Let Them Feel
I don't want her to feel this grief. I don't want her to hurt this deeply.
So many parents shield their children from hard feelings and I get it. I understand why, but it's not healthy. They need to feel and it's safer and wiser to let them first feel that with the comfort and protection that you provide as the parent.
My moment of realization happened this past year when we had to re-home our cat. The cat was actually a support pet for our child and we tried everything we could to keep her. We were her third home after she was abandoned (and then bullied). We were supposed to be her safe space and she would provide support for our child. We then moved twice in a short amount of time, both to houses with previous dog families. We also went through our most traumatic time as a family during these two moves. There was so much stress and anxiety on top of all that comes with a normal move. This did the cat in! We tried almost everything to better things for the kitty- pretty much the only thing left was to take her to cat therapy. Seriously.
As I'm starting to pull away from the house, my child is holding on to her dad, crying and clinging. I got 5 minutes down the road and I knew they were all feeling this loss. I almost turned around so they wouldn't have to feel it. I could make it all better!
As these thoughts were increasing, I felt Holy Spirit stir up in me these thoughts, "Your child will go through grief, that does not mean you don't love her. You just need to be there for her while she feels this. That is love."
Gut punch. So true. What was more important in that moment was for us to support each other while we did what was actually best for all of us.
There are times I want to quickly go back and apologize for being stern to the kids and make sure they're "OK", but I quickly remember if I don't show them how to handle it now, how will they deal with it when their professor or boss has to be stern? (Personally, I know how they will react because I've had several employees where this was the case!) I would much rather them learn young and with me.
In an age where children seem so much more fragile, whether it be from lack of parenting, PC parenting, social media influence, or "everybody-gets-a-trophy" parenting, they still need (and believe or not crave) discipline and structure. They need you to tell them what to do and not to do. They need you to be consistent and follow through. Basically... they need you to be the parent! (go figure!)
When I got home from re-homing the cat, they were sad, but fine. It only took a few days for my daughter to start to feel just how good this was. It was good for the new owner and it was a safer environment for the cat. I found it amazing to see how it strengthened my daughter. It was an opportunity for her to be responsible, unselfish, and mature. We encouraged her in that. She did a hard thing and she had the support of her family as she navigated her feelings.
This is what it's all about: It's about going through it together. They will feel all sorts of emotions and they need to know how to feel through them. We are sort of their training wheels at this point.
This is an incredible opportunity for you- you have a powerful position here!