I've always been extremely empathetic. I sense the emotions of others to the point that I often find myself overwhelmed. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it's emotionally taxing. On the bright side, though, as the mother of two I know that showing compassion is setting a positive example for my kids. And in case you're wondering how loudly your actions speak as a parent, it's volumes. So there are actually signs your empathy is rubbing off on your kids, and they're worth looking for when you're raising children. Especially in this world.
My children have always been empathetic, but I've started noticing just how much this trait has developed in my kids since we moved from the comfort of our small Midwestern town all the way to Florida. They've essentially been uprooted and pulled from everything they know and love, while simultaneously navigating their own personal milestones (my 10-year-old daughter is on the brink of puberty, and my 5-year-old son is learning to read). As they've been adjusting to a new school, with new friends, and with our close relatives far away, I've noticed how beautifully kind and empathetic they've grown to be.
Many times during this move we, as a family, have collectively felt as if our whole world was lost in transit. Try as I might to be strong for my children, they know when I'm upset, scared, exhausted, and unsure. I attribute the way they've cared for and nurtured my feelings through this time, to the fact that maybe I've been doing something right with this whole mom thing. Maybe, all those moments I was empathetic towards someone, or something, they noticed and, as a result, they adopted the practice, too. Here are some of the signs your child might've taken a hint from the way you treat others, because whether you want them to or not, they're always watching. Always.
They Advocate On Your Behalf
The times I stressed or became frustrated to the point of tears, my kids were there to remind me that, as a family, we can do anything. They've even comforted me at times when I should've been comforting them. When your kids are able to see your pain, and sympathize with what you're going through, you're doing a good job.
They Consider Everyone's & Everything's Feelings
I don't hate bugs or anything, and I do my best not to squish or step on things if I can help it. But my kids are next-level empathetic for every single creature on Earth, and I do mean all of them. Even when we're running late, I can't be upset that my children want to take the time to re-locate a wayward ant or assist an injured fly.
They've Cried Watching A Movie
As an extrovert it's really easy to notice my daughter's emotions, but my youngest is a quiet empath. Even as a 5-year-old child, he's been known to shrug off a feeling in an attempt to "appear strong." But there are other times when he just can't hold his emotions in, and his empathy is obvious.
For example, those Pixar movies? Yeah, he cries nearly every time he watches one of those Big Hero 6 or Finding Nemo moments. Sometimes he leaves the room until they're over, but still returns in tears because he knows what happens. I'm not happy he's sad, but I'm glad my son as the capacity to feel empathy for people, even if they're fictional characters.
They're Great With Animals
My kids have always been good with animals, and we've always had animals in our home. I've never been without at least one cat through my entire life, and my children are going to be able to say the same. You can tell a lot about a person's character by how they treat animals. If your human babies love on your fur babies the way you do, they're learning empathy and compassion from you.
They Randomly Discuss Sad Memories
Every now and then, my kids bring up a random thing that happened years ago, for the sake of shedding tears over whomever was hurt in that particular memory. Lately, my son speaks of our old cat we had to put to sleep at the beginning of summer. When he thinks of her he remembers that he misses her so much, and he'll go to bed with tears in his eyes. Honestly, I do the same, so I'm proud of him and his courage to express his feelings.
Their Friends Adore Them
When we moved, my daughter's friends were heartbroken. She's a loyal, devoted friend, who's always been the one they turned to. When your kid has those kinds of friends — the type that sees your child as such a source of comfort — you should be relieved to know your empathy has rubbed off in all the right ways.
They're Able To Think Outside Themselves
The world is big and, for the most part, scary as hell. But it's important that we, as human beings sharing that world with other human beings, stop to think about how we can make the world less scary for people, and not just ourselves. How can we contribute to the collective good? How can we lessen the pain of those who are suffering? How can we make the bad parts better?
If my kids take anything away from the mother I am, I hope it's a sense of empathy that makes them compelled to be the positive change this world needs.
Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.