This week a couple of my favorites! The Gift and Empathy; both are so important to raising a happy, healthy and responsible young man.
5.) We all have a gift, it’s what makes us unique and different; your son needs to know what gifts he was born with. He needs to know his Golden Gift.
Many times, I see young men that are depressed, insecure, and frankly unsure of “who” they really are. They feel no matter what they do it isn’t good enough. They are constantly trying to live up to a parent(s) expectations by being what their parent(s) wants them to be.
Ask yourself, are you that parent?
One process we work through in The Quest Project® is identifying the “gift.” It’s what makes us special and unique. I’ve witnessed many young men work hard and make great progress in their search to identify their “authentic self,” which begins by knowing their gift!
They begin to contemplate “who is the man I’m going to become.” They discover just how important, gifted and unique they are. And the result is, they feel liberated and that translates to higher self esteem!
The best way to help your son is by allowing him to be what he’s meant to be, stop trying to force him to live your dream, or live the life you wish you had. It’s normal that you want better for your son. I see parents all the time who attempt to live vicariously through their children, and their children are miserable as a result; be conscience of your needs but more so to his!
6.) When boys learn empathy, they gain a better sense of their limitations and the limitations of others, and how to treat each other.
Empathy is a core value, an important feeling, and when we protect kids from experiencing it they become numb to what someone else is going through. They simply don’t care.
For instance, when you take your son to a homeless shelter and have him volunteer to serve lunch to the less fortunate, he “sees” first-hand what it might be like if he were homeless. Mowing the lawn for the elderly lady down the street who struggles with mobility, teaches him empathy for the challenges and limitations the elderly face.
Let him see some of the bad news on t.v. where kids and parents are crying because there was a shooting that day, instead of quickly changing the channel; (of course baring the inappropriate and/or age appropriate). He can “see/feel” the sadness and hurt; he will experience the feeling of never wanting to be in that situation. He’ll feel sad by witnessing sadness.
Caution: I’m not suggesting that you fill him up with sad and depressing news. I am suggesting not to shelter him too much that he has no exposure to the consequences of bad choices, and at times merely life in action.
Four easy suggestions on teaching empathy:
- Modeling-modeling good behavior starts with you! Your attitude, demeanor and expressions define what your son copies.
- Active listening-that’s 100% of your attention! When your son is expressing himself (they rarely do!) pay attention and listen intently.
- Teach-teach him how feelings and behaviors affect others; display empathy yourself.
- Volunteer-there are an abundance of organizations that not only welcome but need volunteers; get involved and let him see first-hand how to help others. One of the awesome side effects of teaching and experiencing empathy is this, you and your son can “fill the tank,” (your hearts) with good!
Next week I’ll dive into 7 & 8, relationships and the value system. Don’t miss it!