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How an image on Facebook changed the way I Parent

Lonely boy being punished in the corner.This image is intentionally toned.

I’m sure it’s happened to all of us- we take a scroll through Facebook and sometimes we see an image that speaks to us. If you’re a parent you’re probably bombarded with tons of parenting images and memes and ideas of different ways to parent, how to be gentle, things to do to help with emotions. You name it, you’ve probably seen it. I’ve seen them too and I usually scroll by and think “that’s a really great idea” and then I keep scrolling and then forget what I read and hardly ever put into action something that I scrolled past on my newsfeed.

Until I saw an image of a little boy crying and a teenager crying. Both of them alone.

The caption read “Perhaps the reason teens isolate themselves when they’re overwhelmed instead of coming to us for help  with their problems is because when they’re toddlers we isolate them when they’re overwhelmed instead of helping them with their problems.”

It stopped me dead in my tracks. I had flashbacks of running to my room as a teenager, slamming the door and crying- by myself. Then in my head I started to hear my husbands voice “she needs to learn to self-soothe, we’ve babied her too long, she needs to cry it out and figure it out on her own”. And then of course the image of my almost 5 year old daughter getting so frustrated and overwhelmed with something and pushing every one of my buttons until I tell her to go to her room until she calms herself down because lets face it- sometimes as a parent we just need a moment so that our heads don’t start spinning and eventually explode.

Just thinking about my daughter as a teenager going through the regular teenage angst, being completely overwhelmed, having no idea how to cope and running to her room to be alone and cry it out just breaks my heart. Sure we all need a good cry from time to time- crying is cathartic it’s part of being human, it can help us feel better. But sometimes being alone WITH someone is so much better. That can look different for each of us. Sometimes when I need a good cry I really want my husband around. I don’t want him to say anything I just want to know that he’s there and that he’ll be there if I want to talk something out when I’m done crying.

When I send my daughter to her room to self-soothe I’m not giving her the opportunity to learn that she can be alone with me. Sure she comes to me when she’s crying about little stuff all the time- but it’s always the big moments that are the hardest aren’t they? So it’s the big moments when she has those HUGE feelings and I’ve been pushed right up to the edge of my breaking points- those are the moments that when she’s older I want her to know that no matter what I will always be there for her.

Lonely boy being punished in the corner.This image is intentionally toned.

So now when something happens that sends her running up the stairs to her room to go and calm herself down you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m chasing her up the stairs, going into her room with her, holding her, hugging her, letting her cry and scream and being ok with her emotions, whatever they are at the time- even if it’s just really not liking mommy right then. It doesn’t hurt my feelings and I’m very clear to tell her that no matter how angry we are at each other I never love her any bit less and she can always come to me no matter what happens. Wether it’s big or small, if it’s something that happens at home, at school, with her friends, with her future boyfriends- I need her to know that everything will always be ok and I will always be there to talk it through no matter how gigantic it feels.

Which of the many posts have spoken to you and made you re-think how you’re doing things? Have you promised yourself you’d do something different this year when it comes to parenting? We all have things we struggle with, sometimes sharing them and realizing you’re not the only one going through them can make us feel better- so share away and we can all help each other!


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