This is the first in a series of posts about EMPATHY as I think that the lack thereof causes all of the problems in our lives. (You’ll understand as we go along).
The thought occurred to me the other day: all that any parent ever wants for their daughter is to see her end up with a guy who will treat her well. I imagine that nothing could bring a sense of relief than to see your child with the right partner. Conversely, nothing could bring more distress than to know your child is being mistreated or mishandled.
Parents have more control over their own sons than they do over other people’s sons, which is why parents of boys have a particularly important role to play in grooming them to be suitable partner. As the parent of 2 boys myself, it is a role I take especially seriously. Sure, nothing is wrong with being single too, but IN THE EVENT that they do find a partner, I’m putting all my energies into making sure they treat that future person the way that they should be treated.
I live in Trinidad and I must say that it is disheartening to see so many Trini men falling short in this regard (of being a suitable partner). Divorce or unhappy relationships seem to be more the norm than happy, stable ones. I posted a question on Fb recently, “How did you know your spouse was the one?” I have hundreds of contacts and only a handful replied.
Why? Seems that only a handful are happily married while the majority are either single or divorced. Is this an exception or the rule? A quick general survey of other people’s friends shows that single people are the norm these days. Which leads me to ponder: Are happy marriages going extinct?
What is a happy marriage anyway? Obviously, it is NOT a happily-ever-after fairytale scenario because in today’s real-world situations, nothing is problem-free. However, when a couple can work out their problems and not let it get in the way of their love and respect for one another, this is what I would define as “a happy relationship”. Of course, happiness is relative but certain universals apply. And the #1 quality I would recommend that a person look for in a future partner is true empathy or consideration. How do you know? Well, you must give the relationship time and it will reveal itself. This is why it is not a good idea to rush into a relationship or ignore red flags. In a recent study, it was found that how a person treats wait staff or those he feels is “beneath” him is a big sign of whether the relationship will work.
Perhaps the paucity of happy relationships is universal and not just localized to Trinidad. A common theme in most facebook posts is that single women everywhere are lamenting the dearth (not death, but that, too) of good men. Why should this be? I believe it’s because the parents of boys are falling short. Empathy is the greatest quality we should instil in our children: the idea of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
A man who has empathy would not expect the kitchen to be his wife’s domain, but instead, would eagerly assist in any and every aspect of household duties. He would actively participate in co-parenting and will not leave all the multi-tasking, household decision-making, planning and events-management up to her. There will be no division among “male” and “female” tasks and he would never ever find excuse to raise his hand or his voice to her. He would understand that pornography is just fantasy and that real fulfiling relationships are not just physical but multidimensional and take more time, effort and care, but are totally worth it.
In other words, simple consideration is lacking in our men today. Men of overprotective mothers are being primed to be narcissists and have an “it’s all about me” mentality.
I recently read about the horrific case of Chris and Shanann Watts. To all appearances, they seemed like the perfect couple: he was handsome, she was pretty and they had two gorgeous young girls. Then, without warning, he wiped them all off the face of the earth. Yep. Everyone’s who’s heard about this case is still stunned. Psychologists said he showed strong signs of “narcisisstic personality disorder”, or the belief that he was entitled to do whatever he wanted to get whatever he wanted. He lived a lie for years, portraying the image of the perfect husband and father, reluctantly going along with his wife’s wishes in order to maintain that image. Then it all exploded. I am baffled. He cannot even explain himself properly. I am mortified: this could be anyone.
What can we do but pray for the safety of our children sometimes? So much is outside of our control. Men who abuse, who harass women, we should ask them: if they wouldn’t want someone to treat their own daughter like that, why would they do it to someone else’s daughter?
Maybe it’s too late for some, that’s why I say, START EARLY. Take the kids to temple, get them interested in charities. Let them know that the world does not revolve around them. I’m a firm believer of, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” philosophy so I use the figurative “rod” a LOT. However, balance is necessary too, because you don’t want your child to be afraid of you. Rather, you want them to feel free to confide in you and discuss just about anything. Bottled-up feelings leads to bottled-up aggression, which is never good, as we have seen.
Parenting is a tough job. It’s definitely not easy. I cannot stress this enough. But it’s definitely one of the most rewarding jobs, when done right. It is not something that should take second place to our 8-4 jobs. Parenting IS the PRIORITY once you become a parent. Why? Because you are moulding future generations and the fate of our planet depends on you. This is no exaggeration. Good luck.