When your child gets stuck in a certain emotion like sadness or pain, and cannot get out of it, as a parent, you empathise with him/her and you both get upset together.
However, empathy does not help your child to get out of these emotions, change the situation and create other possibilities.
Being empathetic always makes you feel like you are “connected”. However, the feeling of “connectedness” can hinder your child from setting himself/herself free to choose something that works, because “emotional connectedness” can tie him/her down and this does not allow the perception that there are many other choices available.
So what can you do?
First of all, you may want to be aware of your own emotional reactions, thoughts and beliefs.
For example, when your child is ignored by a bunch of his/her friends, (a very common type of bullying in Japan) and you feel devastated to watch your child experiencing it.
Emotions are there to be felt, so allow you and your child to feel them without resisting them. Let them flow through you. At the same time, see all of this as information to know what belief systems you have regarding the situation. This can be valuable information that can help you trace back and discover your thoughts and beliefs that trigger these emotions.
Thoughts and belief systems (judgement) trigger emotions.
In this case, parents also think that “being ignored by friends is terrible” or “if friends/other people don’t accept me, I feel as if I don’t exist”. It is also possible that the parent has experienced what the child is currently experiencing.
If the parents are not aware that they can change their thoughts, then they cannot help their child to be aware of other possibilities.
Being free from “being a victim” is required here for both of you and your child. If you buy into your child’s friends’ scenario, that disempowers your child by making him/her feel that he/she has no control over this situation, you make your child “a victim”. That is exactly what they want.
On the other hand, when you or your child “fight against” bullying, it solidifies your child’s position as a victim too. Reactions do not remove your child from being whom these friends think he/she should be.
Being a “victim” is forced upon your child by the friends. “Would you like to take it?” Your child is free to choose.
Instead, what you may want to do is to allow your child to see himself/herself as the creator of his/her own life.
Whether your child chooses something different beyond his/her current reality totally depends on his/her willingness. Parents cannot do anything about it.
However, you can help him/her to be aware that he/she is the creator of everything in life, and this assists him/her tremendously in changing anything he/she wishes to experience in life.
In this case, if you want your child to be aware, you can ask questions like...
“Was the relationship working for you even before this happened?”
“Maybe you can try to see it from....“what if you created this situation?”’
“If there is anything at all that you wanted that came true in this situation, what is that?”
Your child may become upset or even angry about your questions at first. “How could you say that! No one wants to be in this situation.”
"That is so stupid, if I actually created this awful situation." Some may even blame themselves for letting it happen to themselves and say, "I should not have done this and done that.”
Who knows? Your child may have been feeling uncomfortable with those friends for quite a while and he/she may have wanted to experience something different in the relationship or not wanted to be friends. However, he/she is not aware of this yet.
Then you could ask your child,
“Would caring friends do that?”
“What kind of friends do you really want?
Of course how it happened may not be how your child wanted it to happen.
But here is the thing..... “What did you really want?” “What is true for you?”
He/she now has a chance to see the situation completely differently, and to know that it isn't necessary to agree to be in the box of being a “victim” based on their friends’ value. Your child begins to be aware that he/she can CHOOSE. Someone who knows that he/she always has choices cannot be controlled by anyone.
To choose something different totally depends on your child’s willingness. However, you can be the one to invite your child to be aware of choices around him/her.
This will require you to be a conscious parent rather than an empathetic parent.