Your kids can’t tell you they’re having a hard time. They don’t know that they are. They don’t understand what’s happening in the world. They don’t appreciate what the disruption to their schedule, to their school, to seeing their friends has really meant. Even if they’re older, even if they could tell you, would they? Do they really understand why they feel the way they do? Or is it just manifesting itself in the form of frustration, resentment, apathy?
Think about yourself. You’re having a rough go of it, aren’t you? Have you called anyone and just admitted it? Have you told your parents? Have you actually articulated your feelings? No, you haven’t. Because it’s hard. And how has your relationship with your spouse or partner or co-parent been? Sunshine and kittens? Better than ever? Why does that sound so unlikely…
Your kids can’t tell you they’re having a hard time. But they can say a lot of other things. They say things like, “Daddy, will you play with me?” They say, “But I don’t want to do homeschool today. I just want to go to the park.” They can say, “I hate this TV show. I hate this dinner. I hate living here.” They can scream. They can cry. They can tell you their tummy hurts, which is often where anxiety and fear reside in young kids. They can refuse to do their chores. They can hit their brothers and sisters. They can wet the bed.
These are all just different ways to tell you they’re having a hard time—mainly by showing you. The question is whether you’re watching or not. Whether you’re listening or not. And whether you’re hearing them when you finally do.