One day I just sat down on the sofa and cried — a lot — for no reason. Instead of doing what I typically do as a psychotherapist, which is to jump into solving mode to “get myself out of this,” I just allowed myself time to cry. I did this because I had faith that “this too shall pass.” Actually, maybe it was more of an experiment; I wondered what would happen if I just surrendered to my sadness and didn’t try to fix it.

Not surprisingly, it did pass. I witnessed some amazing things with my children, and remembered some basic tenets of allowing emotions to pass through us, which I’d like to share with you.

Children are loving, empathetic, caring little people — give them an opportunity to empathize with you.

Just when I felt done with making another snack, zipping another coat, or using clever words instead of my sour inside voice, I saw a wonderful side of my children. For example, one day while sitting at the kitchen table with teary eyes, my younger son, without asking for any help (which is really a miracle), changed into his “fancy clothes,” figured out how to play a song I like on the stereo, found his toy microphone, smiled, and starting singing like no one was watching.

I would love to hear stories of when your children helped you through tears. Please go ahead and post them either on my Facebook page or in the comments below.

Be emotionally honest in front of your children, and give them an opportunity to empathize.

Show your children what it looks like to have big feelings and how to help yourself when that happens. If you aren’t sure how to help yourself, also be honest about that and share with your children (age-appropriately) how you are seeking the help you need. Oh, and when you are feeling very angry, go ahead and do that in front of your kids, but make sure not to be scary with your angry feelings. Try growling, rubbing your hands, and just saying “I’m angry.”

When we take the risk to admit feeling sad, scared or angry, people want to help.

Open up to anyone you feel safe around to be vulnerable with big feelings. I was so concerned with not complaining or being a “negative nelly” that I wasn’t being honest with how I felt. When I finally did that, the outpouring of support was overwhelming.

There is someone out there who wants to hear you. I invite you to take the risk of finding that person.

Big feelings are fluid — they will not stay if we give them an opportunity to move along.

Have you ever said, “I don’t have time for this sh*t!”? Life has a way of making us have time for “this sh*t,” if we refuse to, doesn’t it? The more we try to avoid our big feelings, that important conversation, or our overwhelming stress, the more it will press on us. It is normal to have big feelings — what we do with those is so important. When we allow them to move along safely, we can “process” the sadness, anger or fear and learn from that experience.

If you aren’t sure how to allow or process big feelings, I suggest contacting a trusted counselor or psychotherapist for help. You could also visit your local bookstore and look for a book that seems to jump out at you.

Write, dance, sing, draw or shout it out.

Journaling, drawing, listening to or singing a song you feel connected with are excellent ways to move feelings through safely. If you aren’t sure how to start journaling, I suggest getting a blank page and writing “I am angry because…” / “I am sad because…” or “I really need…” at the top of the paper and see what comes out. Don’t censor yourself! Allow swears, the naming of names, and the works to flow out. You can always burn the page safely afterward if you are concerned others might see it.

If you are still breathing, there is still hope.

There is always hope and some way for things to improve, even if we can’t see it in that moment — trust that. We now have so much wonderful information about parenting, relationships and communication. It is possible to heal open wounds, repair strained relationships, and thrive while raising young children.

Keep breathing and carry on bravely.


If you are losing sleep, feeling overwhelmed and weepy, and not sure how to pull yourself out of your slump after about two weeks (or sooner if need be), it is time to ask for professional help. Don’t feel too ashamed to reach out to a trusted helper.

If you would like some pointers on how to empathize with your children when you are feeling tapped out, here are my suggestions for doing that. And this is what I have learned to get out of survival mode and into thriving