Treppenwitz posts about the common Hebrew expression used by parents when kids have minor scrapes:”Lo kara kloom,” or “It’s nothing.” Since his blog decided to eat up my comments, I’m responding here.
“Lo kara kloom” is a way of comforting a child and sending him the messsage that everything is okay. But it is often used to minimize or ignore genuine emotions.
Many parents overreact when when their kids get hurt. Yet underreacting can be just as
harmful. Have you ever been upset about a situation, only to be told that it’s nothing? Years ago I was in a car accident; my ribs were badly bruised and painful. For many reasons, the accident was traumatic and it took me a month to recover. I resented the friends who, instead of acknowledging my feelings, implied that I should get over it and be glad that the accident wasn’t more serious. I knew that; I was grateful, but I still suffered. (Actually, the only one who really understood was my own mother a”h.)
I once saw a little boy in the park bump his head on a piece of equipment. Hard. The mother didn’t comfort him, pick him up, nor acknowledge his very real pain in any way. While he screamed hysterically, the mother kept repeating a variation of “lo kara kloom:” “It doesn’t hurt, you’re fine, you don’t need to cry.” Is this a way of toughening up boys?
Our job as parents is to recognize when our children are going to pick themselves up after a fall and skip off, and when they need cuddling and sympathy. It starts when they are babies: Do we recognize that they are crying for a reason, or do we assume that they are manipulating us?
By reflecting children’s feelings, and giving them a proper dose of sympathy or comfort, we help them learn when they can manage on their own and when they need our help. But we need to keep in mind that what looks to us like “kloom” (nothing) may actually be “mashehu” (something).