We have three daughters and sometimes the drama of all of the emotions feels overwhelming to me and their mom. How can we deal with their emotions in ways that are helpful?
The vast majority of the problems that parents have in the “adventure” of raising children relate to dealing with either the out-of-control emotions of our children or the emotional reactions that we as parents have to our children’s emotions—reactions that we often regret.
The good news is that dealing with emotions provides parents with an invaluable opportunity to help our kids better understand the role of emotional maturity in the process of “becoming conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
When God made us in His image He gave us a mind, a will and emotions. Sad to say, many parents talk a lot about the mind and the will but ignore the emotions, except to correct them when they get it wrong. How helpful is that?
This “problem” is really a sovereign “opportunity” for you to intentionally create a more emotionally-healthy home. To cultivate an environment where it is safe to talk about, experience and express a wide range of emotions, even if they aren’t always expressed in the “right” way. Let’s face it, most of us don’t learn how to get something right until we learn from the times when we’ve gotten it wrong. So even your daughter’s unhealthy or inappropriate expression of an emotion can be an opportunity for them to learn and grow.
Ask God to help you become a more emotionally-intelligent parent, to better understand and manage your own emotions in ways that reflect His power and presence. Help them become more emotionally intelligent by learning when they can trust their emotions and when they can’t. Get in the habit of naming your emotions and helping them name theirs. Share what God teaches you from the times you get it right and when you get it wrong. Let them see how the Holy Spirit can help transform their unhealthy “reactions” that hurt to healthy “responses” that can heal.
When emotions run out of control the immediate reaction of most parents is to try and squelch them. Many years ago my dear friend, author H. Norman Wright, said that, “Whenever you bury an emotion it’s buried alive and it will come back in some way, shape or form.” With patience and prayer you can seize this powerful opportunity to help them identify, understand and manage their God-given emotions in ways that are redemptive and free them to be and become all that God has intended for them.