Let's Talk Kids
11:03 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Emergent Empathy

There’s one resource every parent needs:  a close friend or family member to stand beside them in the trenches. 

Dr. Victor Bernstein from the University of Chicago teaches that “Relationships take the edge off chaos.”  When we find ourselves in the midst of trauma, chaos or disorganization, a relationship with someone we trust has the power to soothe and settle us.

I’ve been on the receiving end of such supportive relationships on my own rocky seas of raising kids.  I remember the day I turned my back for a few seconds while baking with my toddler.  When I returned my attention to her, she’d dumped an entire box of corn starch over her head.  She looked like a ghost in a snowstorm.

If I’d been alone with my children, I would have felt that my child was somehow working against me, resenting the horrific mess she created for me to clean up.

But as it happens, a friend was there that day to share the baking duties.  And while scrubbing cornstarch out of the grout in the floor tiles, she and I had to stifle our laughter so as not to encourage more such pranks from this naughty little one.  Her presence made me see this event for what is was: not an effort to make my life harder, but simply a memorable physics experiment conducted by a curious toddler.

I learned that the presence of a friend is a soothing balm to a weary parent.  Isolation in raising children is a recipe for disaster when it comes to parents’ ability to cope with normal parenting challenges. 

If you’re a parent raising children alone, reach out to family, friends or social service agencies for support.  You and your child deserve it, and there are many who are eager to provide it.

If you know a parent raising children alone, find ways to come alongside, extending your friendship and simply spending time with the family.  You may never know the difference you’ll make in the life of a parent and, subsequently, the life of her child.

 Audio FileThere’s one resource every parent needs: a close friend or family member to stand beside them in the trenches. Dr. Victor Bernstein from the University of Chicago teaches that “Relationships take the edge off chaos.” When we find ourselves in the midst of trauma, chaos or disorganization, a relationship with someone we trust has the power to soothe and settle us. I’ve been on the receiving end of such supportive relationships on my own rocky seas of raising kids. I remember the day I turned my back for a few seconds while baking with my toddler. When I returned my attention to her, she’d dumped an entire box of corn starch over her head. She looked like a ghost in a snowstorm. If I’d been alone with my children, I would have felt that my child was somehow working against me, resenting the horrific mess she created for me to clean up. But as it happens, a friend was there that day to share the baking duties. And while scrubbing cornstarch out of the grout in the floor tiles, she and I had to stifle our laughter so as not to encourage more such pranks from this naughty little one. Her presence made me see this event for what is was: not an effort to make my life harder, but simply a memorable physics experiment conducted by a curious toddler. I learned that the presence of a friend is a soothing balm to a weary parent. Isolation in raising children is a recipe for disaster when it comes to parents’ ability to cope with normal parenting challenges. If you’re a parent raising children alone, reach out to family, friends or social service agencies for support. You and your child deserve it, and there are many who are eager to provide it. If you know a parent raising children alone, find ways to come alongside, extending your friendship and simply spending time with the family. You may never know the difference you’ll make in the life of a parent and, subsequently, the life of her child.Edit | Remove