This is How Empathy Sounds
While speaking to an incredible group of parents last week, we talked about the value of empathy.
We agreed that expressing empathy isn’t easy. So, with the help of two Moms, we practiced. One read the part of the adolescent and the other, the empathetic parent (in bold.)
“I didn’t get the lead in the play!”
“You tried so hard. You’re disappointed.”
“I got stopped in the hall for running by that mean Ms. Wright. She hates kids, and I wasn’t running!”
“It must have been difficult for you to hold it together.”
“I said yes when Abby asked me to keep her vape stick at my house so she wouldn’t get in trouble. Now I’m the one in trouble!”
“It’s confusing figuring out how to best support your friends.”
“I saw Luke flirting with Megan. I’m done with him!!”
“You feel he betrayed you.”
“Jordan invited me to the Katy Perry concert!! We’re going to take the train. It’s next Tuesday. Can I go?”
“I wish I could say yes.”
Like the parents I was speaking to, and perhaps you as well, the first inclination when hearing these kinds of situations is to respond like this: “What were you thinking?” “Why would you agree to that?” “You know the rules on school nights.” These kinds of statements are difficult for children to respond to without causing a rift.
Empathy requires four things:
1. Recognizing the other’s perspective by identifying with what they are experiencing
2. Not judging
3. Recognizing the other’s emotions by reading their feelings
4. Responding to connect with their emotions
Empathy’s mindset and language are challenging to learn and adopt, but you can do it! It makes all the difference to your child knowing that you understand her/his struggles and feelings. You will both reap the benefits.
I’m an email away if I can be of help to you.
With deep respect for all you do,