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Being the grown-up

During the Covid-19 lockdown I heard some heartfelt stories from single parents talking about how alone they felt and how hard it is to be strong for their children. That’s an extra layer of anxiety that those of us in relationships, or without children, don’t have.

There’s a tendency at times of crisis - redundancy, bereavement, job loss - to think that we have to be strong for the children. I want to tell you that you don’t.

Obviously we don’t want to see our children frightened or upset and it’s normal to want to reassure them that they don’t need to be. Showing we’re afraid or upset ourselves feels contradictory to that. So we try to cover it up.

But children aren’t stupid. They know we’re worried. If we don’t let them talk about it, they learn that being worried or upset is something to hide.

Then they don’t talk about how worried they are. As you’ll know if you think about it for a moment, if you’re worried the one thing you often want to do is talk about it. By pretending everything is ok you’re denying your child that release.

That doesn’t only last for now. By teaching your children to conceal their anxiety about one thing you’re teaching them to conceal it about everything else too. They’re learning that you don’t talk about being worried and you don’t want to hear about their fears. So they won’t tell you they’re being bullied, or they’re afraid they’ll fail their exams, or that they’re really scared about their part in the school play that you said was so fantastic. When they grow up they won’t talk to you because when they were very small, you taught them that they shouldn’t. And they certainly won’t talk to their partner or their children about being worried or upset, because you don’t talk about that kind of thing.

And what about you? If you’re a single parent, who do you talk to? Who tells you it’s all going to be all right? Often the loneliness of being single is all about there being nobody to reassure you. What if your children could do it?

What if, by explaining to your children how it’s all going to be all right, you can reassure yourself as well?

What if, by talking to your children about being worried and upset, you were teaching them to manage their emotions as they grow older?

What if, by talking to our children about emotions, we were teaching them to be well rounded, balanced and emotionally intelligent adults?

If you can’t see how you could possibly have that kind of conversation with your children, or you need someone to work through your emotions with beforehand, I offer a free 30 minute Zoom call to help. See below for ways to get in touch.

If you have found this article helpful, please share it with a friend.


Caeredwen is a counsellor, coach and physical therapist based in Coleford in the Forest of Dean. If this blog has touched you and you would like to contact her in confidence, you can reach her at or via her website at

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