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September 06, 2005



I command you on the way you handle empathy in raising your children. I am a new teacher still in school myself and researching ideas and inspirations for a big project in college. I love your post and hope that more parents will see the overwhelming need for keeping their children's eyes open and helping them stay that way.

Robin P

Earlier this year I had a chat with Lillianna about sympathy,empathy and apathy. It's a 30 minute drive to my Mom's house which is where she goes when I work so I use this time for life lesson talks.
I try to help Lillianna feel how other people feel in different situations and she is really good at putting herself in other people's shoes.
I think it is our job as parents to teach our kids to be kind,caring people.
I know you freaked out on your tour with your kids,but I think I would've been pissed off too if my child whined about not getting a certain food when there are children who are starving.

When Lillianna complains about not getting a certain toy,I just about go insane. She has so many dolls,games and toys and I make sure she knows she needs to be grateful for what she does have rather than focus on what she doesn't have.
It's a work in progress.
This was a great post!!


Betsy - I loved this post for the obvious reason that it addressed an important issue for parents, but also b/c you mentioned something I might not have thought of - that Alex's teacher knew that his lack of empathy was age-appropriate. Thanks for reminding me to maintain perspective!

Lisa Nakamura

this is an excellent post. empathy is really important to me as well. My mother had and has none at all, really, except for herself, and never did anything for a person that wasn't already known to her. I've tried very hard to model different behavior for my daughter. I am also a single parent with joint custody, and an ex that is very short tempered, depressed, and irrational--and he has started spanking my daughter. that isn't a good way to learn empathy at all so i feel I have to take up the slack. it is a really hard situation. any advice is appreciated.


Betsy -

Great post! Following the other comments, I've never seen Empathy graded on a card...perhaps that falls under the "Works well with others" category.

Regardless, I applaud your efforts to help the children get a grasp on the real world...that we are the lucky ones, even when we can't have our shrimp coctail or if, God forbid, the cable goes out and it can't be fixed right away.

My children, 15, 13, and 9, have been watching the coverage of Katrina and are just floored. Still, though, the magnitude of it seems surreal to them because it's not something they can actually see on their own, it's not tangible. 9/11 was the same way..they didn't really get the full effect of that until a friend of ours who had been sent to NY to help shore up the Amex building brought home pictures of Ground Zero. Katrina hit them the same way when, driving to Michigan this weekend, we could see remnants of her floating through the beautiful sky. Then it hit them. As they're reading the news stories about all of the people spreading from one state to the next seeking temporary shelter, it's hitting them.

It's important that we do not baby them and that they are exposed to the realities of the world...and trust me, I'm all about baby-ing my kids. But they can't grow up thinking this only happens to others and can't happen to them.

I love your lemonade stand idea and may have my children follow in your shoes. What a wonderful concept.


How does one grade "empathy?" Not every teacher is sufficiently sensative to judge what's in a person's heart.


Hmm, great post. I'm also impressed that empathy was listed on your son's report card. My kids are still young (1 and 3) but lately I've been thinking about what values I want to teach them, and how in the heck to go about it. I guess the big answer to that is to teach by example-- and that sort of makes me cringe, as lately I haven't really been putting into practice much of what I would claim to value. I am still so overwhelmed with the day-to-day logistics of parenting two small kids that just keeping them clothed and fed and relatively safe is all I can worry about these days. Of course they grow up so fast, I'd better start paying more attention to these things...

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