A mother on a 10 day work trip calls me in tears.
She has left her 3 year old child at home with her parents.
Her parents say that the child is remarkably well adjusted and comfortable throughout the day.
He only starts crying when she calls.
And then they find it difficult to manage him.
The grandparents have therefore suggested that she stop calling to speak to her son while on the trip.
Of course this is not something the mom wants to do.
And her call is to ask me if she is doing something wrong by calling her son.
It looks like she is doing something wrong because of all his crying.
And it seems like the best thing to do would be to stop calling.
But she just cannot convince herself to do that.
"Should I stop calling?"
She asks me.
My answer -
"NO. Keep calling."
It is extremely difficult to see a child's negative emotions and watch a child cry.
But we must be brave and endure them.
The child is being brave all day.
He is avoiding his fears and sadness and being cheerful and 'normal'
But we cannot take that to mean that he has no fear or sadness.
And he gives vent to his emotions when his mom calls.
That relieves his stress and makes him resilient to face the next day.
It would be wrong to deprive him of this window of being himself for our convenience.
"He is not crying because you are calling."
I tell the mom.
"He is crying because he can.
He is crying because you are his safe space.
Don't take his safe space away from him."
Negative emotions exist.
We have them and so do our children.
We must acknowledge that and embrace them if we want our children to grow up to be emotionally resilient.