Let's Talk Kids: "Parents Bring Peace"

Feb 1, 2017

Comedian Ray Romano quips that “having children is like living in a frat house - nobody sleeps, everything's broken, and there's a lot of throwing up.”

Kids can create chaos, without a doubt, but sometimes in the very midst of that whirlwind, parents bring peace.

A young mom was sharing with me that her little one had some stomach bug that was going around.  The result was that “throwing up” that Romano mentions.  

Nothing feels more chaotic than throwing up.  It seems so wrong, an assault on the body.  After all, food ordinarily goes DOWN, and an occurrence of it coming UP feels completely unnatural.

Vomiting is such an upsetting experience that it’s often followed by a child shaking and sobbing, with a racing heart.  But this mother shared what followed that violent episode in her home.  

“I just sat down on the couch and started rubbing her head and her little arms.  And I watched.  Her breathing slowed, and her face relaxed. I could actually see some of the discomfort drain from her body.”

She continued, “Sometimes I get so busy making life go on a daily basis.  I forget that what kids really need is us.  Our peace, our presence.  It’s a great reminder. You know, sometimes I forget the power we have as parents.”

This mother discovered a significant truth in a very tough time.  When our children feel the most out-of-control, they are momentarily terrified.  Parents have the power to calm the storm if they will but use it.

What she described—sitting on the sofa and rubbing her child’s head and arms—is a most basic human response.  It’s not rocket science.  And yet the alchemy of it effected profound change.  This girl’s autonomic system was calmed, apparent by her slowed breathing and heart rate.  And her pain diminished, a story told by the relaxation on her face.

The peaceful presence of a parent brings comfort when nothing else can.  When kids are sick or sad or frustrated, often the words we speak fall short of offering the comfort we wish they could convey.

But the simple act of sitting close by, softly patting an arm or rubbing a back, may deliver some measure of peace.