As I am so acutely aware of the emotional neglect many parents unknowingly cause, by not teaching their children empathy and compassion, I talk with my children and model this for them.
I also model how to not put up with abuse and have resilience – because I did not learn these at all. I only (thankfully) learned how to care, protect, have empathy, love as a child, because I was the caretaker for my sisters and my mother.
My son has shown some true empathy and compassion for school friends and he has done this again recently. I nearly cried when he told me this today.
The school he goes to have a lot of bullies, that have all come from the junior school he went to previously, where he was bullied. We had the change to a different junior school when he was 8, which made a huge positive difference to him. So this school that has a lot of bullying, now have all fed through to the high school.
One boy, my son told me, gets bullied every day. This boy has anger issues, and has no friends and is a bit ‘weird’, my son told me a few weeks back. I talked with him about how some kids do have anger issues and there may be reasons for that. We also talked about how this does not give anyone the right to bully and tease him. My son said he felt sorry for this boy.
Today, this boy was being bullied by a heap of these bullies and a teacher intervened and comforted this boy and sorted it out.
Later on in the day, my son went up to this boy and said to him that all those kids were just bullies and mean and that if he was ever having problems, to come and find him (my son) and he would help him. The boy was so happy.
I was so proud of my son for again showing such empathy and compassion, which is hard at 11yrs old. And for recognising how all these bullies, are doing the wrong thing and to not ever get involved in what they are doing.
We talked more about how just because someone is different – doesn’t ever mean bullying them is okay.
My son is also aware that being a ‘cool’ kids, is not a necessity and that being a cool kid, is usually involving bullying and being mean. He sees this clearly in these kids from the school that he was bullied at.
We also talk about how Jesus never bullied anyone and doesn’t want bullying and that He is a our greatest role model and my son knows this too.
My son is not perfect by any means, he is driving me nuts at the moment with his ‘back-chatting’ and the attitude he can sometimes have, which I am aware is his age development and the pre-teenager stuff with hormones starting to kick in.
But, my son is a good kid with a good heart and he has empathy and compassion and a willingness to do things to help others, without being asked.
Children need to be taught many things, and empathy, compassion, resilience, tolerance, what is appropriate and what isn’t, how any bullying is never okay, how being ‘cool’ isn’t the be-all-and-end-all – are all things I am aware of they need to be taught, that I see parents often fail to teach.
I am proud of my children.