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Today's Family Magazine

MOMMY CHRONICLES: Sometimes, nothing helps more than having a good old cry to let it all out

By Stacy Turner

The other day, my high school senior was struggling to connect online to take a timed exam for one of her college classes.  She spent precious minutes entering the same email and password, clicking the submit button, and receiving the same frustrating error message.  By the time my husband entered the room, her stress-induced meltdown was already well underway.  Once she dried her tears, however, she was able to come at the situation from a different angle, which ultimately proved successful.

Frustration and tears may seem less than ideal in the moment and are sometimes uncomfortable for others to watch.  But as unwanted as they may seem, according to research, tears do serve a valuable purpose.  Tears release endorphins – feel-good chemicals in the body to help ease physical and emotional pain.  Sometimes, we need this reset in order to reframe our current situation.  It’s the body’s way of self-soothing.

Back when they were babies, new parents struggled to determine when to let the baby cry, and when to intervene.  Over time as we became more attuned, we learned when to step in and when it was best to let our little ones settle themselves. Often, this lesson was more painful for the parent than the child, but it was necessary for the development of both.

As toddlers, big emotions coupled with small vocabulary often led to frustration and emotional explosions.  As parents, we used time outs, quiet time, and other cool-down methods to help our kids learn to breathe deeply and settle themselves. But learning how to self-soothe and regulate emotions is important for older kids as well. 

It’s crucial when facing an inevitable setback, a detour from a planned path, when people or situations are frustrating, or when technology doesn’t work the way it should.  It’s important for kids of all ages (parents included) to take time to breathe deeply, cry if needed, then regain control of our composure in order to see the situation with fresh eyes.  Sometimes tears are helpful in clearing up our vision. 

Recently, during a difficult workday, I stepped outside for a walk in the brisk, fresh air to clear my head.  Often, pulling weeds in the garden is therapeutic.  Other times I find relief through quiet time in prayer.  Sometimes, nothing helps more than having a good old cry to let it all out. It’s important to learn what helps you deal with upsets, because they are sure to come. 

Over the years, our kids will have more and more time on their own.  Which means we won’t always be there when they’re facing difficulties.  Hopefully, they’ll be reminded of how they’ve learned to deal with adversity in the past, to help guide them through as they venture out on their own.  And just like when they were tiny, we’ll need to struggle to decide if or when to intervene as they learn to figure it out.  In time, we’ll learn to navigate through to find healing and calm.