“A Parent is Only as Happy as Their Unhappiest Child”
I have heard this statement quite a few times recently and it’s really struck a chord. In fact it feels like it reverberates around my head numerous times a day at the moment.
You see over the last few weeks our eldest has become more angry and more anxious than usual. He always had a tendency to be a bit of a worrier (a bit like his mother) but it’s taken on a whole new dimension of late. As well as this his temper has become much shorter than usual too and angry outbursts more frequent. Both are signs that he is not so happy go lucky as usual and this plays on my mind. I desperately want to help him.
As I dropped him off at school on Friday and headed off to playgroup with the twins I was conscious that the girls weren’t getting the most cheery Mummy they could have. I also knew it was because I was worried about their big brother. I realised that a little bit of me was in the classroom with him. I was ruminating; trying to analyse his feelings, look for ways to help him. I was replaying the morning’s conversations in my mind again and again. His angst about swimming lessons, ski school (we’re not going to the Alps for another 7 months!) and being late to school to name but a few of his concerns verbalised already that day. Things that may not seem like such a big deal to an adult but that had become blown up into huge things by my boy.
And so the joy of my Friday off work had faded a little. I was mirroring his unhappiness and felt incredibly sorry for him as I watched him, through the window, sitting down to his school work. I knew I wanted to be 100% present with the girls that day but I was distracted. Still mulling over my boy’s woes.
And I guess this is what the statement above means. We have a tendency to take on the emotions of those nearest and dearest to us – especially those of our children. It’s natural and in fact, to an extent, to be welcomed.
Showing empathy for our children helps build connection and so I tried not beat myself up about being slower to get into the ‘Friday feeling’ with the girls that day.
However, we still had fun in the end. You see, yes I want to be empathetic, yes I want to help our eldest as best I can, but I also need to remember that there are two other little ones who need me too.
Sharing your attention among all your children can be very tricky. If you have more than one child how do you manage?
Does the mood of one of your children sometimes effect you and the whole family?
If you have any tips about this I’d love to hear them.