Raising Teen Daughters: Empathy vs Sympathy

From http://www.buzzle.com

Can we ever understand teenage girls if even such experienced psychologist Nigel Latta openly admitted in his Politically Incorrect Guide to Teenagers, that he “didn’t understand the physics of the Girl-niverse”? “If a boy goes off the rail,” continues Latta, “he generally drinks alcohol, takes some drugs, gets into some petty crime and hits a few people. When girls go off the rails, they have a capacity to create degrees of chaos that are hard to believe. When girls go off the rails, the earth shifts on its axis”.

From http://lifetoheryears.com/50rules

So how can fathers help their daughters to go through that complicated stage in life? How can fathers understand their teenage daughters, those beautiful fairy princesses who suddenly turn into demonic uncontrollable monsters?

A few days ago I came across a story that touched my heart: a story of a father, who not only made an effort to understand his teenage daughter, but possibly rescued his troubled daughter from years of despair and near suicide. This story is provided below.


From http://www.ufunk.net

“I know of a couple with three grown children. This is a good family… The father did a good deal of traveling for his work while his daughter and two boys were growing up His relationship with them was sound and safe, but he just wasn’t around very much. Everything was fine until his teenage daughter started having behavioral problems at school and then with the law.

Each time she got in trouble, her anxious, time-conscious father would sit down with her and try to talk through the problem. They would go around on the same issues every time: “I’m too fat, I’m too ugly.” “No, you are not, you’re beautiful to me.” “You have to say that, you’re my dad.” “I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true.” “Yes, you would” “Do you think I’d lie to you?” And the discussion would turn to the question of the father’s honesty. Or he would tell her a story from his own youth, like the one about how he grew up with skinny arms and shoulders and everyone made fun of him. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?” she would say.

From http://www.dongallagherllc.com

Things would calm down, he’d leave town, and the cycle would start again. He was on a trip when his wife rang him to say their daughter had disappeared. Frantically, he caught a plane home and the family fretted for days while the search went on. At last she turned up in a runaway shelter in another city, and the parents collected her.

That night he and his wife talked things through. “I do not know what to do about her,” he confessed. His wife replied, “You might try listening to her.” “What do you mean? I listen to her constantly.”

His wife gave him a half smile. “Go and listen to her. Don’t talk. Don’t talk. Just listen.”

mate preferenceFrom http://www.huffingtonpost.com

He sat down with his daughter, who was still silent, and asked her, “Would you like to talk?” She shook her head, but he stayed where he was, silent as well. It was getting dark before she finally spoke. “I just don’t want to live anymore.”

Alarmed, he fought the urge to protest this and said softly, “You don’t want to live anymore.” This was followed by about five minutes of silence – the longest five minutes in his life, he later said.

“I’m just not happy, Dad. I don’t like anything about myself. I want it to be over.”

“You’re not happy at all,” he breathed.

The girl began to cry. In fact, she began to sob intensely, trying to talk at the same time, words flowing like a flood. It was as if a dam had burst. She talked into the early morning hours, he said hardly ten words, and the next day things looked hopeful. Where before he was giving her only sympathy, at last he had discovered empathy.

From http://www.gurl.com

This was only the first “psychological airing” of many over the next few hard adolescent years, but the young girl is now a woman, calm and confident in herself and her father’s love for her. That he would seek her out, that he would value the outpourings of her heart instead of imposing his version of reality on her, helped give her a robust foundation for life.

From http://www.sheknows.com

When tensions are high and confidence is low, when the next step doesn’t look clear at all, when a wall has gone up, try an experiment with empathy.

  • Go to the other side and say, “You see things differently. I need to listen to you.”
  • Give full attention. Don’t multitask while you’re listening. Don’t judge, evaluate, analyse, advise, toss in your footnotes, critique, or quarrel.
  • Be quiet. You don’t have to provide an answer, a verdict, a solution, or a “fix”. Free yourself from all that pressure. Just sit back and listen.
  • Speak only to keep the flow going. Say things like “Tell me more,” or “ Go on.”
  • Pay close attention to emotions. Affirm feelings.
  • Remember, you are listening to a story. When you go to a movie, you don’t interrupt and argue with the story and talk back to the screen. You’re involved, your sense of reality is suspended, you’re almost is a trance.
  • Be ready to learn. If you’re open, you’ll gain insights that will lighten up your own mind and complement your own perspective.
  • Show some gratitude. It’s a great compliment to be invited into the mind and heart of another human being…”

From “The 3rd alternative” by Stephen R Covey

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The Poison of Gossip

 How to Avoid Gossip and Stay Popular
From http://insidetech.monster.com

People gossip for many reasons, often due to insecurity. Most gossip arises from either a misguided desire to defend oneself against another who is perceived as harmful, or in order to connect more strongly to others in our social groups. 

gossiping funny quotes quote lol funny quote funny quotes humor gossipFrom Pinterest

How can gossiping be distinguished from other ways of sharing information in a social context?

Firstly, by intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of bearers of knowledge.

Secondly, by the type of information being shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

Pope Francis’s words offer us a clue as to where to draw the line between gossip and heartfelt conversation: does the conversation aim to work toward unity and reconciliation, or is its aim self-assertion or putting down others?
"What do I do with my life? Do I create unity around me? Or do I cause division by gossip, criticism, or envy?" --Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy

From http://www.ignatianspirituality.com 

How can we deal with gossip?

  1. Before speaking, ask yourself these several simple questions mentally about what you’re about to say before speaking aloud:
    • How would you like it if someone said this about you or your beloved ones?
    • Is it true? Maybe it is, but is repeating it necessary?
    • Is it kind? It may be true, about yourself or someone else, but if it will harm another, you have no right to repeat it.
    • Is it just?
    • Is it honest, compassionate, with the person’s best interest at heart?
    • Does the other person need to know that?

    • From http://luisapariciofernandes.blogspot.co.nz
  2. When speaking about other people, choose positive words. It might be fun to say a little nasty joke behind someone’s back laughing at people’s clothes, hair, careers, talent, choices, and/or emotional state. However just because things are fun and easy doesn’t mean we should do them. Challenge yourself to resist that temptation.

Words have the power to destroy or to heal. Choose to communicate with affection, warmth & encouragement.From Pinterest

3. Silence is good. Don’t just talk to fill the air with conversation. Speak only when you feel that your words are better than your silence. 

From http://godisheart.blogspot.co.nz/

4. Be careful who you open up to.


From Accent of English Language “AEL”

5. Be indifferent to gossip about yourself. Spending time focusing on the negative things people say about you will totally damage your focus and leave you questioning yourself. In order to forge ahead and stay true to yourself, you have to not care about other people’s opinions of you or your work, unless it provides constructive criticism.

behind my backFrom If you’re talking about me behind my back…

And don’t forget the feathers of gossip: once a gossip leaves someone’s mouth, no one knows where it ends up. It flies on the wings of the wind, and it is impossible to get it back.

 Resources:

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