Simple lessons: Jack O'Lantern feelings

Happy Friday, friends! Every now and again I'll be featuring a new series on Pars Caeli called Simple Lessons. These are not projects as much as they are easy ways to connect and to teach your children. Many of them might not be Pinterest beautiful, but they are quick, approachable ways that you can use what's going on around you or in your home to enhance your role as a parent.

We were eating dinner the other night, my husband was away for work, and the topic of war came up. As a family, we haven't really delved into war, figuring that our children (9,7,4) aren't quite ready for that kind of catastrophic topic. They, especially the 4- and 7-year old, had clear and tough questions.

  • "Why would anyone go to war?"
  • "How do you know who wins a war?"
  • "Do we know anyone who has fought in a war?"

We talked about these issues for about 10 minutes when one of them asked if we knew anyone who had been killed in a war. And then they all got a little anxious. Death, killing, violence are not our usual conversation topics. They all became a little unsure that we should be saying these things out loud.

I assured them that we should never be afraid to talk about any of this...even the things that upset us, worry us, and scare us.

And it made me think, that especially with my youngest, I should spend some more time talking about emotions and HOW TO talk about emotions. He had recently drawn a sad face in one of his pictures and felt the need to draw over it with a happy face... he didn't like seeing the sadness.

Enter Halloween and all the ghosts and ghouls and jack o'lanterns. Halloween can serve as a great entrance into tough topics of death and the afterlife. I decided that pumpkin art might be an easy way to open the topic.

I gave him a stack of small pumpkins and asked that he draw all sorts of emotions on their faces.

  • What does happy look like?
  • How about sad?
  • Can you draw surprised?
  • And frustrated?
  • How about angry?

He made patterns with the various faces and enjoyed lacing them together with twine, and I was able to sneak in some good conversation about his feelings. I wanted to help him understand that it's good to feel all of these. Sadness is good. Anger is good. Happiness is good.

It's all a part of being human. We want to express our emotions.

How we express our emotions is really important. We never want to harm anyone with our words or our bodies - that's where the trouble comes in. But it's right to feel sad when something bad happens to us. And it's good to get angry when someone has upset you. Feelings of all varieties have meaning.

And I wanted him to know that no matter how I might express my feelings, I always love him. Even if my face might show something different, my love is stronger than a feeling. He seemed to get it, likely telling me he didn't need this lesson in the first place...

but maybe I did.

Consider taking advantage of the fearful and haunted of Halloween to talk to your kids about how they're feeling.

Have a bright weekend!

xoxo, MJ

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