Joanne Kraft, a fellow The M.O.M Initiative mentor mom, has a new book out The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. I asked her to share with you a snippet from her book. No matter how old your child is, it’s hard to see him or her sad or unhappy. The mom in you wants to fix everything and make them happy again. But as Joanne reminds us, sometimes you just need to let them cry.
Joanne uses an example from Mary and Martha that I also share in my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ. Jesus cried right along with them when their brother Lazarus died, but God had a bigger plan then they could see at the immediate moment. Teaching our children how to deal with disappointments and discouragement might just be God’s plan for us stepping out of the way and letting them cry.
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Let Them Cry
By Joanne Kraft
My teenage son walked down the stairs with a frown on his face. College classes have gotten the best of him it seems. My pep talk with him yesterday apparently wasn’t as good as I thought it was. My future as a motivational speaker went down in a fizzle.
When I brought my first child home from the hospital, cries were immediately met with a soothing rub and my full attention until the whimpers quieted. From baby tears to teenage sulking, I want to make my child happy. I’ve exhausted myself trying to make this happen. I’ve finally realized I can’t make any of my kids happy.
Here’s the clue you may be doing something wrong—when you’re exhausting yourself doing it.
Years ago, when my mom watched me try to stop my kids from shedding tears she gave me my first golden bit of wisdom, “Let them cry. It’s okay. They will be fine.”
When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus had died, Jesus didn’t come that very day but waited two more days before heading back to them in Judea. When he arrived, he discovered the funeral had already taken place. Lazarus had been dead four days and two very heartbroken sisters who had been crying for days were in deep mourning.
Not only were Mary and Martha in tears, but it’s in this passage of Scripture where we find the shortest sentence in the Bible—Jesus wept. Two words packed with incredible meaning. Even our Savior shed tears. Even He felt sad.
Here’s a few things I learned to do when my toddlers or teenagers were hurt or sad.
- Let them hurt. Is there anything more contrary to mothering than allowing a child to cry or hurt? But, it’s much needed for their development. Come alongside and give them a hug or sympathize, “Yes, I know you’re sad.” Or, “It’s okay to be sad. Sometimes mommy is sad, too.” And if a child is older, maybe you can empathize, “I understand how hard this is for you.” Or, “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” Follow up with a personal story of your own about a past hurt or grievance.
- Let them heal. Give them a little time. Don’t let their hurt sabotage your life. Give them space but look for signs of healing: interest in friends, playing again, laughter, an appetite, and conversation.
- Let them lean. When a child is young, they lean on mom and dad for everything. As they grow older we need to let go so they can lean on God. I can’t expect my adult child to have BIG faith if they have little experience in leaning on a BIG GOD. If I answer their every whim and whimper, I become God in their eyes. Do you want to grow their faith? Let them lean on the only ONE who can meet and exceed their expectations. (Psalm 62:5)
I have to remind myself, my daughters and sons must feel pain while in my keep. God grows us through pain. How else will they know how to navigate life’s storms as adults? So, precious mamas, let your child cry today. Let them hurt and let them heal and make sure to let them lean on God. Scripture reminds us there’s “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) Maybe, today it’s time to let them cry. I promise they’ll be okay.
“A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
Joanne Kraft is a mom of four and the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and her latest book The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. She’s been a guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, and her articles have appeared in ParentLife, In Touch, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits. Visit her at JoanneKraft.com.
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