This morning I Googled “crying in front of children”. Morespecifically – is it ok to do so? Every message board and expert article and blog post had the same answer. That it’s perfectly fine to cry in front of your children. It teaches them about emotions and how they are natural and everyone has them and to let them out.
But I wish we could have two-sided conversations with Google because my follow up questions would be – Is it ok to cry in front of children when they’re the reason you’re crying? Do you tell them that they made you cry? Do you lie to them to avoid forcing guilt upon them? What if you’re crying for no reason in particular? Because pregnancy hormones and a bad start to the morning and a lack of sleep have all collided and left you feeling vulnerable and depressed? Can you just tell them, when they ask why you’re crying, that you’re crying for no reason? What if they don’t buy that?
Obviously this was my situation this morning. A combination of Eirinn waking at 5:45am, an over-abundance of out of control emotions, low blood sugar, and an “issue” that resulted in Eirinn’s very first Major Time Out caused me to breakdown this morning in front of her. While Eirinn can be rough and tough and bullheaded, she is extremely sensitive to other people’s feelings. When she saw me crying she immediately stopped whatever naughtiness she was doing and came to me asking what was wrong in a genuinely concerned tone. When I looked up, she was also tearing up (which made me cry even more). As I was trying my best to straighten myself out and dry the tears, she was petting my hair and my arm, telling me “It’s ok, Mommy. You be happy now?”
For the rest of the morning, her main concern was my happiness. Which sounds very sweet (and it is), but this concern came from guilt. Guilt that I forced upon her with my breakdown. I know this because my response to “you be happy now?” was “I’ll be happy when you’re a good girl.”
Is this too much for a two year old? Should she really be aware of how much her behaviour is tied to our feelings at this age? I will never love her any less, no matter what she does, but does she know that? I honestly don’t think that at two she, or any other child her age, can really grasp the concept of unconditional love. Maybe it’s my own guilt talking, but was my response to her damaging?
Or was it the right thing to say? Is it a good behavioural training tool for her to learn that when she’s bad, it upsets me, and when she’s good, it makes me happy?
I just don’t know. What I do know is that it happened, I said what I said, she reacted the way she did, and I’m sure it will happen again because I’m still pregnant and emotional, she’s still not sleeping well, and she’s still two (read: full of all kinds of naughty behaviour).