Empathy… to understand even the itchy tag!

em·pa·thy

1. Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.
2. The attribution of one’s own feelings to an object.
This is my battle against self today.
How to empathise with my Sunshine.
“Mummy I don’t like tights that go over my feet”
“Mummy my fringe hurts”
“Mummy one shoe is slightly bulgy at the side and feels different”
“My hood makes my hair feel funny”
“Arrghhhh!! It just feels strange and I don’t like it”
“I want to sit by you”
“I just want one more cuddle goodbye!!!!”
“I don’t want to go! I don’t want to leave you! I DON’T WANT TO GO!!!!”
I feel the rage inside me that wants to break out and say “STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!”
BUT… she can’t…
Not yet…
That is why the rage must not be and why instead there should be empathy… (not a bad rhyme!)
In his book The Challenging Child, Stanley I. Greenspan talks about the four basic elements of a parenting atmosphere required for Highly Sensitive children. They are: empathy, structure and limits, encouragement of initiative and self observation.
As this is just the beginning of our journey of discovery, I am very much still digesting the concept of empathy.
How does one empathise with a child who seems entirely unreasonable to a calm adult brain?
How do I validate feelings and experiences which at times can seem utterly ridiculous?
The answer I feel as I embark…. is CHOICE.
I have to choose to empathise because as Stanley Greenspan says “such a child is feeling overloaded, ruled by sensations constantly assaulting her. She feels her emotions more intensely than other children and is more disturbed by them. She needs parents who can react compassionately to her plight, just as they would to an adult friend who was having a difficult time.” (The Challenging Child, 1995)
To tell you the truth, as I sit here this afternoon in the quiet of a house with no one but me and a sleeping baby, I feel exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally.
I have heard many people speak of the grieving process parents must journey through when their child doesn’t fit the “norm”. I too need to grieve, but it is not a grief about Sunshine. It is a grief over things not being simple, easy and under control. In other words… I have to let go of what I expect my life as a parent to be and make room for an ever changing, often creative, challenging, unpredictable life, one which will help Sunshine to shine how she was made to shine.
This is going to require my hubby and I to be a unified force, an impenetrable fortress of empathy and compassion, firm in our boundaries but unlimited in our love!
I thank Jesus today that He ascended!!  I thank Him for going to the Father and sending His spirit to dwell in my heart. If Our Lord was just a prophet, I would be on my own with ancient words and traditions, beautiful but stale. Instead Our Lord has risen! He is ALIVE! And He lives in me 🙂
Through the Traditions, the Scriptures, the Divine Sacraments, I am fed and watered and enflamed with a living Spirit and I have the strength to journey on…
Blessings!
Ruth
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2 comments

  1. You, my friend, are doing an outstanding job with your Sunshine. I commend you and your love, patience and empathy. You are a legend and more parents need to take a leaf out of your book (including myself) Praying for you and yours. God bless 🙂

    1. thank you… I am reminded every day how lacking in patience and empathy I really am, and how much I need to put God first in my day! Only with His grace can I truly love Sunshine as He desires… Please do keep praying for me :). Keep up your inspiring work over on http://www.faithbooknz.com! I love it!

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