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Empathetic parenting: Pros and Cons

Arden's Day Blog

Arden's Day is a type I diabetes care giver blog written by author Scott Benner. Scott has been a stay-at-home dad since 2000, he is the author of the award winning parenting memoir, 'Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal'. Arden's Day is an honest and transparent look at life with diabetes - since 2007.

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Empathetic parenting: Pros and Cons

Scott Benner

Empathetic parenting has benefits but comes at a price...

empathy - noun em·pa·thy \ˈem-pə-thē\

1:  the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it

2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also :  the capacity for this

Below are some excerpts from a Quartz article about the benefits and risks of empathy as it relates to parenting and caregiving. I thought we all would benefit from reading the findings. I pulled some interesting passages but encourage you to click over to Quartz and take in the entire article.

Best,

Scott


Caregivers of people with chronic illness develop chronic inflammation and elevated stress hormones over time
— Quartz

Kids with empathetic parents have well-documented advantages: less depression, less aggression, more empathy themselves. Parents also report better self-esteem when they make the effort to understand their children’s feelings.

But inside, it’s tearing them up.

It’s not selfish for parents to make time for those things—it’s actually critical for their own mental and physical health.
— Erika M. Manczak

Empathy requires us to push our own feelings aside to focus on someone else’s, an effort linked to increased stress and higher inflammation. Empathetic parents may also be more willing to sacrifice their own health for their children’s sake, forgoing things like sleep, exercise, and other activities that could mitigate the stress of caregiving.

In adolescents, parental empathy was significantly associated with both better emotion regulation and with less systemic inflammation.

For parents, being empathic was associated with greater self-esteem and purpose in life, but also with higher systemic inflammation.
— American Psychological Association