By Don MacMannis
Once upon a time, a young girl named Goldilocks went food tasting. She tried Papa Bear’s porridge but it was too hot, and Mama Bear’s which was too cold. When she tasted a spoonful from Baby Bear’s tiny little bowl she cried “Yummy!” “This is just right!"
And so it is with families. The expression of feelings—the “just right” amount—happens to a moderate degree in healthy families. Not too hot, not too cold. It is best to strike a balance between expressing feelings too much or in uncontrolled ways, versus expressing them too little or stuffing them down.
There are a wide range of feelings: positive ones such as love, joy and appreciation, as well as those considered negative such as anger, sadness, fear, grief or embarrassment. They all play an important role. Expressing feelings in constructive ways helps and heals our bodies, relationships and families. Here are some principles and tips.
Don MacMannis, Ph.D. is a psychologist who has treated children and families for the past 40 years. Award-winning PBS songwriter, he has produced a series of research-based songs and activities for social and emotional learning at http://kidseps.com/. He has also co-written a book about healthy families, and free family assessments can be found at http://howsyourfamily.com/