Rio Ferdinand Teaches His Children It Doesn't Make Them 'Less Of A Boy Or Girl' To Cry

'I'm not wired to do that naturally.'

Rio Ferdinand has spoken about how he is having to rethink his own approach to emotions in order to help his three children deal with grief, following their mother’s death in May 2015.

The former Manchester United footballer appeared on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ to talk about losing his wife Rebecca Ellison to cancer, and how he is trying to teach their children - Lorenz, 10, Tate, eight, and Tia, five, - to open up about their feelings.

“I’ve told them from the beginning that it’s okay to cry,” Ferdinand said. “I’ve tried to stress to them it doesn’t make you any less of a boy or a girl.

“I’ve realised it does release a lot of stress and emotion.”

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The 38-year-old believes his own inability to share his feelings stems from his upbringing, when he didn’t see emotion or affection expressed openly, and his career as a professional footballer playing at the highest level.

“It’s hard for me,” the dad explained. “It’s not the way I’ve been conditioned. I’m not wired to do that naturally.

“I was always thinking of the next step to sustain a level of winning and you can’t sit back and look back and enjoy the moment too often. I was scared of that.”

Ferdinand, who also lost his mother to cancer in July 2017, said that he has started to search for answers since losing both women, and he became increasingly concerned that his children were internalising their feelings.

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Back in March he said that his greatest concern is his eldest son, who has barely spoken about the death of his mum.

“I get nothing out of the two boys,” he said.

He also spoke on BBC Five Live to Emma Barnett about how he was helping his kids to open up.

“I’d been starting conversations with them to try and get how they were feeling out, and they would just shut me down, walk away, close the conversation down completely,” he said.

As a result Ferdinand wanted to take action and decided, while staying at his home in Portugal, to be more open about his own feelings.

In the future, Ferdinand wants to be more balanced in his approach: “God forbid, if something was to happen. I want those kids to know exactly how I feel.

“It’s a work in progress.”

During the ‘This Morning’ interview, he also reflected on a trip to a Bereavement Centre, where he met a young girl who had created a ‘memory jar’ to collect special memories of her parent, and he had introduced it for his own children.

“It kind of opened everything up and it was a beautiful moment just seeing them talk happily and being joyful about their mum rather than it being sad and negative moments,” he explained.

‘This Morning’ airs weekdays at 10.30am on ITV.