One theme that I have addressed with many of my clients is the difference between feelings and FEELINGS. Feelings are emotions we have in the moment, like happy, angry, sad, scared, et cetera. FEELINGS are how we feel towards something. FEELINGS are not fleeting, they are deep, and they are continuous.
Kids especially do not always realize that feelings and FEELINGS are different. This usually becomes evident when I say to a client, “You know your mom loves you even when you’re in trouble, right?”
You would be surprised how many children are confused by this statement. I have gotten the response, “What? No she doesn’t.” I am sure you can imagine the look on the parent’s face when this interaction happens.
I explain, Mom’s feeling in that moment might be anger, frustration, or disappointment, but her FEELING about you is always love. “If she didn’t love you, why would she care if you know how to make good choices?”
The book I Love You Even When I’m Mad can help you start this conversation if you are not sure how to bring it up.
Parents, do your children know the difference between feelings and FEELINGS? Do they know that your love is unconditional even as your emotions change? Find a time when your child is not in trouble, and ask them. Listen and validate their response, and make sure they know your unconditional FEELINGS.