Parenting is hard.
But it's rarely more difficult than when your child is having a tantrum.
I remember once when Thing 1 screamed non-stop for TWO DAYS while we were visiting Scotland. Ah, the serenity.
It's embarrassing. But it shouldn't be. In fact, last year, actor Justin Baldoni shared a photo of he and his dad with his daughter and the big lesson he learned from his father about such moments.
In it, the two men stare down at Baldoni's daughter. She is wailing on the floor. about who knows about what with her body twisted into a classic tantrum pose.
The men look calm. Accepting. They are certainly not embarrassed despite the group of people around them.
When Baldoni posted the photo to his Facebook, he recalled the way his father used to act during the actor's own tantrums, and how it helped shape him into the man he is today.
"My dad always let me feel what I needed to feel, even if it was in public and embarrassing," he wrote.
"I don't remember him ever saying 'You're embarrassing me!' or 'Dont cry!' It wasn't until recently that I realized how paramount that was for my own emotional development. Our children are learning and processing so much information and they don't know what to do with all of these new feelings that come up. I try to remember to make sure my daughter knows it's OK that she feels deeply. It's not embarrassing to me when she throw tantrums in the grocery store, or screams on a plane. I'm her dad…not yours.
Let's not be embarrassed for our children. It doesn't reflect on you. In fact.. we should probably be a little more kind and patient with ourselves too. If we got out everything we were feeling and allowed ourselves to throw tantrums and cry when we felt the need to then maybe we'd could also let ourselves feel more joy and happiness. And that is something this world could definitely use a little more of."
This photo shows that advice in action.
There is a lot of pressure on both men and women to be the perfect parents but this doesn't mean your child never gets angry or frustrated or confused. As Baldoni writes, toddlers are really just beginning to learn and explore the world's boundaries. There's naturally going to be a lot of swirling emotions as they encounter things and situations they can't understand.
We need to teach them not to hide those feelings or push them down for fear of ridicule because that kind of emotion management will come back to haunt them as adults. Working through our feelings, is an important skill to learn.
Surely the emotional well-being of our children is worth a few stares from people we'll never seen again.
I'll be honest, I wish I had have seen this post when I was the father of tantrum-age kids but there's still a lot to learn from it for the future.