On Empathy

Lemon Stripes On Empathy

Anel and I are jetting off to Bermuda today with Amalia for a quick Thanksgiving vacation with just the three of us. Today’s post was originally going to focus on what I’m feeling thankful for this year (and some early Black Friday deals) but I bet you anything you can guess what I’m thankful for and what stores I would be linking to! Something happened yesterday that made me decide last minute to write about another very important and timely topic: Empathy.

In my opinion, empathy is one of the most important qualities to have in order to be a good person. Understanding what another person is going through and feeling for them in a tough situation comes second nature to me (most of the time) and I credit a lot of that to my mother who taught me about empathy from a very young age.

But I’ve learned as an adult, that not everyone inherently feels empathy the way I do. The current political climate and recent midterm elections proved this to me even more. There are two very strong-minded sides of the aisle politically and people on each one thinks the other is bad, wrong, and/or evil. Myself included, by the way…

But then I posted an Instagram story about being kind to people with opposing views and had so many meaningful and incredible conversations with women who I don’t necessarily see eye to eye with.

I will probably never agree with them or their beliefs, but I could calmly talk to them and understand they they are good people even though we don’t necessarily want the same things for the world. That felt like a small win.

Motherhood and politics are similar in this way.

There are so many opposing views on how to raise your children, and everyone thinks that their way is the best way. But what I’m urging you to do this holiday season (and forever, really) is to open your ears, eyes, and hearts to other parents, listen to what they’re doing and, even if you don’t agree with it, empathize with it. You have no idea what they’re going through with their children on any given day. Every situation, every family is unique. So parenting styles will be unique. Obviously this doesn’t apply to anyone who verbally or physically abuses their kid in any way shape or form.

Last night I posted the photo above to Instagram with this as a caption:

“Tonight I was THAT mom. My child was fussy and teething and running around Target like a crazy person, but we decided to take her out to dinner anyway. It was a hot mess, she screamed and didn’t want to sit in the high chair and refused to eat anything. It wasn’t like her, and I knew it was just because she was tired and in pain but the people around us didn’t know that and gave us the dirtiest looks. It was so embarrassing but after a while I had to let it go and just do my best. It was a good reminder that we’re all just doing our best!”

Within an hour there was already a debate going on in the comments of the photo about whether or not it’s appropriate to take a fussy toddler out to dinner. Moms were getting really nasty to each other! And I felt so weird about it happening on my platform.

TBH, I’m torn on this topic and think it depends on the situation. I love a healthy argument or debate (just ask my husband) but I noticed that while most people were respectful in their arguments, I was shocked to see rude and judgey comments from other moms.  I don’t know why this behavior surprises me anymore… Mom shaming is real and it’s rampant.

But in this day and age when there is so much hatred and unhealthy debate going on in the world, I like to think that we can make a difference on a small scale by simply being kind to each other. Express your opinion, please! I always encourage that. But do it in a way that doesn’t bring the person on the other side of the aisle down. Whether that aisle is democrat/republican or sleep training/attachment parenting.

This week is all about giving thanks. I feel thankful to live in a country where we have a democracy, even if it looks different than how I wish it looked. I’m thankful that you and I have the freedom of speech, and I hope that I can encourage and empower use that privilege in a positive way. Who’s with me?

Note added on 11/21: I had no idea that this post would strike a nerve with so many people! My intention was to spread kindness and positivity and not shut anyone down in any way. I don’t think I was clear in my original copy but I want to be clear now that the comments I was referring to were about how mothers were speaking to each other, not to me. I’m shutting down comments on this post for the rest of today and tomorrow not to keep anyone quiet but just so that I can enjoy my vacation for a few days. I hope that you understand! I’ll open commenting back up on Friday and encourage you to voice your opinions then. Much love from Bermuda xx

Notes added on 11/23: Comments are back open! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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