Monday, February 26, 2007


One of the things I know needs work among my midot (aside from that famous redhead temper, of course) is my ability to really, truly empathize with others.

I will admit that this is a real fault. Some of the things I hear about people grappling with, in the news or in my social sphere, just make me think "I don't get it! Snap out of it!" Despite this, I can usually be (hopefully) a good parent, a good friend, a good listener. Internally, though, I don't always empathize enough with struggles that differ from my own.

There was even a point where I got interested in reading non-fiction works about or by people who struggle with things like mental illness or challenging types of upbringings that differed vastly from anything I'd ever experienced, attempting to gain some insight into subjects that baffle me.

When Ann has a cough, and the line is blurred between the involuntary coughing and the "Mommy, look at me, I'm sick" excessive coughing, I sometimes tell her to try and stop the coughing, to count to ten before the next cough, to get a drink and think about something else. And, of course, to grin and bear it when it comes to that awful cough medicine.

Well, now I'm the one who's coughing. And my suggestions to Ann are seeming pretty lame as I struggle with that back-of-throat tickle or the chest-tingling urge to cough. Let me just say that there's nothing like a spoonful of empathy to make that humble pie go down!


mother in israel said...

RM, you are not alone. However, raising children is a wonderful opportunity to develop empathy and compassion. Try thinking about how you feel when you are sick and reflect that back to your children next time. They will let you know if you have guessed right. We have opportunities every hour to put ourselves in our children's shoes (or booties) and imagine what they are going through.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

It's nice you are aware of that and want to work on it. You sure seem empathic though:)

Hila said...

Every time I read another one of your posts, I wish I lived in NYC more and more, so I could meet you!

All of us could stand to work on our empathy sometimes. You could probably ask any one of my friends or relatives, and they'd tell you I'm the biggest softie and a generally understanding person (sometimes to my detriment) and yet there are times I find myself thinking similar thoughts to what you expressed here.

We wouldn't be human if we didn't sometimes question our emotions and why we have (or don't have) them.

As always, I can't wait to read your next post! Hope the cough gets better--I've had a nasty chest cough the past 3 weeks and I'm getting darn tired of it! Rfuah Shlaima