Of course this is supposed to be funny, but there is actually a major hint of truth to it.
Poopies, if you’re anything like me, you mask much of what you internalize with humor and sarcasm. I think I say “I’m only kidding” about ten times a day. Try as I may to emote in a completely healthy, functional way, this is just how I’m wired. I tend to crack jokes and glaze over things with levity in an attempt to keep things light and funny, but there are definitely times when I wish I could just meltdown and allow myself to be a vulnerable mess. For most of my life I’ve never questioned my emotional constitution. I’ve just chalked it up to this is how I am and there’s not much I can do to change it. But the problem is, that won’t fly anymore. Why? Well for starters, because I don’t want my kids to turn out like that. I want them to wear their heart on their sleeves and not deprive themselves of experiencing whatever feeling they are having when they need to express it.
Humor is definitely an essential component to our lives and one that I would never want to replace. But being funny and trying to laugh over things that should potentially be discussed, dissected, explained and solved isn’t a great example to set for my girls. It’s not that I’m unwilling to have the complex, deep conversations necessary for their development or that I’m unable to dig deep and show my feelings, it’s just that I’ve used humor as a coping mechanism for so long that I think I’ve blurred the line a bit between what is funny and what might be just plain, old dysfunction.
This sommee card above is of course a joke, but how many of us, if we’re really honest with ourselves, do genuinely fear that we might be screwing up our kids with our own issues? Even a year ago, I wouldn’t have given this much thought. But my girls are now reaching ages where they are taking real notice of all my behaviors and reactions to things and often model themselves after me. Most of the time I set a good example, but I’m noticing more and more lately that they are truly little emotional sponges and look to mom and dad for how to respond to their own internal feelings about things. And it’s constant. There is never a time lately where I don’t feel like they are looking to me for how to handle something. And it’s A LOT of pressure.
I worry that if I crack jokes too often or make light of certain situations then their feelings, whatever those might be, might not be validated. And I NEVER want that for them, as I often struggled in my own adolescence to have my own feelings taken seriously. It’s just that I struggle when life feels too heavy or serious and I don’t ever want my girls to feel they’re being raised in a negative, oppressive or tense environment. But I think perhaps I’ve shown them by going so far in the other direction that there isn’t a time to express negativity or concern or worry or fear - which are all normal, healthy things to experience throughout your life, especially when you’re young and unsure about the world around you and what to expect from new people and unfamiliar situations.
So, what am I to do? I don’t want to stop laughing and being me, but I also don’t want to raise two young girls who grow up adapting their mother’s use of sarcasm as a coping mechanism. I think it’s much healthier to let it all out and not keep your feeling tucked inside of you, creating an emotional shield around you with jokes and humor. But how do I change something that is so innate in me? How do I make them see that there is a healthier way to emote? I certainly allow them to express their feelings as often as they need to, but I don’t think they see me expressing my own as often as they should. As much as I’m encouraging them to talk about their feelings and be open with me, emotionally, I’m not doing such a good job sharing mine in return.
Will this make them emotionally dysfunctional? Is modeling behavior the end all be all in parenting? Will they inevitably grow up like me even if I’m proactively teaching and telling them different things than they might actually be observing? No matter what we do or say, will they still end up just like us????