To cry or not to cry? Or more to the point, to cry or not to cry in front of your children? That is the question that has been receiving quite a bit of attention in our household of late. According to our four kids, Doo and I are relatively good parents, but the one area where we have definitely failed is in the modeling of vulnerability.
It’s not a surprising accusation, really. Doo grew up in a world where men simply didn’t cry, and so he doesn’t. And though I do get emotional, it’s a rarity that very few will even witness. I’m half British and spent a couple of years in the military – stoicism is my thing, at least until I reach the safety of a vacant bathroom or minivan. I’m also terrible when dealing with others who are sharing deep feelings. I either flee or make an inappropriate four-letter-word joke. And god forbid if hugs are called for. Blech.
The problem is that my now young-adult offspring don’t know how to express heartache or sorrow in a healthy way. They’ve never seen it done, not by me or Doo. And they’ve finally called us out on it, elaborating incessantly on this shortcoming over the last month: “We need therapy, Mom!”
OK, Doo and I figured our heirs would seek professional help at some point. They’ve grown up with a left-leaning redheaded mother who suppresses her emotions and a right-leaning bald father who battles ADD. But how to show grief? I didn’t see that one coming.
In answer to my previous question, then, absolutely cry in front of your children!