Empathy: Our daughter & her friend

Children’s life stories

A couple of months ago, the mothers of the girls in our daughter’s class had a social gathering to discuss their children’s relationships with one another. By all accounts, it was a very successful and sweet get-together.

Each of the mothers talked about her respective daughter and the child’s life experiences, personality, and challenges, including difficult life circumstances such as deaths of close family members and divorces. One mother reported that her divorce from her former husband and father of her children had been terribly acrid; and, unfortunately, it had left their children deeply scarred. It so happens that her daughter is one of our child’s closer friends; but she does often yell at her and at other children; and she has a tendency to lash out in anger.

Anyway, following the mothers’ gathering, we spoke to our daughter about her friend’s parents’ difficult divorce. We explained that challenging life circumstances don’t justify poor behavior, but they do help explain it. Our daughter’s friend, we said, is living in pain.


A sweet interaction

A couple of weeks ago, I passed by this girl and her brother on my way to the school in the afternoon, and the child stopped to say hello. Following this, she told me that my daughter had given up her spot in a game for her out of kindness, which I thought was very sweet.

Upon arriving at the school, I asked my child about this, and she explained that several children had been playing a game in which the players had to wear paper bands around their heads; and a boy had rudely grabbed her friend’s headband away from her. Feeling bad for the girl, especially because of her different family situation, our daughter kindly gave her own headband to her friend and sat out that round of the game.

I was very touched by our daughter’s sensitivity and behavior; and I was also very moved by the fact that her friend had appreciated her gesture enough to let me, as her friend’s parent, know about it (knowing that I’d rightfully be proud of my child). This is a sweet memory that I’ll still be recalling many, many years from now.

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