etben: flowers and sky (Default)
etben ([personal profile] etben) wrote2013-04-12 11:51 pm

vocabulary of feeeeelings

so J and I were talking earnestly, as we often do on Friday nights, and we wound up discussing parenting (as we often do on Friday nights), and came to the following realization: both of us come from families with a limited vocabulary of negative emotions.

For example: My parents were GREAT at positive feeling words! They were proud, they were happy, they were excited, they were interested, they were amused, they were pleased...

...but when it came to expressing NEGATIVE feelings, they had two options: frustrated and disappointed. The latter was for something my brother or I had done wrong; the former was pretty much a catch-all for any negative emotion about something else - work kerfuffle, family drama, geopolitical turmoil, you name it. I think my mom had an option out on sad, but that was really only for if somebody you knew personally had died.

J had a similar experience—the same words, even!—which makes me wonder: what were the words your parents used to express emotions? I'm trying to figure if this is a thing that all parents do, or if this is just my family being wicked weird.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)

[personal profile] resonant 2013-04-13 05:35 pm (UTC)(link)
My family allows "annoyed" and "irritated" and variations on a theme of "fed up" (I remember as a kid being very struck by the vividness of "sick to tears") among negative emotions. "Hurt" and "angry" were never options; if someone said, "That makes me angry," this would be remembered later as "that time so-and-so made that incredible scene."

It was very odd to marry into the spouse's highly emotional Italian family, where standing up at the dinner table and knocking your chair over just meant you were feeling very enthusiastic about the thing being discussed!

[identity profile] 2013-04-14 02:04 am (UTC)(link)
Oof, it's kind of a WASP thing? I remember feeling like a toddler in therapy when trying to expand my negative emotion vocab.

One more in my family: snappish, and it was only used in an apology from my mom, "I'm sorry if I was snappish earlier, I was a little frustrated."

God's frozen people. Academics, especially, seem to think they can think their way out of all illogical emotions.

[identity profile] 2013-04-14 04:46 am (UTC)(link)
Hmmm interesting! I'll have to think more about it, but I'm sure that vocabulary balance is also out of whack in my family... to be honest I'm still learning words (MANY actually) to articulate my negative emotions! It's hard!

[identity profile] 2013-04-14 05:46 am (UTC)(link)
This is fascinating. My parents were kind of hippies, so we used all the words for negative emotions. But. When we messed up, they'd tell us they loved us no matter what, but were very disappointed by our behavior.

As a parent, especially considering one of my kids had delayed language acquisition and other issues, we find ourselves naming all of her emotions for her so she can learn to identify them herself.