Can you teach your child to be empathetic or kinder?

Driving along today I over heard a conversation from the third row of the ‘Burban that sums up so clearly the difference between my three children…

Greg: “When I am an adult I am going to build houses for Hobos that are worth less than a cent so they can have somewhere to live.” (I am assuming he means “affordable”.)

Julia: “I am going to do that too, but first the Hobos have to give me the box they’re living in. Then I will give them a house. Then my kids can have a fun box to play in!”

Thomas: “Who cares about Hobos?! Can we go shopping for school clothes today?”

Yup. That’s the personality of each of my children summed up in 10 sentences or less. Greg is all about goodness and kindness. Generous to a fault. Julia will help ya out and knows it is the right thing to do, but she wants a payoff from it. What’s in it for her? Thomas … well … he’s all about Thomas!
How do you teach empathy and compassion? I don’t think you can really do it. My children have all been shown the same values and morals by the way we live our life and how others have treated us in the course of Julia’s illness. There are no seperate expectaions for how we treat one another in our family and we try to reiterate the lessons of kindness and compassion. Yet, we each seem to come into this world with a set personality and the events of our lives futher enhances our temperment.

I will keep plugging along and hoping after the hormones are done surging through my tween he will be more aware of the suffering of others. Possibly, the further we move away from Julia’s being the Center of the Universe and she realizes that she is not sick anymore, the closer we will move towards a more compassionate and understanding young lady. I also hope that the world of elementary school followed by Middle School, doesn’t jade my sweetest child. Time will tell, but I am open to advice, suggestions and “I’ve been there” stories!

By the way, I did NOT teach them the Hobo thing! They got that word all on their own, well with the help of ICarly, that is!



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