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How Staying in a Hotel Teaches Empathy

My heart hurts for the world and many recent events.   When a tragedy happens we all wonder what we can do and then we go about our day, doing nothing to change the future.  As I stated in my last post, I think having empathy for others is something you can do.  No, it won’t fix everything, but it could help.  Being more empathetic is easy.  Teaching your children empathy is easy.

I like to travel.  I like to travel with my kids.  Once when they were young, we entered our hotel room.  The kids thought that was the greatest thing ever and proceeded to jump up and down and squeal.  Of course, being a responsible adult, I told them to be quiet and stop jumping.  But I didn’t JUST tell them to stop, I explained that there are people above and below us and to the left and to the right of us.  Jumping up and down and squealing is probably very annoying to them.  Sadly, just telling my kids about the feelings of others in the hotel didn’t allow them to UNDERSTAND the feelings of others.  Later that evening, as my kids were worn out from a long day of travel and just wanting to fall asleep…you guessed it, some lovely children in the hotel room above ours began jumping up and down and squealing.  Apparently their parents didn’t feel as strongly as I do about empathy and no one stopped them.  Delightfully (to me, anyway), my kids were very annoyed.  With probably more smugness than I should have had, I pointed out that now they could UNDERSTAND the feelings of others.  This was empathy.  Unfortunately the valuable life lesson the annoying kids upstairs taught us didn’t help us sleep, but oh well.