In his book, If I Were to Raise My Family Again, John Dreschler tells of a little boy trying to get his father’s attention after scraping his knee.
His dad impatiently looks up from his paper and barks, “Well, what can I do about it?”
The boy, hurt by his harsh response, shrugs and says, “You could say ‘Ouch.’”
You could say ouch. What a wonderful metaphor to remind us of the power and importance of caring and taking the time to show it. The boy wasn’t asking his dad to solve a problem; he was simply trying to share an event.
Because I have a tendency to focus on fixing rather than feeling, I too have to remind myself that empathy is not an intellectual ability; it’s an emotional quality with healing power that works only when expressed. Sometimes just listening and showing genuine interest and compassion is all that’s needed. With four young daughters and a sensitive wife, I’m still learning that tenderness is more important than toughness.
When my kids were little, the remedy for every “ouchie” was a kiss from mommy or daddy directly on the wounded area. In serious cases, a bandage was also required. It’s easy to laugh at, but there’s something truly wonderful about how often a loving kiss makes things better for young children.
We shouldn’t underestimate the healing power of sincere compassion, concern, and affection. And we ought to try it more on adults. Take a moment to acknowledge their ouchies, too, and simply be there – with a kiss, a hug, or a kind word of consolation.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.