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Tue, 25 Feb 2020

Northeast Today

Are We Empathetic Towards Our Children?

Are We Empathetic Towards Our Children?
September 24
14:38 2019


Anandita Chakkravatty

Parents are conforming to the belief that children are to be persuaded, molded or instructed and thereby made to do task required of them. We as parents have so strongly established ourselves to the very notion of; to be less empathetic but more sympathetic towards our own children. The actions done in response to such feelings make children subject to vulnerabilities like lack of love, understanding, trust and commitment to goals. This is really a concern for most parents for both working and non working prototype. The love we tend to generate nowadays for them is embedded into sympathetic feeling rather than empathetic.

Empathy is that cognitive mechanism that hovers around the feeling of putting oneself into other’s (here our child’s) realm of experiences. It is thus, developing the feeling process of how our children interpret his or her situation in hand. This is a very fine and intricate mannerism to reflect onto our children. Now, the question arises, “Is empathy a requisite element to be exercised for our children?” The answer is obviously yes because children are prone to vulnerabilities until the age of reaching later adolescence. These may be the confusion of their own identity, lack of communication between their peers, abrupt frequency of rifts between their parents or elders in their immediate environment or may be sort of annoyances in handling things. Such cases are quite common when we deal with children as parents or caregivers, teachers or mentors. We need to serve as exemplary beings in order to get them solidified in respect to develop empathetic feelings towards other in future.


Empathetic understanding of children from preschool period till they attain pre-adulthood is vital in creating a conducive environment for their healthy mental growth. When we see our child growing physically with maturing age, we tend to create specific experiences ideal for them wherein they learn and grow intellectually but if these experiences are sabotaged through actions of unacceptance and disloyalty towards our children, then phenomenological well as conceptual understanding of “parents- ward” relationship is compromised.

As parents or caregivers we have to grasp the very fact that children can be molded to the extent of our choice at their age and also those tender minds consequently form solutions to our reactions of their problems or demands. Expectation lies on both ways and it is this factor which makes us empathetically envision their state of mental affairs as compared to ours. Sometime just listening to their unbound impulses, expressions and caring their beautiful minds helps create a connection which is so peaceful in its own way. Also, crux of the matter is that fulfilling their every wish is unhealthy and uninviting at the same time for their emotional development at later stages of life.


Children have partially developed mental schemes (knowledge of the world around them) to handle and act accordingly to the instructions or advices put forth to them. It is often said that they are intellectually handicapped when it comes to understanding our mental anomalies from “our” perspective. Therefore, it is never correct to expect them to hugely form sympathy towards “us” considering their mental age as it mitigates the process of providing acceptance and support of what the children ‘say’ or ‘do’. Chronologically ascending in age doesn’t necessitate that children can or shall become thinkers’ parallel to our mental age. It takes time for the child to “empathize” his or her parents considering that we as parents have skillfully exercised or implemented on them at first hand, right from the time child develops the perception of the world around him or her.


Henceforth, just trying to unconditionally love them in the process will generate an empathetic understanding towards their needs and desires which affects both the parent and the child in helping develop a strong bond of attachment devoid of any angst, doubt and emotional perplexities. We want our children to prosper through healthy emotional family dynamics whereby empathetic speeches are facilitated and energetically practiced by parents of today’s age.


(The author is a Mental Health professional and a Systematic Family Therapy Practitioner. She has a keen interested in writing, research investigation and analysis.)


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