I want you to feel heartbreak.
What a horrible thing to say to someone, right? Especially someone you love; someone you would die for; someone you birthed.
But, yes, as a matter of fact, I am telling you to wish that for your child; to desire they feel heartbreak — and not heartache, I want that sh*t to get entirely broken.
What a witch of a mom I must be. What angry spiteful person I am.
Or, maybe not.
Whether you like it or not, your child is, sooner rather than later, going to have their soft-as-fudge heart broken, not only by an eventual boyfriend or girlfriend, but by a same-gender friend who is jealous of them, a bully who enjoys tearing others down, a teacher who unintentionally unleashes their frustration, and by the loss of someone or something they love.
Whether you like it or not, your child is going to feel rejection. Not only by universities that don’t accept them but by people who don’t either. People that make your child feel like they aren’t good enough.
It seems like such bad parenting to say it, but as much as I want to clock these heartbreakers with a fist of rings, I just as badly want my children to experience these things.
While I am confident that my parents never desired for me to feel sorrow or experience failure, having experienced such at different points throughout my life (to entirely no fault of them) has only served to build up my morale, grant me courage, and strengthen my will to succeed at life despite any love-crushing events that I’ve encounter.
Here is why we should welcome heartbreak for our children:
- It is inevitable. Heartache and heartbreak will happen early and often for your child. When they are younger, it will be your negation to little Johnny that causes his despair. As your child enters elementary-age, an unkind peer may cause them distress. When middle school rolls around, there will sadly be far too many mean girls and boys longing to torment your child as a way to cope with their insecurities. In high school, as you may have feared, it will be your child’s romantic relationships taking a toll on their heart and causing them to question their self-worth. And, guess what? That’s just where the trauma to their poor heart begins. Loss of pets or family members will cause immense sadness. A college rejection letter or a job loss may occur. Even the loss of respect from or for a dear friend will cause pain.
- It forces introspection. Every single bit of anguish that we feel forces us to try and understand life, the people in it, and ourselves a bit more. Once we are incited to dig deeper into the inner workings of ourselves and others, we can better predict people and situations which may cause us sorrow and have a better plan in place for handling it.
- It prompts relationship improvements. Improvements in the relationship we have with the heartbreaker or heartbreaking event, the relationship we have with those supporting us through such, and the relationship we have with ourselves on how we manage our emotions and regulate our responses.
- It arms them for the “real world”. This is both scary and exciting. It will be their past experiences with sorrow that enables them to balance the extremes that life will throw at them.
Do I look forward to my tearful daughter running into my embrace because something or someone lowered her self-esteem? Hell no, but I sure as heck will monopolize the opportunity to build her right back up and ensure her confidence high, yet humble.
Can I foreshadow my son feeling despondent for having been made fun of for saying “no” to a peer pressure situation? Most definitely, but I will praise the heck out of him for being so courageous in the face of judgmental onlookers.
Will I be happy when any of my children fall to their knees because this life and someone or something in it hurt them to their core? Of course not, but I will share with them about the occurrences that made Mommy fall to her knees and remind them to look at me today, still standing, just as they will be.
Do I anticipate that heartbreak will happen? Absolutely.
Do I contend that my children will learn from it? Yes.
Will I share with them just how tragedies — big and small — have affected me? You can bet on it.
So heartbreakers, I welcome you; I welcome you to visit my children, and this is why: Heartbreak has the unique capability of driving change and making people fluid, which is necessary to navigate this life successfully.
Nicole Merritt is a mother of three and the Owner and Founder of jthreeNMe, an imperfectly authentic peek at real-life marriage, parenting, and self-improvement. jthreeNMe is raw, honest, empowering, inspiring, and entertaining; it’s like chicken soup for those that are exhausted, over-stressed and under-inebriated, yet still utterly happy. Nicole’s work has been featured by Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, BLUNTmoms, Thought Catalog, Everyday Family, Motherly & many others. You can follow Nicole at jthreeNMe and on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.