An Aha Moment About Compassionate Parenting

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Oprah Daily’s latest “The Life You Want” Class, on compassion and empathy, with Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s executive chairman and founder of The Compassion Project, offered many nuggets of wisdom. One of those gems occurred when Weiner addressed the misconception that compassion is a sign of weakness. He pointed out that showing compassion takes vulnerability, and when that is done in front of others, it requires courage, self-esteem, and endurance. “The most compassionate people I know are the strongest people I know,” he says.

While listening to Weiner speak, Insider Erin had an aha moment about parenting. Weiner’s words led her to recall an interaction that she had with her autistic son while at Walmart. Previously, when her son exhibited certain behavior in public, she felt embarrassed and worried that other moms were judging her. On this particular occasion, when he dropped to the floor and began doing “stemming patterns,” she did as well, ignoring the judgment. She engaged with her son and, in return, had a meaningful connection with him that didn’t end with carrying him out of the store or disciplinary action, as it had in the past.

Here (and in the clip above), Erin explains the details of the Walmart interaction and thanks Weiner for teaching her what compassion truly means.

Oprah: Erin, talk to me about how you used to worry about bringing your femininity into your leadership and how that could be seen as weak, and how your son actually helped to change this for you.

Erin:
Yeah. This was so profound for me today, Jeff, because I really used to think that compassion or that feminine energy in leadership was a sign of weakness. And so I used to stuff all that down, and everything we’ve just been talking about reminded me of when my son was first diagnosed on the autism spectrum. His behavior was a little atypical, and so we would be out places and I would look around being like, Oh, gosh, please don’t... I guess the judgment from other moms is more what I was worried about in the early days. And then I had this shift, this moment, where I just tried to understand him. And so we’d be in Walmart; he’d be on the floor doing these little stemming patterns.

And so when I got on the floor with him in Walmart, leaving that ego piece behind that you were talking about earlier, right? And just getting all dirty and doing circles on the floor with him, we would connect. We would have a moment, and his behavior would change, and there was no discipline required. I didn’t ever have to football-carry him out of the store. It just changed the way not only that I parented, but the way our relationship grew. And I did not realize until today that that was compassion. That’s just such a profound thing you just taught me today. So thank you for that.

To see the full episode of “The Life You Want” Class on compassion and empathy, and to catch up on previous classes, click here.

You Might Also Like