With a tribe of eight kids, I’ve got a buffet of personalities and quirks and hilarities and twists, turns, and curves when it comes to all the group dynamics of a packed house.
It seems to me there are simply those humans who are criers. Whether they are happy or sad or bored or frustrated, tears are their initial response. It’s not wrong. It’s not bad. It’s not a problem, generally. It’s just part of how they process. If you yourself are a crier, this resonates with you. If you’re not, the instant eye leakage of the crier can be disturbing, concerning, or irritating. But lean into this. There are people, there are kids who.are.just.criers. And it’s okay.
Think about it. When you yourself get rolling on a good cry, would someone hissing at you to stop crying fix it? Are tears something to be punished? Yeah, I didn’t think so. My crier seems to only get more upset if we tell her to stop. What I have found with her is that the more I converse with her and ask her questions, the more it seems her brain needs to calm the crying in order to answer. It also helps if I keep my voice low. She has to quiet the crying in order to hear me. Now understand, my natural reaction to her dramatic crying is to talk louder and stronger and to demand she chill out. But it’s generally counterproductive, and since my goal is to help her manage her emotions, it doesn’t help for me to let my own frustration and irritation leak into the situation.
Often, with our crier, she just needs to cry it out. So we have a system of sorts. If we’re at home and the keening kicks off, I affirm to her that I can see that she’s upset and that she will have some private time to sort herself out and get to a place where we can talk about it. Which is code. For ‘go upstairs to your bedroom and boo-hoo for a while.’ It’s not a time out, per se. It is a reminder that, while emotion and our responses to that emotion are part of how we experience life, how we manage that emotion and the consideration we need to pay to others (and their eardrums) must be considered.
So, yes, if you’re a crier in my house, you can cry. You’re afforded the same respect as, say, a sibling who simply and quietly retreats to process emotion and later comes around to talk about it. Or a sibling who makes a huffy walk around the block to calm down after a flare of anger. But whether you’re a crier, a stuffer, a walker, whatever, here’s the one thing nobody gets away with.
Not having it.
So we actually set some rules ahead of time, when the crier is in a season of calm. I let my crier know that it’s okay to cry, that it’s an expression of emotion, that it’s how she processes and that we’re good with that. But that hollering and wailing and general audiological mayhem won’t be tolerated. Because it fully impedes into other people’s space. It only fuels a hostile environment. And because I have sensitive ears.
Stop wiping your nose on my duvet cover.
And we’ll be all good.