A viral photo of a calm dad and a screaming toddler holds an important parenting lesson
This article originally appeared on 06.23.17
Young kids don’t always pick the best times to have emotional meltdowns.
Just ask any parent.
Grocery stores, malls, and restaurants (or any place with lots of people around) in particular seem to bring out the worst in our little ones, prompting explosive tantrums that can make even the most stoic parent turn red-faced with embarrassment.
But why be embarrassed? It’s just kids being kids, after all.
Actor Justin Baldoni recently shared a poignant photo with his own daughter and the big lesson he learned from his dad about such moments.
Baldoni, best known for his role on the show “Jane the Virgin,” shared a photo his wife, Emily, took while the family was shopping at the local Whole Foods.
In it, Baldoni, along with his father, stares down at his daughter, Maiya. She’s crying and/or wailing on the floor. Who knows about what. Her body is twisted into classic tantrum pose.
The two men look calm. Almost amused, but not in a mocking way.
They certainly are not embarrassed despite a horde of people around them in the store.
When Baldoni posted the photo to his Facebook, he recalled the way his father used to act during the actor’s own tantrums, and how it helped shape him into the man he is today.
“My dad always let me feel what I needed to feel, even if it was in public and embarrassing,” he wrote.
The post continued:
“I don’t remember him ever saying ‘You’re embarrassing me!’ or ‘Dont cry!’ It wasn’t until recently that I realized how paramount that was for my own emotional development. Our children are learning and processing so much information and they don’t know what to do with all of these new feelings that come up. I try to remember to make sure my daughter knows it’s OK that she feels deeply. It’s not embarrassing to me when she throw tantrums in the grocery store, or screams on a plane. I’m her dad…not yours.
Let’s not be embarrassed for our children. It doesn’t reflect on you. In fact.. we should probably be a little more kind and patient with ourselves too. If we got out everything we were feeling and allowed ourselves to throw tantrums and cry when we felt the need to then maybe we’d could also let ourselves feel more joy and happiness. And that is something this world could definitely use a little more of.”
The photo, which Baldoni calls one of his favorites ever, shows the advice in action.
There’s a lot of pressure out there on both men and women to be the perfect parents at all times.
But being the perfect parent doesn’t mean your kid never gets angry or frustrated or confused. As Baldoni writes, toddlers are really just beginning to learn and explore the world’s boundaries. There’s naturally going to be a lot of swirling emotions as they encounter things and situations they can’t understand.
What’s important is we don’t teach them to hide those feelings or push them down for fear of ridicule — that kind of emotion-management can come back to haunt us as adults. Working through our feelings, or just having a good cry right there in the middle of the grocery store, is an important skill to learn.
The emotional health of our children is certainly worth a few weird stares from people we’ll never seen again.
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