A few weeks ago the kids and I went to see the movie Inside Out. We had been excited to see it for months after watching the preview before our family thanksgiving movie. Then, they hype before the movie was so intense we all went in expecting it to rock our worlds.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie is adorable and quite honestly anything with Amy Poeler (even just her voice) gets thumbs up from this crowd. But to say we were underwhelmed by it would be accurate.
I kept quiet about it so as not to ruin it for the kids, but then it came out that they all felt the same way. No one hated it, but no one loved it like we thought we would and no one considered it to be as overwhelmingly groundbreaking as so many others have.
I’ve spent a while thinking about why. Then one night before bed The Husband was sharing a story about how at a swim meet he handled a near melt down of our youngest by identifying that the boy was afraid but that Dad had full confidence in him that he could face that fear and do what he came to do-namely, swim. I was so impressed with the way The Husband and the boy handled the whole situation but I wasn’t really surprised. I mean, that’s what we do. As parents, we try to help our kids understand what they’re feeling. We always validate whatever it is and sometimes we force their hand so that they learn how to maneuver within or around our outside of those feelings.
The other night, my baby was scared, but rather than let him berate himself for that fear (which he is apt to do) or give into that fear and miss an opportunity, The Husband just explained that he understood the fear and it was fine, but that he also believed so much in our boy’s ability to overcome it, that he left him on his own to do just that. He didn’t coax, or cajole or drag him out of it. Instead, he just communicated his belief in the boy and then left the rest up to him.
From day one, since I read all those books about what all the different baby cries mean, I have considered it my most important job to figure out what is making my little people tick and then as they’ve grown help them recognize it and work around it. After all, we are nothing more than an outward manifestation of all we are feeling inside. If we don’t teach our kids how to understand and know who they are, then what good are we?
Long before Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith and Bill Hader and Mindy Khaling put voices to our feelings, we’d already done that here in our house and it seems to be working pretty well.
The movie Inside Out is great and for sure it provides an outstanding opportunity to talk to kids about emotions and navigating the world through them. And, yes, perhaps the theme is groundbreaking. We just didn’t realize how groundbreaking we already were right here at home.
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We haven’t seen the movie yet either, but when our daughter (19 years old) went, she said something similar. One of my parenting values: to help our kids identify and understand their feelings so that they can live a full, rich life that is enhanced by their emotions and not shut down by them. I was raised by a mother who was terrified be her own emotions and overwhelmed by mine. Still dealing with that, but I was not going to shutdown or deny my kids full access to their emotions. What you and your husband and doing in raising your little humans sounds similar.
It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure! Thanks for the encouragement.