By: - February 5, 2013

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when i feel scaredI took some notes while listening to Amy Monroe interview Carissa Woodwyk at the Tapestry Women’s Event a couple weeks ago, and I keep coming back to two quotes from Carissa.

As Carissa reflected on her childhood she said, “I promised that no one and nothing is going to make me feel afraid again because if I feel afraid that might come true.”

Later she said, “I wish my parents had modeled how to deal with anger, disappointment, forgiveness and mercy.”

Her words both made me feel compassion for my daughter and convicted about the role I play in how she learns to process her emotions.

I felt compassion for the child who is scared to go to bed, scared of the monsters, scared to be alone. I could see how though I saw no logical, tangible reason for being scared, my child could not want to “feel afraid again because if [she] feels afraid that might come true.” So what do you? Keep convincing her that she’s safe and telling her not to be scared – doesn’t work. We have to support her and model how to deal with feeling afraid.

One day she told me something puzzling. After much prompting she finally said, “I had a nightmare and a big blue hairy monster told me that you don’t love me anymore.” First, a big blue hairy monster is scary, second, someone telling you that your parents don’t love you anymore is scary, too. It doesn’t make sense to me; it was a dream; it wasn’t real. But it’s what she’s feeling and she needs my help and she told me. I want her to keep telling me, talking to me.

And then Carissa’s second quote, her desire for her parents to have modeled how to handle feelings, leads to some self-reflection. Anger, disappointment, forgiveness, mercy -those are tough things to model. (I do know that my girls tolerance of each other depends on me figuring out how best to teach and model mercy.) While I work on recognizing my own feelings, so I can teach my children how to recognize and process their own, I have found some books by Cornelia Maude Spelman that we are already using in our home:

When I Feel Scared

When I Feel Jealous

When I Feel Angry

When I Feel Sad

When I Miss You

When I Care About Others

When I Feel Good About Myself

I found some of these titles at my local library, and by the time we made it home from the library, we already had the perfect opportunity to read When I Feel Jealous. It will always blow my mind that when a little bear talks to the momma bear about her feelings that makes more sense than when I try to get my own daughter to talk about her feelings. But progress is progress, I will take it as we continue to navigate all our feelings.

Also Found In: A Mother's Heart, Tapestry Blog