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A few years ago, my team was hiring a new leader. We interviewed someone who stated something like this: "I recently developed a sense of empathy after having a kid and I now know how important it is". My team and I were shocked to hear someone in their thirties, with a management position in a liberal industry making such a claim shamelessly. It took a kid to make you realize how important it is to be a decent person (our doubts were heavily colored by the fact that the guy was at the time working at Uber)? That rubbed the team the wrong way. He got rejected.

Today, I'd strongly support the claim that having a child brings a whole new perspective on empathy. When your kid gets mad at you for the first time it’s a shock. Their emotions are yours. A new variable enters the equation. When someone in the family feels bad, everyone is down.

Stepping back - there are a few, ostensibly fundamental things, I will never be able to fully understand. Because I was not raised with it. By raised I mean, frequently exposed to, since a very young age.

Major things: god, pets, television, and a sense of empathy.

Nothing seems to indicate that I missed much from the first 3 but that last one is different. I don't mind that my parents didn't care to bring these concepts into my worldview as a kid. Like most parents, I don't think they did it intentionally. I won't invent myself a sense of empathy in my 30s but I have a kid now.

There is no emotional development blueprint. Age and experience of life cannot fully be replaced by knowledge itself. It can be eased and acquired faster, but there is a cap to allow for knowledge to viscerally anchor. Raising a child has been much more than a perspective shift. It’s the process of maturation itself.

P.S: Perhaps this post is a bit cheeky, highlighting the irony of the candidate who claimed newfound empathy through parenthood, while contrasting it with my own experience of raising a child? When oit come to empathy does having a kid beat management training? I really hope so.

← Index / Published on 2024-06-06