So many parents are concerned about how stressed out their teens are. Helping them cope with stress can be tricky when it seems like they don’t want our help or interference. I asked Jennifer Salerno to write a blog for you based on her book, Teen Speak, an essential guide in communicating with your teen. Teenagers seem like they don’t want us around, but when we connect in ways they can hear, we provide the support they both need and want.
There is a fine line between sympathy and empathy. Learning the difference can make huge changes in your relationship with your child.
- Sympathy directs attention to how you feel.
- Empathy is about listening. It tells your child you are paying attention to how she feels.
- Sympathy is about me. Empathy is about you.
- Empathy has nothing to do with how you feel; it’s about understanding how the other feels given their circumstance.
Empathy and sympathy as metaphor:
Imagine a huge hole in the ground with Man A stuck at the bottom unable to escape. Man B walks nearby and hears Man A calling for help. Man B sees Man A at the bottom of the hole and jumps in to help. Now both are stuck at the bottom of the hole. Man C walks by and hears both A and C calling for help. Man C tells them he will be back soon. Later, Man C arrives with a ladder.
Man B acted out of sympathy for Man A and jumped in thinking he was helping Man A. Now both were in the problem. Man A now had Man B to deal with as well as his original problem. Sympathy often becomes more about the sympathizer. Man C empathized understanding the predicament they were in and what was needed. His compassion was helpful. Empathy is more about the person being empathized with.