I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, empathy is the single most important parenting technique I have learned. It has saved me in so many situations from getting upset. It has also helped me connect with my children on a much greater level.
I would venture to say it has also been one of the most important things in positively impacting my marriage.
Let’s start from the top and first explain what empathy is. Empathy is defined in the dictionary as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We may often say it’s “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
I want to break it down even further and create two new words. I am coining these:
#1 – surface empathy – This is relating to someone and showing them that you understand what they are saying. Maybe it could also be said that you are able to see something from their perspective.
#2 – deep empathy – To me, this is really feeling the emotion or feelings that someone else has in order to relate to them.
I’ll give you an example of each.
Surface empathy – I think this often happens in situations with our children. When my daughter was 5 years old and couldn’t find her shoes before school, I understood it was a big deal for her. Did i really feel the emotion? No, but i understood hers.
Deep Empathy – I recently heard that a friend’s parent passed away. Now this was like a hit in my gut. I actually had really strong emotion as i have been through that situation and recalled how painful it is. I was showing deep empathy.
Both of these are really important to be able to do. They can really impact the relationships you …