Tuesday, July 17, 2018
One of the hardest things as a parent is seeing your child cry on a video call when you are hundreds of miles away. You may not be the cause for concern but you're not there to be the comfort in the chaos. The look in his sad eyes and the knowledge that a virtual hug isn't enough to quell his worries. Parenting in the digital age has some great perks. I can see my children when we are on two different coasts. I can send a quick Steven Universe gif to my daughter to brighten her day, and she can send me pictures of their beach outing, which invariably brightens mine. But when my child's heart is breaking because of the selfish actions of another, my only recourse is to cry with him. My instict would be to hide my tears, but in the moment it felt more important and genuineto show him that he is not alone. The range of human emotions is vast and protecting him from mine would isolate him even more. Far too often we discuss simple emotions with children and neglect to mention the more difficult ones, for fear that they are too young to understand. What we fail to realize is that they are experiencing feelings that we haven't given them the words to name. The tears streaming down my face when talking to my son weren't just tears of sadness, they reflected disappointment and disheartenment. I sometimes sit on the fence about what to share with my children, but if I'm being truly honest, I would rather my children experience some of the difficulties of life now so that they learn how to navigate them with us being there as a safety net, than to shield them from the nuances of human interactions. Children who are better able to express their feelings are better able to empathize with others. Connection is the heart of the human experience and I want for our children to have compassion and a better understanding of what they're feeling, which will hopefully lead to deeper and fulfilling relationships. The greatness of the job of parenting is not in the trips to Disney, but in the day to day moments where we can share our humanity. The pain and frustration that I feel watching my son cry from a distance will never be easy, but it will make me a better parent and prayerfully, he will be a better person as well. That's all I can ask for.