The ability to understand the feeling of others.
My son is a blessed child. When he was small, my mother in law left her job and stepped forward to take care of him and she was with us all through the first 10 years of his life. While other working parents have to worry about baby sitters, or how their child would be treated at day care, we were assured that he was in safe hands. We changed cities and for the love of her grandchild, she too came along never ever complaining about being uprooted at the age where she seeks comfort of her friends and sisters.
Last year, we saw her distressed more than usual. Of course, she was away from the country she had grown in and she felt lonely all the time. She wanted to be back to her beloved Motherland, India. We knew the transition would be difficult for all, especially for both of them as he is very attached to her.
Slowly, we started breaking the news to him that grandma would go back and he has to start becoming independent. We cited reasons that he is a big boy, his grandma feels lonely and so on.
Nothing can prepare one for farewell. The day before he was very sad. We had friends who were visiting us from India, and we had to meet them in evening. He refused to go anywhere without her.
The next morning he woke up teary eyed. He made a beautiful greeting card for her and continued crying like a baby even in the school bus. Grandma who had been controlling couldn’t control herself anymore.
When he came back from school, he was very sad. Obviously, the house looked haunted without her. My husband got him his favourite cake as a surprise and I cooked his favourite meal in dinner. He spoke to his grandmom daily for the next week. Soon, he got busy and settled in his routine.
I was surprised to see his sensitive and caring side. He understood that unlike us who enjoy being here, his Dadi had spent all her life in India and this land felt alien to her. She missed her parents, her sisters and her friends. For a 10 year old child understanding, accepting and acknowledging her grandma’s feelings made me keep my neck high that I was on a right path.
Whenever man made tragedy strikes like the recent attacks in NewZealand or in Pulwana, suddenly the media wakes up and stats talking about Change and we are forced to think where are we going?
Wouldn’t it be worth the effort that we raise kids with empathy. Kids who understand others emotions and feelings, who genuinely care about others. Wouldn’t the world be a better place?
What can we do to raise kids with empathy?
Let them understand their own feelings first. A child who is in touch with his feelings, knows what it is to be happy as well as sad, frightened as well as angry, is better able to feel for others. Let the child grieve when he is sad. Let him verbalise what he is going through.
To raise empathy in kids, be empathetic first. Lead by example. Understand their feelings, and let them know it is okay. Be easy on self, when you at times blunder up. As everything else, charity begins at home. Empathy towards self will let you be empathetic towards others.
Don’t overprotect your kids from the bad news in the world and the family around. Trying to keep them happy at all costs, makes them realise that it’s the only thing which matters. Yes being Happy is important but not at the cost of other’s happiness.
I am participating in A2Z Challenge this April and this post is my entry for letter E.