Expressing Your Emotions

Did you grow up in a household where children were “seen and not heard?”  This philosophy actually originated in the 15th century where children (particularly girls) were meant to stay silent unless spoken to. It’s amazing to me how that thought passed from generation to generation for so many centuries. I doubt that the philosophy is held as strongly today as it was back then, but still….

I grew up in a household where, although I wasn’t required to be silent, I wasn’t necessarily encouraged to share my thoughts and emotions either. I don’t blame my Mom or Dad. It’s how they grew up and how they learned to parent.

That’s part of the reason I am so happy to see our son and daughter-in-law (Brian/Melissa) raising their children so differently. Owen and Ella (5 and 3 years old, respectively) are being trained to actually identify their feelings, and then not only to express them but to be able to do so safely.

Last week I witnessed the perfect example of this. Brian, Melissa, Owen, Ella, and I were all in the car. Owen suggested we play a game, “I Spy with My Little Eye.”  If you are unfamiliar with this game, the rules state that one person says: “I spy with my little eye something…”  and then they can add a color or shape or anything they want. Everyone else has to guess what is being “spied.”  When it was Melissa’s turn, she said, “I spy something with my little eye that is gold.”  Both Owen and Ella started guessing.  After Owen stopped, Ella kept guessing. After several more wrong guesses by Ella, Melissa reached back from the front seat where she was seated and rubbed Ella’s shoe. What she had spied was on the shoe. This, obviously, was a hint for Ella. 

The following conversation ensued:

Owen: MOM, that’s cheating!

Melissa: I was just giving Ella a little hint. She’s 3, and this is a hard game for her, and you had stopped guessing……..Do you think calling someone a Cheater, without knowing their intent, is a good thing to do?

Owen: No.

Melissa: Do you think calling someone a Cheater could hurt their feelings?

Owen: Yes

(long pause)

Melissa: Do you know you can apologize to Mommy?

Owen: Yes, I’m sorry.

Melissa: How do you feel right now?

Owen: Mad

Melissa: Why are you mad?


Owen is a rule follower. There aren’t many, if any, shades of gray in his life. He not only identified his feelings but expressed them because he knew he could do so in a safe environment. This, of course, isn’t the first time I’ve seen him do this. And Ella, even at 3, is very capable in this area as well.

I once witnessed Owen take a toy that Ella was playing with. When he was told to give back the toy to Ella, he did and said he was sorry. Ella said, “I forgive you, but I’m still mad.”

And that’s perfectly okay.

But what a gift. Being taught to express yourself at such a young age AND feeling safe to do so.

How about you? Did you grow up being shushed? Or were you encouraged to say what was on your mind?



Melissa, Ella, Owen, Briwn at Ella’s Gymnastics Performance

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Comments (6)

  1. It sounds like Owen and Ella have amazing parents! Love your stories! I was like you. Not really shushed but also not encouraged to speak out about my feelings.

    May 10, 2019 at 11:00 am
  2. Janet

    We kids were very blessed when growing up. My Dad was an only child and my Mom was in a family where the kids were pretty much hushed….she didn’t even realize her father loved her until the day he died….it was sad. And she never was allowed to have a sleepover with other kids. The result was two parents that found a way to raise six great kids being allowed to express their feelings. They had the perfect recipe in raising kids somehow where we knew the limits….and we were able to pass the limits with the knowledge that there would be consequences (of course I was a very obedient one so I never stepped over that line!). It was a matter if you were willing to take the “punishment” once you crossed the line! I will never forget when my sister wanted to go to a guy friend’s house with another guy and no parents there to have dinner. They were guy friends with no “romance” and she was in high school. Here choice was to go knowing there would be consequences. When she got home…she was grounded for two weeks…and she knew it would happen but to her it was worth it! Then once my Dad and brother had a disagreement regarding some weather “concept” and my Grandmother was there. My brother disagreed with my Dad and he laid out his case….my Grandmother was horrified after all in her mind kids were meant to be seen and not heard. But my Dad and Mom allowed us to have our own minds and be able to disagree and tell them they are wrong….we were never disrespectful! My Grandmother did not speak to my brother for weeks…it actually was kind of funny. I will say one thing, we kids never smoked, drank (in excess or before of age), never in trouble with the law, excelled for the most part in school, always respected others and have all been married for over 35 years! Pretty good statistics for parenting in my book!

    May 10, 2019 at 11:31 am
  3. Karen, they are great parents and in my opinion teaching their children in a great way on how to express their feeling and opinions. They will shine (they already do) when they are adults because of the way they are being brought up. xo

    May 11, 2019 at 7:45 pm
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