The world around is an emotional mess. People express emotions of all kinds. They are angry, and sad, and happy all around. But even more than the ones that are expressed are the ones that are suppressed. Society has constructed an abstract framework on how men and women should behave. Some emotions are not supposed to be brought out in the open.
It varies according to genders and has resulted in the creation of stereotypes for men and women. The mental toll that suppressed emotions have on a person is grossly underrated. For fathers, it is absolutely imperative that they inculcate the confidence in their kids to be expressive of their true emotions.
What are some of the negative feelings that kids should reveal to their fathers?
- That they are scared of failure.
- That they are angry at the injustice in their life.
- That they are embarrassed about some moments in their life.
- That they are sad as a result of some incident.
- That their preferences go against the stereotypes.
Here are negative things kids should tell fathers
Being afraid is construed as being weak
The world looks down upon the expression of fear. We encourage our kids to be brave and face the turmoil of life without balking. But the constant need to stay brave starts taking its toll on the kids. They cannot face each and every situation that they come across with the same vigor and courage.
And they break under the pressure to remain resilient. We pass a very wrong lesson to them when we tell them that only the weak people express fear. We are emotionally stunting them by pressuring them to stay strong.
- Tell them overcoming fear is more important: The kids need to learn that being afraid is a very natural state of the human mind. It has developed over millions of years of evolution and cannot be erased just because society considers it a weak emotion. Knowing the things, you are afraid of, and working on those things is the important thing.
Some kids fear height, some fear closed places, and some fear the very splash of water. Which is the worst fear? None of them. The only harm a parent can do is not helping their kids overcome their fear. And the first step in that process is encouraging them to acknowledge it.
Being angry is rude
No one likes an angry person. Anger has indeed been the reason for the downfall of many mighty men. Adults enroll themselves in anger management sessions to solve their anger issues. And when kids show anger at an early age, parents are alarmed. They often forget that anger is the most animalistic instinct of all and that their kids are just typifying normal animal behavior when they are being angry.
The primary reason for kids, like adults, to express anger is when they come across unfairness in their lives. For kids, unfair practices do not make sense at all. They have been brought up being told that good begets good and work hard to ensure success. So, when they realize that the real world does not work on those principles necessarily, they fail to grasp them.
- Unfairness is the world’s way: Fathers should take the opportunity to introduce the ways of the world to the kids at the most opportune moments. When they work hard and get low scores, or when they lose their first game, the fathers can impress upon their kids the inherently inequitable manner in which their lives will continue.
Instead of chiding them for being angry, make them understand that the world is not a perfect place. Let them know that working hard does not always guarantee success and that it is alright to be mad at the world at times.
Just ensure that they learn how to get over that anger and use it to work harder the next time around.
Stereotypes are not natural
Men need to be strong; women need to be gentle. Men can be abrasive; women need to be polite. If the world is not short of one thing, it is stereotypes. There are stereotypes for castes, colors, genders, race, nationality, and more. Every person belonging to a particular set of people is type-casted into the stereotypical attributes for that set.
Kids growing up are brought up in households around the world where these stereotypes are reinforced every day. And they grow up believing that any aberration or departure from the norm is wrong. It does not just kill the individuality of the kids; it also hampers their growth into confident adults.
- Celebrate differences: The fathers should encourage their kids to express their individuality. Let the kids be brought up in such an atmosphere where they can push against all the set norms and be brave to be themselves. Taboos can be placed on sexuality, relationships, religious beliefs, and more.
By encouraging your kids to speak about these issues and raise their doubts, fathers can ensure that they raise intelligent and empathetic kids who care for others.
Preserving their individuality is vital for them to be contended and lead fulfilling lives. No father ever wants their kids to be secretive of their true self.
It is alright to be not ambitious
This is a very grey area, especially in today’s hyper-competitive world. Parents are falling over each other trying to get their kids enrolled into the best schools and colleges. The amount of money that parents today are ready to shell out on getting their kids to have an advantage over other kids is mind-boggling.
This could be money spent on expensive educational institutions, life coaches, sporting schools, and other developmental preparatory courses. Do all of them guarantee success in life? Probably not. But that is a secondary issue. The primary one is to know whether your kids really want it.
- Bigger is not always better: There are kids who are wired for the fast-paced life. Good for them. But there are other kids who just like taking it slow. There are kids who like to take their time, who do not want to become corporate honchos, who would much rather prefer a laid-back lifestyle. And the fathers have to tell them what is wrong with being the latter kind: nothing at all.
Kids should be allowed to choose their pace for life. There is no shame in having simpler goals. Appreciate your kids’ ambitions, no matter the size of it, so that they start appreciating them as well.v
Sadness is a very natural reaction
We keep telling our kids not to be sad. Our first reaction to any untoward incident involving our kids is to ensure that they get over it as soon as possible. Parents rarely care to understand how the incident might have affected them or how they are trying to cope with it. We want things to get back to normal.
But how do we deal with trouble ourselves? Adults come across all kinds of emotions in a normal week. They experience the highs of jubilance to the lows of despair. We never deny ourselves the chance to feel sad and give time for the wounds to heal. But then why do not we expect our kids to want to do the same?
- Being sad is alright: Fathers need to tell their kids that the manner of getting over sadness is not to forget about it but to deal with it. Ask your kids to talk to you regarding the thoughts that sadden them.
Tell them it is alright to be sad and that eventually, they will start feeling better. Instead of trying to make them forget the reasons for sadness, help them deal with those reasons more reasonably so that they can evolve as mature human beings.
Let them know adults get embarrassed too
Kids have a difficult time making sense of the world. For them, every experience is a first. They go to the school for the first time, they make friends for the first time and they appear on stage for the first time. There may be plenty of occasions when they embarrass themselves.
People may laugh at them and they may find it difficult to face them again. But parents need to impress upon them that it happens to the best of us and that people will move on before they realize it. Fathers can always help the kids get over it.
- Tell them your checkered history: Usually the best way of letting the kids know that being embarrassed is all too natural is by recounting your past. The kids need to understand that the fathers are coming from a place of experience and that they are not just uttering platitudes. Tell them about the moments from your past when you were caught in the most unfortunate instance and how funny those moments appear to you now.
Tell them how those moments never defined you and how they are mere snippets from your past. The kids might develop irrational crowd phobia and resign to an introverted personality in the future if their embarrassment is not dealt with correctly.
Encourage them to share their insecurities
Kids can have a multitude of insecurities. Growing up can be tough. Teenage can be a really messy period in everybody’s life. Their bodies are changing, their lives are changing, and the kids are in constant emotional turmoil. It falls upon the fathers to connect with the kids and let them know that people will definitely have their own shortcomings.
Not talking about them and trying to hide from the world can never be the solution to those problems. They need to realize that talking about their deep-set fears makes them go away and not reinforce them.
- Get them to open up: Kids can be extremely vulnerable at the growth phase of their lives. They might be bullied at school or taunted by other elders like the teachers or coaches. These can create a sense of self-loathing and a lack of self-respect. They might start believing what others say about them and forget their own value.
Only fathers can connect with them and make it known to them that they are worthy of more. Ask them to speak about the insecurities that they hold and let them know that they have a rock-solid support system at home.
Kids who are bullied at school are usually looking for just that one adult figure who can help them through. Fathers can be that figure for the kids.
In a society that maintains all kinds of taboos on our emotional displays, kids can easily grow up with a very narrow emotional range. They could find it extremely difficult to be expressive of some thoughts which they believe go against the preset norms of the society around them.
This in turn can give rise to immense internal struggle and strife for them growing up. As the adults with the greatest investments in their lives, fathers need to help the kids be more expressive as to how they feel.
The kids should be told that no matter how they feel, talking about those feelings with the fathers always make them better. Fathers need to be more empathetic and ready to listen.
Once the communication is established and insecurities are exchanged, it always fizzles out into nothing. But if there is any serious issue, that too is much better served with more adult heads in the mix than that of one confused kid. Talking about negative things always creates positive effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is absolutely important to encourage the kids to do so. In societies around the world, it is considered taboo to even mention anything remotely related to sexuality. This suppression of discussion on the topic raises emotionally stunted kids who reinforce the said taboo.
Moreover, kids having non-traditional sexual orientations suffer a lot because of the shame and guilt associated with it.
It is absolutely normal for them to be irritated and disconcerted when things do not go their way in life especially when they put in enough effort. But instead of asking them to hold the anger, the fathers should talk to them regarding the underlying reasons.
Let them know that failures are a part of life and being angry is fine but working harder is more important.
They should if those embarrassing moments are worth sharing with kids. Kids need to grow up knowing that their parents too faced uncomfortable moments in their life and turned out just fine.
This will enable them to understand that those embarrassing moments in life would not last long.
They most definitely can. The fathers are the primary points of exposure for the kids with the outside world. They can set the tone for the kids from the very beginning. Let them know that society comes with its share of prejudices and misjudgments.
Sticking with society’s construct is not always important. The kids will believe this when heard from the parents.