My one and only son arrived 10 years after my oldest child. He’s 12 or more specifically… “I’m 12–1/2,” he’d say.
He is such a cool kid. He is calm at heart and has been introverted most time since birth but when he warms up minutes later, he’s so much fun.
We have had so many great times and some underwhelming moments trying to make sure that I am not too much in his world.
I say that because I am an extrovert. I love people-filled spaces, new locations, and learning environments when I step onto the scene.
He, on the other hand, needs to know specifics before we arrive, from what time he needs to be ready, what time we will get there, who will be there, and on, and on.
His emotional state.
Emotionally, he seems a bit even-keeled. He really hasn’t been in any situations where I needed to be stern with him so seeing him cry hasn’t been since he was a toddler.
That alone breaks my heart.
That says to me that he has been holding in emotions opposite to his beautiful smiles.
I have been a divorced, single mom since he has been born. How he is raised is on me but thank goodness for my extended family who has been here the whole time as support. His dad is way less than part-time.
As my son has grown, however, I have made it known that his words and feelings matter.
I have taught him and told others we come in contact with, that I do not raise my kids to believe that being brave without showing feelings is the norm.
There is an emotion that occurs. It varies from person to person.
The day he gave in.
On this day, I took him to a new doctor’s office for a nurse visit to complete his immunizations/flu shot. I was behind, which is not the norm so he had to receive 3 plus the flu shot. I explained that to him and the nurse reiterated.
I apologized to my son for not staying on top of his shot record but they were necessary (this is not a conversation about opinions on immunizations, my kid, my choice).
I gave him the option to make these two separate visits: one being the 3 and then come back for the flu shot. Or he could go ahead and do them all that day and be done. He chose all 4.
Now, we are talking about a person who spent years not liking doctor visits and needing assistance receiving shots and/or having blood drawn (some parents know exactly what I mean). But now, he has not needed help completing these types of visits.
The nurse was excellent and supportive. Since this was our first time there, I was hoping she would not be one of those, “You’re a boy, you can do this.” She wasn’t. That stance is one that I refuse to use in raising my son, especially when it comes to emotions.
Imagine for a moment.
The number of boys who have been told that their entire life, not being able to really show emotion. And for what? Societal bullshit belief? Nah. Not mine.
Here are 3 things that you can do to help your son express his emotions:
1). Let your son know that expressing himself in a safe and healthy way is okay.
He needs to be reminded that he is fine. What he is going through is normal. It is expected that things may not goes his way or that he may not agree with or even be hurt by a situation, thought or issue. Again, it is okay.
2). Allowing a space for him not to be okay.
He shoudl be able to face his feelings and express them. We, as parents, are in charge of helping our children with their emotional state.
Whether we teach them to use creativity to express or if tears are their instant reaction (even if uncontrolled), it is their way. They have to know that they are in charge of their emotional well-being although we are there to support.
However, there may be instances where we are not there, we are responsible for offering ways for them to stay in control during these times.
Those can be things like count to 10, write out what they are feeling then rip the sheet up and throw away, or even ask him what would help them calm.
He prepared himself for the shots while she explained the process and quickly completed them while offering him congrats on doing well. He smiled and looked at me. I smiled and confirmed.
3. Have faith in your son.
Trust that what you have taught your son. Of course, our ultimate trust is in God (or the higher power you depend on) but while we are human, we can be the help for our children.
One of the ways we can be there and trust our son can make it through these situations is to begin to respond the way you would like him to.
But why not offer him the way you believe is the better way to reach a solution? Exactly.
Then, it began.
While he looked away and sat still on the exam table, I continued to confirm his courage. The more I spoke the more his eyes filled with tears. As he blinked to hold back, I let him know that his feelings are valid.
I gave him a hug as I reminded him that the process was probably a lot to take in and that he made the decision to get the shots but it may have been a difficult one.
Confirming some of the feelings he may have had was my goal. Asking him to chat about his feelings worked also.
I told him that being in a position to make decisions that we might not be totally on board with but may be the best for us will happen. And that takes courage.
His tears revealed themselves and they were accepted in the room. He wasn’t told to man up, or boys don’t cry, or the craziness that boys are not supposed to feel (or show their feeling).
At that moment he was able to be vulnerable, and understand these times will occur and that it is okay to be human. Yes, even as he grows into manhood. He will be emotionally stable. He will understand that it is okay to have feelings and will be able to face them.
He will know the difference between dealing with our feelings and when there is a need to succumb to them.
He and I had a wonderful moment. Most of the time while I was encouraging him I was hugging him. He responded when he needed to and I listened.
When I released the hug and made sure he was okay, we straightened up, wiped off, and prepared for the rest of the day. Before we left our patient room, he asked for one more hug.
Without speaking, this hug said it all.
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