Don’t overdo the empathy

Home > National >

print dictionary print

Don’t overdo the empathy


I feel defiant from time to time. For example, when “Youth, It’s Painful” became a best seller, I wanted to claim, “Well, youth has always been a pain.” The young generation complains how they have to give up dating, marriage and having kids because of financial difficulties. But even my generation and my parents’ generation could not afford to date, get married or have kids. In fact, we suffered even harsher conditions. But we still fell in love, got married and lived humbly. We had kids and raised them the best we could. Why do the young people say they are struggling and have to give up?

If I’m critical of the young, people say, “You’re getting old,” and “Times have changed.” Some may argue that everyone has a different threshold of pain and suffering. But I am not convinced that only the young are struggling, and they also ridicule the older generation politically. They praised the idea of sending the elderly to a hot springs resort on the day of the election to prevent them from voting. After the general election, they joked, “We may have to get rid of the heater at our parents’ house.” They claim to be the victim, but at the same time, they want to monopolize political correctness. Many middle-aged and old Koreans are resistant.

Among some young mothers, “empathy” is in fashion. The idea came from American parenting researcher Dr. John Gottman, who advocates the “emotion coaching” method. When parents understand and empathize with the emotions of the child, he will develop better social skills and thrive academically and physically. This is a proven method of child rearing, but the problem is the parents who are trying to empathize willy-nilly. When a child hits a friend, a parent says, “You must have been feeling upset.” When the child doesn’t want to go to kindergarten, the parent says, “You must be tired.” Some parents overuse it.

Perhaps another form of empathy is spreading in Korean society. While people claim to be victims, those willing to take responsibility are considered “has-beens.” When it comes to school violence, parents are worried that their children may become victims and completely rule out the possibility that their children may be the offenders. Politicians are trying to please the voters by sending empathetic messages without substantial plans.

Comforting them with fancy words, as if we can live for them, is a fraud. Some 30 years later, they’ll still be saying the same things.

*The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)