Why I Think It's OK to Cry in Front of Your Children When You're in Pain

When I was little and growing up with my parents and two older sisters, I rarely saw my mum and dad cry. I grew up thinking that this was the norm and that parents weren’t allowed to cry because they were supposed to be the strong ones, the tough ones who were there for you when you cried. I never thought when I was an adult and a mother, that I would cry as much as I do or cry in front of my kids.

Being as disabled as I am and living with so much intense pain on a day to day basis, it’s now become part of my daily routine to have a cry. Whether that is because I am frustrated with not being able to do something, go somewhere, to see a friend, to move, or even just because my pain is so bad I can’t physically take it right at that second.

Ten years ago, I was fine and living a normal life full of normal things.  I was working, exercising, socializing, laughing, able to do anything at the drop of a hat. Now I spend most of my day in bed, laying down. I am on meds all day, I can’t do a lot and I am frustrated a lot of the time I am down. I have a lot of pain from the discs in my back, and I have mental and physical pain. It’s a lot to deal with.

The first time my kids (I have two boys, one stepdaughter and two stepsons) saw me cry I felt embarrassed, ashamed, like I needed to hide it. How dare I stoop to such a low level of allowing my kids to see their mum cry. What would they think?! They would surely be scared if mum had lost it.

Mums are supposed to keep it together for their kids. They are supposed to be the strong rock that their kids need. Mums aren’t supposed to fall in a heap! What was I doing?!

After crying in front of my kids many times now, I have learned that it’s not so bad. I now take the view that I think it’s healthy to let your kids see you cry.

I didn’t grow up with parents who cried in front of me, but my parents also didn’t have a chronic illness and weren’t in pain every day like I am now. Maybe if they had been in pain, they would have cried more and it might have been more acceptable.

My current “normal” is living in pain every day from when I wake up to when I fall asleep, living in hospitals, regular major surgeries, doctors offices, specialists offices, being a homebody and never going out. I just have to get through each hour to the end of the day. That wasn’t my normal until about six years ago.

I have been shocked and impressed by my kids and how they react when I have to cry out in pain. They show empathy, they give me hugs, they see that I am just like everyone else. They see that even parents break down and don’t have it together all the time, and I think that’s healthy.

My kids need to know how much pain I am in, and that that’s why I can’t do things with them. I am not choosing not to play with them or take them places. The pain is ruling my body. Their mum would love to be able to do more with them, but right now it can’t happen. They need to know that I can’t do certain things with them or for them when I am in that much pain. It shows them the other side of happiness and that life can be really hard. It shows them truth, hard truth, and an ugly reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t walk around my house bawling or walking into their bedrooms and standing there just crying in front of them. If I am crying it’s because they have caught me crying in my bedroom or somewhere private where I have ended up.

There have been a couple of occasions where pain has struck me down. There has been such bad debilitating pain that I have been stuck not being able to move, and I have had to ask them to help me in some way. The tears have started rolling down my face, out of pain, out of frustration and out of sadness. Sadness in the fact that I am the mum, I am supposed to be looking after them and carrying them through life, not the other way round. But I think this journey, if nothing else, shows my kids I am human.

Everyone cries, even mums and dads. I tell my stepdaughter all the time, we as females have the ability to cry a lot. We can all cry whenever we want to, and crying is good. It lets your emotions out and can sometimes feel very therapeutic. I tell her it’s OK to cry. I probably cry more than most, and my journey of chronic illness has been one where I have cried a lot for many reasons.

I am now OK with crying in front of my kids, if I have to, and they are fine with me crying in front of them. They understand to some level, what I go through. They know that if mum is crying, things are still going to be OK and so will I.

We talk about it and they ask what’s wrong, so they know why I am crying. It breaks down the barrier between child and adult. We are able to communicate on a neutral, raw, open, level. Your kids are there for you more than you know. They want to be there for you. If you are upset or sad, don’t hide it. They want you to be happy and they want to cheer you up. Just as we do for them. And on days when you think your whole world is falling in a heap, and you couldn’t be more upset, a warm hug from your kids and a chat can really cheer you up.

I have learned that it’s OK to talk to your kids about why you are hurting and why you are down or upset. They love you more than anyone in the whole world and you don’t need to hide your tears, crying in secret. It might just bring you closer together.

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