I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy, once you have seen my misery, and gotten to know the distress of my soul. Psalm 31:8
Jocelyn came to me, last week, very upset after playing a video game on Roblox. Apparently, another player was unkind to her. When she told me more details, I realized the situation was so trivial, and the unkind action so minute, I began to talk her out of her feelings.
My intention was to help her see the bigger pictures. I also wanted to toughen her up a bit. If she was getting this upset over a minor incident, we were going to be in for BIG trouble when something truly unkind happens later.
To show me the error of my ways, in less than 24 hours, a similar situation happened to me.
While talking with someone, I confided in her about the things I’ve REALLY been struggling with lately. Within 30 seconds, she began to tell me how everyone had it hard, a dozen people she knows have the same struggles, and blah, blah, blah. I tuned her out after that in self-preservation.
Honestly, I believe she thought she was being helpful, and viewed what she was saying as a pep-talk. But from my perspective, she had just trivialized my problems and my feelings, and that hurt.
Of course, I’m not facing any real and true hardships like the possible loss of my home, or a terminal diagnosis. But my problems still weigh on me. They’re challenges I haven’t yet figured out, and the process of doing so is taking everything I have.
And there it is – the lesson I needed to learn as a person so I can become a better mother. No matter how small our struggles may seem to others, if they stir deep emotions in us, they need to be validated and respected by those we turn to for help.
Of course some stranger copying my daughter in her Roblox game, and then telling others my daughter was the one copying her is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But it struck a deep, emotional cord in Jocelyn. She values honestly above all else. Some nine-year-old, somewhere in the world, publicly saying Jocelyn was being dishonest, cut her to the core. Shame on me for not validating and supporting her!
Needless to say, I went to Jocelyn and apologized. I also told her I’d support her planned response, as long as it didn’t include being unkind back.
You should have seen the transformation in her. Just hearing that I honored her feelings brought her joy back.
That transformation is one I hope to remember for a long, long time to come to inspire me to never, ever belittle someone else’s feelings again, no matter how things look from my perspective.
Instead, I’m vowing to always listen and affirm. I’ve learned firsthand just how important those two actions can be.
Questions for Reflection:
* Do I ever trivialize my kids’ feelings, thinking their reaction is not appropriate to the given situation?
* Have I ever had my feelings trivialized by another?
Oh my, that hit home!! Now if I can only remember it when the next situation arises. Gonna beg my Guardian Angel to help. Thank you, Claire, SO many of your messages are true lessons for me! xoxo
Oh, Mom! You’re the best listener on the planet, and you ALWAYS affirm my thoughts and feelings. Thank you for that!!!
Thank you for this post! I am lucky to have friends and family members who do validate and respect my difficulties (I choose carefully!). I just need to stop beating *myself* up over it since my problems are hardly the end of the world. They still hurt. I pray your struggle will be resolved soon.
Thank you, Susan. My point exactly – our issues are all relative. Obviously we shouldn’t wallow, but our feelings still matter. Glad you’ve surrounded yourself with good friends!
I love this post, Claire! I feel like I try to get my kids to brush off their feelings often. I need to remember that their feelings matter just as much as anyone else’s. I’m sorry that you learned this lesson by someone not validating your feelings. You definitely have the right to feel how you’re feeling and your struggles are real. 🙂 xoxo
Thanks, Pam. I’ve LONG been guilty of brushing my kids’ feelings off, thinking they were overreacting. Hopefully this little lesson will keep me mindful of never doing that again! And thanks for affirming my feelings. 🙂
So typical of you, Claire … an honest admittance of how your friend’s smug, dismissive response to the painful feelings you shared hit you (oh, have we all been there) and how God used that experience to broaden your understanding of Jocelyn’s real hurt and upset, over what you described as a trivial incident. Praise God, you did come through for your darling daughter at a time when she truly needed, first of all, your reassurance, comfort and support, my definition of what a loving mom is called to do. And although you put the cart before the horse in trying to talk her out of those painful feelings first, you are a superb and inspiring mom to have apologized to your daughter, and your reward was witnessing Jocelyn’s joy when you assured her you were not belittling her genuine feelings. I am convinced it was when she knew you acknowledged those feelings with real empathy and love, that she could now let go of them and realize their inability to control her. One of the principles I’ve learned over the years from both psychologists as well as spiritual writers and which I’m still trying to practice is that before we can heal even the most trivial of emotional upsets within ourselves, we must, first, with brutal honesty acknowledge that upset, own it, face it, feel it, “YES … I AM truly ANGRY, DISAPPOINTED, HURT, etc. before we can successfully move towards the releasing of that pain. That’s what I LOVE about our ever listening, tender God … no hurt is too small to share with Him, and for sure He knows how and is ever ready to heal that hurt. To me, Claire, you are never more like our loving God as when at that moment you showed your love and understanding to your vulnerable, hurting daughter, so young in this challenging game of life.
You are absolutely right, Jackie! There is something about admitting what we’re feeling that enables us to begin to heal. And when someone affirms and supports us in that process, the healing goes that much faster. The interesting thing is: Once I told Jocelyn I supported her response, she never actually took the action. I think more than action, she needed love and support. Oh the things that little girl teaches me on a daily basis…
another thought provoking piece Claire. As always.
Perhaps, when words do not come easily the best we can do is to simply just listen,
It is a rare person who can do this effectively.
You are an awesome mother and your kids are lucky to have such a caring Mom.
I’m so touched you read and commented, Robin! Thank you! I remember you giving the advice a long time ago to Kayleen to “Just listen,” when her friend was going through a hard time. You have been one wise mom all along and Kayleen was so fortunate to get such great advice from you!
actually, I read every word you write!
No one person has all the answers and we can all learn from each other
I hope you have a fantastic Mothers Day!
Happy Mother’s Day to you too! And thank you for reading every word. I can’t tell you how much that means to me!!! Can’t wait to celebrate the big event next week. So honored to be included!!!