Helping Children with Loss – Part Two – Looking at Myth 1: Don’t Feel Bad

Part Two – Looking at Myth 1:  Don’t Feel Bad

Earlier we mentioned how ridiculous it would seem if someone responded to a positive event in your life by saying, “don’t feel good,”  well, even more absurd – not to mention destructive – is to lovingly tell a child “Don’t feel bad” in response to a painful experience.  As we suggested, to do so puts the child into conflict with his or her own nature, into conflict with the truth, and, finally, into conflict with the person what was attempting to comfort the child.

Ultimately, the same rules apply to both adults and children.

If it is true that feeling bad has a valuable purpose, then this truth must be honored.  Children, who naturally look to adults (especially their parents), for emotional guidance, are the ultimate victims of the misconception that avoiding or bypassing negative feelings can have positive results.

Impact of long term results

One of the unfortunate long-term results of the distorted ideas about dealing with sad feelings is evidenced by the number of people who show up at our seminars with the tragic complaint that they are unable to cry.  Without exception, their stories contain a striking, repetitive message – “Don’t feel bad.”

We want to soothe our children

Implicit in parenting is the idea of soothing our children.  When an infant is too young to tell us in words specifically what is bothering him or her, we resort to general solutions, hoping that we can quickly make baby feel better.  We put babies on our shoulder and rock them and coo to them.  There is nothing wrong with this.  Gradually begin to recognize and differentiate our infant’s calls of distress.  We can tell if baby is hungry, or tired, or in need of a diaper change.  We can then administer solutions to the child’s specific problem.

And sometimes we cannot

And yet, in spite of our increasing familiarity with our child and his or her needs, there are often times when we cannot identify a specific problem, and therefore we cannot come up with a solution.  But as always, we do not want our children to feel bad.  It is very difficult for us as parents to accept that there will be times when our children do not feel good, and when there is not a specific identifiable, and correctable reason.  It is very difficult for us just to allow them to feel bad, simply because that is the immediate reality for them.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Are there times when you just feel a little down, a little blue, a little sad?  If so, do you always know the exact reason?  If you feel sad but don’t know why, is that okay?  As you think about these questions, imagine that you have just told a friend that you feel a little blue and that you have no specific reason.  Then imagine your well meaning and loving friend responding ‘Don’t feel bad, you should feel grateful  – you have two arms and two legs and it’s a beautiful day.”  Your friend doesn’t understand that it’s like comparing apples and oranges: your healthy arms and legs have no bearing on the sadness you are feeling.

We believe that a terribly misguided concept has evolved over the years; one that has led us to believe that feeling bad is bad.  It is more helpful  to understand that the essence of humanness is that our feelings are always changing, from one moment to the next.  The most accurate illustration of the changeability of human emotions is seen in infants who go from happy to sad, or sad to happy, without any apparent external stimulus.  they never question themselves until we start teaching them and showing them – “Don’t feel bad.”

From the book.  . When Children Grieve written by John W James  and Russell Friedman with Dr. Leslie Landon Matthews

There is help . .

If you are interested in participating in the Renew Your Possibility – As Children Grieve 6 week Study group, sign up here.

This is a complimentary study group that will provide you some incredibly valuable safety tips and tools that you will be able to use for the rest of your life and your children’s lives.  I guarantee it.

Or, if you are not ready to take that step, purchase the book “When Children Grieve here . .

Or download one of the ebooks under the resources page and read up on grief.

Another option is to Schedule a 15 minute complimentary call to share what your experiencing so you can ask me questions.

Just take that first step.  Do something that you have not done before.  It’s ok, that your not ok, yet please don’t stay stuck in grief.  There is light on the other side.

Remember, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato

Yours in Gratitude and to Renewing Your Possibility. . .

Debbie  Your Grief Recovery Specialist®