Parental Empathy

Description

We need to let our kids know from the beginning that we are on their side—that we care about what they care about and will listen to their concerns.

Tiger moms, sports dads, and helicopter parents—these stereotypes describe people involved in their kids’ lives to the point of obsession and destruction. While they may truly love their kids, they also judge themselves by their children’s successes and failures. They don’t listen when their kids try to explain they have other interests and desires. And unfortunately, many of these people don’t realize that the pressure they put on their kids to achieve their parent-imposed goals drive them away—and teach them a very incorrect view of God.

Instead, we need to let our kids know from the beginning that we are on their side—that we care about what they care about and will listen to their concerns. While their issues may seem silly or minor to us, they aren’t to them.

Consider how our heavenly Father treats us. He cares deeply about our concerns. Nothing is too small. The Psalms are full of images of God bending down to listen to our prayers: “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer” (Ps. 17:6). “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue” (Ps. 31:2).

Even when we don’t know what to pray, God is already there, attending to us: “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26).

So turn your ear, literally and figuratively, to your kids. Try learning something about what interests them. Take time to understand when something worries them—even if they don’t tell you it does. Consider their fears from their perspective, and help them understand and overcome those worries. It’s the surest way to keep them on your side through good times and bad—and help them see the same qualities in their heavenly Father.

Written by Tom Neven

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