a child witnessing their adult feeling different emotions can give them permission and a road map to do the same.
Me crying in front of my children is not a frequent occurrence. Nor did I share very much of my special person’s story. I’m conscious of their age and what they need to know and can manage. I also tried to be clear last night that I didn’t want them to ‘fix my sadness’. I repeatedly let them know that I am glad I feel ALL the emotions. Sadness is an important emotion. My special person’s story is a sad story and, when I am sad, I do cry. I wasn’t asking them to hold me in my sadness. I let them know that I was doing that by allowing myself to feel it. But, and this was the precious part, they felt comfortable enough to ask me questions, listen closely to my answers and choose to sit with me.
“That is sad, Mummy. I bet you really want to speak to her and say happy birthday.”
They were spot on. I did. They snuck away and came back proudly carrying a tray with a cup of tea, a Vimto and some raspberries on. I felt them offering me their Compassion and my ‘heart did feel glad’. I very much wish the story was different for my special person; that’s a given. But, I was grateful to see my children developing and sharing their Empathy and Compassion; the world needs both in abundance.