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Why be embarrassed by the emotions of our loved ones?

It was the gathering of relatives and halfway through it, the father got into an argument with a relative the argument became heated for while before it cooled down and harmony prevailed between them. The son was very embarrassed by his father’s emotional display. On the way back home, there was a massive argument between them about it. This second argument lasted longer than the one at the party.

As the couple was taking their two children to the mall, the elder daughter threw up a tantrum and sat in the aisle of the mall, crying and not willing to budge. The father was trying to pacify the child and the mother had an embarrassed look on her face, mentally apologizing to all the passers-by.

We regard our loved ones as an extension of ourselves. We hold ourselves responsible for their emotions. Are we really responsible for the emotions of others? Do they have the right to their emotions and the way of expressing them? Can someone get angry when their rights are violated? Can a child cry when her needs are not met? We may have a different way of expressing our emotions but can others have a right to their way of doing it as long as their safety or the safety of others is not compromised? If the child is emotionally dysregulated because it is not feeling safe, can we be with the child and help it to feel safe again? Our responsibility is more towards making our child feels safe rather than the comfort of the passerby.

We become embarrassed by the display of emotions of our loved ones because we feel we are responsible for their emotions. We also believe that the emotional display of our loved ones reflects on us somehow. A child crying is not a commentary on parenting, a father displaying anger is not a comment on the personality of the son.

Once we come to the understanding that the display of emotions is the right of that person and we neither can control it nor be responsible for it, we will feel less embarrassed by it.

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