When your kids are little, it's only natural to spend almost every waking minute by their side, catering to their every need, kissing all their boo-boos, wondering just what's going on inside that little head of theirs. But as the years tick by, and you suddenly turn around to find your precious little toddler has now become a full-fledged teen, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that while they no longer need you to be constantly by their side, they probably need you to simply be present more than you'd think.
Never before has this point been more driven home, than on a recent episode of "Oprah's Lifeclass," in which clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary sat down with a group of kids ranging in age from 11 to 17. She was there to chat about their parents—what they were doing right, and what they could do better. But some of the feelings shared were far more heart-wrenching than any of the parents could have expected.
Take the words of 11-year-old Sam, who opened up to Dr. Tsabary about how he feels misunderstood by both his parents.
"It makes me feel like I'm just no one," Sam told Dr. Tsabary. "I'm just like a ghost, not even in the real world. Just not even alive."
Later in the episode, Oprah replays the segment in front of a studio audience—which includes Sam's mom, Kim. As she hears her son's words being replayed, Kim can't help but be moved to tears. "That's my heart," she says. "I didn't know he felt like that."
Kim's outpouring of emotion, explains Dr. Tsabary, is only natural.
"When our children express such deep feeling, it's really upsetting for us parents because of your deep feeling," says Dr. Tsabary, trying to reassure her. "The ability that he has to even access that deep feeling and express it is a testament to his raising, is a testament to you."
In less than three minutes, Dr. Tsabary manages to get at the heart of why it is our children sometimes feel "invisible," and how we can connect with them better every day.