My teen son and his friends

Empathy is the ability that we have to understand the feelings of others. Oftentimes, empathy comes from personal experiences that have placed us in similar situations, and we understand how the other person might be feeling. 

My 16-year-old son shared with me an experience that touched me very deeply. We are survivors of domestic violence, and this has changed the way we see many things. He told me that one of his female friends from school was experiencing some sort of abusive behavior from her boyfriend (who is also in the same age group). 

Showing empathy is a teen milestone – in this picture we created a circle of friends between me, my son, and his friends.

He explained that when he noticed that she was sad, he asked her what was going on, and she told him about her boyfriend being aggressive towards her. My son immediately empathized with her situation and advised her to ask for help and to stop seeing this boyfriend. He also told her she could count on him for support. Knowing that my son was capable of showing this level of empathy made me so proud of my boy and about how mature he handled this situation. Showing empathy is a teen milestone. 

If you are a parent of a teenager, I would recommend you pay attention to their developmental milestones and celebrate them, as they show your kids are growing with a strong and healthy emotional character. 

Me and my son

The Center for Parent and Teen Communication provides science-based strategies to support healthy family relationships, and they haave put together a wonderful list of teenager milestones you can read here. Let me know in the comments if you have seen any of these milestones happening in your teenager’s life, and how you feel about that.

You can also subscribe to the Center for Parent and Teen Communication 100-word, daily parenting tip newsletter for additional guidance here

This post is made possible with support from the Center for Parent and Teen Communication, part of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. All opinions are my own.

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