As a parent, when you feel upset or about to cry, you may be tempted to suppress those emotions or hide your tears from your children. It’s completely natural to want to shield your kids from the unpleasant parts of life, but there are actually some benefits to crying in front of your kids.

Last year, a popular blogger wrote a post on Facebook about letting her children see her cry that apparently went viral. She wrote, “on the weekend I watched a terribly sad documentary with my children and as tears were welling up in mine and my daughter’s eyes my son put his arms around us both, patting and rubbing our backs… I realized that my kids are completely ok with human emotion, not traumatized from seeing their mum cry, they care and understand that this is life… There is such comfort for a child knowing that their rock can break down, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t secure. And if we can’t be there for each other why are we here at all?”

Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at more reasons why it can be healthy for your kids to see you cry sometimes and the best ways to handle these kinds of situations when they arise.

Normalize Feelings

A professional counselor once said, “If a child sees a parent or caregiver cry in response to a certain event or situation, it can be beneficial because this allows kids to see that it’s OK to express your feelings,”

Normalizing feelings is an essential part of raising emotionally intelligent children. If a parent cries in response to a situation that also upsets the children, such as the death of a grandparent, letting them witness this grief helps the kids to realize that they aren’t alone in their sadness.

To buttress this point, the counselor also said, “Because children don’t have tons of lived experience, a lot of times when they’re having different thoughts or feelings, it makes them ask, ‘Is this normal? Is something wrong with me? Why am I so sad and why has this affected me in this way?’

Experiencing a sense of collective grief with you, the parent communicates to them that their sadness is normal and it helps them to learn to cope better.

In fact, when children see their parents cry, it humanizes them in the eyes of the children and helps them realize that adults can also be affected by sad things, which is perfectly okay.

Let Them Know You’ll Be Okay

Your children will usually be confused and scared if they see you really upset. Afterward, it is important for you to explain to the best of your ability, given the age of your child, that you had an emotional moment but that you are alright, and you are going to continue to be alright.

Don’t assume that your child is too young to understand things like emotions. When you talk to your children about your own emotional experiences and how you have learned to regulate them, you are both teaching them a life skill and giving them permission to talk to you about their own experiences, which is a really healthy habit.

These kinds of conversations open up that channel to strengthen your parent-child bond.

In addition to offering you children assurance that everything will be okay and giving some context to explain your crying, as a parent you should also specifically ask your kids about their own feelings. You can also check in with them, with a simple question like, “How do you feel seeing Mommy or Daddy cry?”

Don’t Limit Emotional Talk to Only Girls

Someone once said that humans need to be given permission to experience and honor their emotional experiences. This is an interesting thought, considering that many different cultures and families in Nigeria communicate messages of shame around the expression of emotions.

This kind of negative messages especially affects young men. What do I mean by this? Many Nigerian families follow the mentality that the only emotion a male child is allowed to experience and show is anger.

As parents of young boys, I encourage you to pay close attention to the emotional experiences of your male kids and let them know that it’s okay for them to experience and discuss the full range of emotions they and you have as human beings.CRY IN FRONT OF YOUR KIDS

Keep It Age Appropriate

As much as we are encouraging you to explain the reason for your tears to your kids, t is important to only give them information that would be appropriate for them and not make them worry or be afraid of losing their stability and safety.

Ensure that it is not more than the child can handle but it is still important to offer some context to help your kids understand that its not their fault.

I know this can be very difficult sometimes because you don’t want to share with them how scary and bad the world can be sometimes. But the problem is that when children don’t have enough information to understand what they are seeing, the start filling in the gaps. And the results almost always ends up worse than what you might have been trying to avoid in the first place.

So while you don’t have to say something like, “our landlord is kicking us out,” you may want to say something like, “I know you’ve seen Daddy cry a lot. I’m just having a tough time, but it’s going to be OK.”

Don’t Do It Too Often

While it can be healthy for your kids to see you cry sometimes, it is possible to take it to an unhealthy extent. If kids see their caregivers or parents crying excessively or too frequently, it could send the message that something is terribly wrong.CRY IN FRONT OF YOUR KIDS

Kids tend to feel guilt when they see their parents cry because they want to do something about it but they don’t know how because they are kids. This might make them feel helpless as they wonder, “How do I make this stop?” and they experience fear that makes them think, “What’s happening to my parents? What’s going to happen to me?”

So next time you feel the need to bawl your eyes out, remember what has been written here today.

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