During my last Listening Partnership I was feeling very anxious about my son never crying. My listening partner helped me by pointing out that I kept repeating, “He won’t cry,” over and over.
I wondered out loud what those words really meant to me, because they were, in fact, untrue. He cried when he was hurt, he cried when he was frightened or surprised and sometimes, not often, he cried when I held him. More often he hit me, but sometimes he cried.
She asked me what it was about crying that was so important to me. And then I knew. It wasn’t about him at all (pause for shock). It was about me. I wanted him to cry because I never cried, not as an adult, not as a child. It was a source of pride for my mother. I remembered her saying, “She never cries.” It was the brightest light bulb moment ever! I needed him to cry for me.
My whole view of his crying changed in that moment. I didn’t have to worry about how much or how fully he cried. I needed to worry about how much or how fully I allowed myself to cry. I no longer feel like a failure when he doesn’t cry his hurts away, because I know that he knows it’s okay to cry. It’s me who needs convincing.
– a mom in Boise, Idaho