Make Room for Emotions

I had a conversation with my therapist earlier this week because therapy plays a major role in my self-care. My therapist asked how things were going with me being at home with my soon-to-be 4-year-old all day. I let her know that he likes to tell me how he feels. Usually, he is sad or mad that I'm not letting him get an extra cookie or gummy worm. We talk about what causes his feelings, and I explain why he can't have sweet treat every other hour of the day.

After I finished sharing, my therapist made a comment that I wasn't quite prepared for. She said, "That's great because this is the time when most little black boys have their emotions beat out of them."

My mommy heart sank. I knew the words my therapist said were true because I'm a social worker that has spent time teaching mostly Black and Brown middle school students how to identify and express their emotions in a healthy way as part of my violence prevention work. I've seen the struggles of tween and teen boys trying to understand the importance of naming a feeling instead of saying they're in their feelings. I've also heard the comments of their peers saying they're "soft" for wanting to talk about their emotions.

I'm not sure why we socialize male-identified children to detach from their feelings or deny them altogether, but it's definitely not a form of self-care, self-compassion, or self-love. It's quite the opposite.

So yesterday, my son helped me put together a social media carousel exploring his different feelings faces to provide a model for other families to make room for emotions in their homes. It was a hit!

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