Empathetic parenting


This recent study shows that children whose parents empathetically helped them work through emotions were much more successful in handling stress as adults. [Click here for study] Furthermore, children whose parents were not emotionally supportive displayed an inability to accurately express negative emotions as young adults.

It's worth noting that "empathetic" parents did not validate negative emotions, but simply did not have a knee-jerk response to shut their kids up. Rather, they helped the child dig deeper into what they were actually feeling. This is sort of like what therapists have to do with individuals who didn't get this from their parents!

As a marriage therapist, I can definitely see how the effects of divorce can lead to the negative parenting patterns highlighted in this article, and parents getting a divorce still ought to consult a therapist to help work out what cooperative parenting will look like afterward. Such efforts might prevent emotional illiteracy or even a fear of emotions in many children. Divorce does not have to be traumatic for children--parents choose to make it so by ignoring the issue.

As a trauma therapist, I can say with near certainty (given the prevalence of trauma) that some of the participants were trauma victims. One of the most common effects of trauma is a fear of strong emotion, and an interpretation of strong emotion as threatening. This can also be effectively addressed in therapy.

If you are more of an egghead, the article has a link to the actual scientific article. I apologize ahead of time for some of the silliness on this website, but I found this article to be helpful.