Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Confronting Our Feelings




Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.  ~Mister Rogers

The images we "sell" to young children, especially boys, about strength, are problematic. Superheroes, cowboys, knights, and assorted other tough guys have the muscles and fearlessness that we've come to associate with masculine strength. Rarely, do we see them express any emotion other than righteous anger, and rarely do we see them solve their problems in any way other than physically, usually through fighting.

The classic social-media criticism of this is that it teaches our children violence, and maybe it does, but I'm unaware of any convincing research to support the idea that media images of this sort of cartoon violence, or dramatic play that comes from it, leads to violent adults. No, the real concern for me isn't violence as much as how limiting these images are when it comes to the "acceptable" expression of emotion, especially for men and boys, leaving little choice but to channel even our grief through anger.

Of course, media images are only part, hopefully a small part, of our children's emotional development. We, as parents and other important adults in children's lives, have a much greater influence, and to the degree that mothers, fathers, and teachers can role model the strength to acknowledge our feelings, talk about them, cry, and seek help and comfort, is the degree to which our children will develop this same strength.


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1 comment:

jaem said...

I'm thankful from all I'm learning from Dr. Gordon Neufeld on this topic. He was the first "expert" I heard that made real room for feelings.

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