Have you ever experienced pure empathy? If you have zebras around you, you may*. More people talk about kindness but our society does not really value empathy.
Actually, empathy and kindness are often seen as weaknesses. I was watching a TV show about zebras lately, and the psychiatrist said something striking: think about heroes in movies. The ones who are represented as strong and courageous often show no feeling or empathy. On the other hand, the characters who show their feelings are depicted as weak or emotional (and are woman 99% of the time but this is another story…). How to live in a society that does not value empathy? Well, if you are a zebra yourself, you must probably have found coping mechanism. Some of us have repressed our empathy and emotions, some of us have expressed them through their art, some of us have decided to assume it.
What about our super emotional, over empathetic zebras?
Long story short, I could not work for 3 months because my work permit documents could not be issued. When they arrived, I was back to the office the next day (cheer to my boss put my contract on hold during this period of hardship!). That night, I entered my daughter’s bedroom to kiss her goodnight. We have a little ritual, asking each other what we have been grateful for. I told her that I was grateful to be back to the office. She frowned and told me, with her most serious face: “you didn’t tell me that”. Then, she opened her arms, smiled, hugged me and said, “I am so happy for you Mum!”. She knew I really missed going to the office, and in this moment, she felt what I felt. This is what empathy is about: being with someone, feeling what he/she feels, genuinely.
I do not want anybody to take that away from her. I don’t want anyone telling my son this is not OK to burst into tears reading Harry Potter because Harry fell out of his broom. This is a treasure to cherish and to encourage. We, as parents or educators, should provide a safe place for them to cultivate this treasure and help them accept it. So that they will be more confident to share it with the World in their own way. And one step at a time, Society will see and appreciate this treasure too.
#zebraparenting #empathy #softskills
*Hyper empathy or over sensitivity in general are often noted in gifted children. Nevertheless, there is no consensus over specialists to consider it as a characteristic of giftedness. In my blog posts, I share with you my own stories that may or may not relate to your own children. Remember: every zebra has different stripes!