If there's one thing MamaBear hates regarding her fellow human beans, it's how sooo many of them will never step up to the plate for their friends unless proactively asked (and sometimes, even then).
Think about it.
Have you ever been so distraught and so overwrought with issues and challenges that taking a long walk off of a short pier sounds like the most fantastic vacation imaginable?
Think back to those times. Wouldn't hearing from a friend or loved one…have made all the difference?
It never ceases to amaze me quite how self-pre-occupied people can be with themselves….and how, even when their friends beg them for support, they simply ignore it and hope it goes away.
It's really horrible.
Somehow from my generation to now, the fine art of being there for one's friends has truly been lost for a multitude of peoples. I truly believe that what goes around, comes around…and I try to always walk the walk that shows an unconditional support to the people I love. Even when it's not returned, I remind myself of the following line from a poem:
…What should a person do: Should a person be tougher and more protective of themselves even though they take away from the full effect of friendship….Or should you be more vulnerable and weak and open to possible disappointment….
I am WEAK! Not because I choose to be this way….but rather because in all honesty, I know no other way….
Someday I have to republish the entire poem. It's awesome beyond belief.
But I digress. 🙂
Instilling empathy within your children, *without* compelling them to be a doormat, is a very desirable trait indeed!
Here's how to do it.
Step 1.) Whenever you see your child struggling with something, proactively offer support.
Don't wait to be asked. Simply stroll over and give a sentence or two of, "I believe in you! I'll bet what you're doing is really tough, huh?" and stuff like that.
Walking the walk and leading by example – it's a great thing indeed.
Step 2.) When the crisis has passed, debrief with your kid and point out the following.
"Think how you felt when I came by to cheer you on. Being able to do that for the people you love, or your friends, or what have you….it's a free way to really raise someone's spirits.
And remember, you didn't ask me to come by; I saw your need and wanted to help.
This is something you can do too when your friends have problems as well!"
Don't pound the lesson in….just let it simmer.
Step 3.) Be alert for when you hear of your kids' close friends having issues.
When that happens, gently remind them of how great they felt when you supported them during times of stress…and suggest they send a helpful/supportive text to their friend.
And if your child pushes back and says, Mom, they didn't ask to hear from me….tell them:
"Good friends can hear without the words being said."
And that's all there is to it.
Now, true…empathy does take time. Unless you've been raised with it, it's something that requires years of growing.
And there's always the danger that your child will expect the favor to be returned.
Never expect this.
I've had experiences where I have been there for several dear friends… but when I needed the help/support, it just didn't arrive. 🙁 The good news is I've learned I cannot rely on them…the bad news is, well, I learned I cannot rely on them.
Life. It happens.
Still, though, I will not change; being there is something that is inherent within my soul and spirit.
When your kids learn how to be there for their friends (assuming said friends are true and not fair-weather)….
It's a life skill that will benefit them when *they* become parents as well.
And that, of course, is a Very Good Thing indeed.