Archive for the ‘Empathy’ Category

What legacy will you leave behind?

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you. – Princess Diana

Parents wonder if our children hear our words, learn the lessons we try to share or see the actions we model. Yet sometimes we see a glimmer of hope as they perform a random act of kindness for a classmate or ask you to help a stranger.

At those times you secretly smile and think, ‘ah yes! It is working.’

Well if you ever have doubt, I suggest you look at Prince William and Prince Harry 20 years after their mother, Princess Diana’s death. Even though they were still relatively young when she died, they witnessed how she genuinely cared for those less fortunate and take up their own causes today.

Our children shouldn’t believe they are the center of the universe. It’s likely they are fortunate and should be encouraged to help others. There’s a commercial that really bothers me where a little girl asks viewers if she is cute and responds herself saying, “I think I am.” But then goes on to say that mom and dad can’t play with her because they are busy cleaning. Is it just me or does anyone else think that the cute little girl can help mom and dad? She gets to learn what is like to do a little housework and help mom and dad so everybody can play!

If we are concerned about the polarization of views in this country, a unifying view could be that kindness always makes things better. Anyone disagree with that?

Start kids thinking early about helping others. One way is to sponsor a child through Children Incorporated. Their mission is to provide resources to children in need in the United States and abroad. They passionately believe that children everywhere deserve education, hope and opportunity. Our kids may need to know every child doesn’t start out with the same advantages.

Like Princess Diana, our legacy is that we should leave the world a better place for our children. It may be a small start, but much like Saturday chores, why not make them active participants?

Have a great week!


Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Follow me



The value in finding a common enemy

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

To me… it appears that there have been differences of opinion and party differences, from the first establishment of government to the present day, and on the same question which now divides our own country; that these will continue through all future time; that every one takes his side in favor of the many, or of the few, according to his constitution, and the circumstances in which he is placed. – Thomas Jefferson


This is a call to action to move from divisiveness to finding common ground, which can be achieved by addressing common societal enemies.


A few disparate events in my life highlight the challenges we have listening to each other.

  • My six-month old grandson Matthew was ‘talking’ to me in baby babble. I had no way to understand what he was saying but nevertheless I listened because it was obvious what he had to say was quite important.
  • My daughter Noelle’s wedding was exactly one month before the Presidential election. We strongly discouraged political conversation.
  • We had a Thanksgiving rule at our house. At the dinner table, phones and politics were not allowed. It was a lovely dinner!
  • I have good friends that attended the Inauguration on January 20th, and I have good friends that attended marches on January 21st.

We are not able to communicate with each other because we have vastly differing points of view and refuse to listen to each other. We gravitate to those with the same point of view, but don’t engage in conversation with those who don’t see things the same way. With a few notable exceptions, such as Hitler and Osama bin Laden, people are rarely pure evil.

Yet when there is a crisis, such as a multi vehicle car wreck, we don’t ask about political affiliation, but immediately jump in to help. People are amazed at their strength and ability to work together.

It is that thinking that we need now to creatively solve distinct and different problems to demonstrate how we can work together by starting with things we agree on. By engaging in real conversation, you know the kind where one person is talking and the other is really listening…we can create persuasive arguments.

Here is one to get us started; there is a crisis in quality childcare for many working parents, isolation for many elders, and college costs so high that it is impossible for students to even consider college.

What if we combined the challenges of those groups, and found solutions so they could help each other?


If you’ve got a better idea how to fix this, I’m listening.


Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®


Food fixes everything, especially problems with society

Sunday, October 30th, 2016


If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Mother Teresa

If you’re like me, you want to disconnect from all election news.

Why do we hang our hopes on a leader for societal improvements?   Are we going to have these same conversations four years from now? Eight years from now?

What if the changes were easier than we thought, and we don’t need to wait for anyone?

I believe we can, and change simply begins with food.

Think about when you are happy?   It usually involves, family, friends and food, and connecting with each other around the table. It so happens there are grass movements (ha ha literally!) going on in the country to make sure everyone has access to healthy food.

  1. It begins with school gardens, community gardens, and with the help of the Roofing Advisors rooftop gardens are possible too.
  2. It’s as simple as making sure a child has a good breakfast before school.
  3. It’s as real as a billionaire believing in chickens.

These powerful movements can grow with a single seed.  What do you say we each plant one?

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Unfortunately our present may be our future

Monday, July 18th, 2016

hope is not a strategy

Each week as the adults are talking about the current example of unimaginable violence, we worry about what to tell the kids.  Instead of protecting them, share your values.  Let them know how you expect them to treat others.

As an example, this past weekend a friend was at a fast food restaurant with her 13 year-old son.  She asked him to hold the table as she got the food.  After they left, he began crying in the car and told his mom three kids called him an F… Slow Stupid Retard. He is autistic.

The mom told her son the boys probably don’t have parents that teach them right from wrong.  They may not be loved as he is loved.  They simply may not know any better.  But we do.

Hope is not a strategy, but decisive planning is.  Don’t expect your children to learn kindness or empathy on their own.  As their greatest and most important teachers, that is our job.

We are being distracted by things such as Pokémon Go.  We have to be careful or the cult film Idiocracy will be our future.  The good news is that when children are born, they don’t know the hate or prejudice that are the root cause of our problems as indicated in the lyrics below from South Pacific.  Perhaps, we’ll get lucky and the parents who would teach hate and fear will be too busy playing Pokémon Go.

You’ve got to be taught

To hate and fear,

You’ve got to be taught

From year to year,

It’s got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You’ve got to be carefully taught

lyrics from South Pacific

Hoping for an uneventful week.

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®


Teaching Empathy – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

 “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

– Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

It was the PTO’s annual ‘meet the candidates’ for the Board of Education.  One speaker promised funds would stay in the district and not go to other (implied poorer) districts. I raised my hand and asked if said differently, aren’t we responsible to ensure all children have a good education? No reaction.

At that point I realized that my kids were going to school with his kids, and we have the responsibility to teach our children that all children didn’t have the same start in life.  But how could we do that without lecturing?

Our solution was to sign up for Big Brothers/Big Sisters where we were introduced to a wonderful mom and her two children, close in age to our kids.  As often happens when you try to help someone else, you gain so much more.

The first time we picked up our little brother and sister it was like The Wizard of Oz film transition from black and white to Technicolor, but in reverse.  We left the lush and gorgeous colors of our pretty middle class town to the sepia tones of the inner city.

It was immediately apparent playing outside was not an option as evidenced by the hypodermic needles strewn on the walkway, and questionable characters standing guard on the rooftop.  While we found it helpful to introduce the kids to our simple world of apple picking, bowling and trips to the city, they had given us and our children a view of life we could have never understood.

To do this day we continue our relationship with this family, who have become an extension of ours.

When a parent teaches the gift of empathy, that connection changes everything.

What can you?

  • Use the word empathy which is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., to place oneself in another’s shoes. Ask open ended questions when children present a situation, such as “Tell me about it” or “How do you think she felt?”
  • Set the example.  Be empathetic and caring to your child and others, and she will learn. Because she loves you, believes you are perfect, and wants to be just like you, she will grow up wanting to treat herself and others with the same loving kindness she gets from you.

Parenting with empathy helps your child to learn to manage his emotions, while experiencing your empathy will also help him to develop empathy for others. A child who feels empathy is more cooperative in accepting your guidance, making parenting a lot easier!

Be sure to like Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page and share stories where your child demonstrated empathy.  We’d love to hear from you.

If you would like to receive the weekly email, simply signup here.

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter



To listen is to lead

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. -Epictetus


I’m a fan of round tables.

Hierarchy isn’t quite as evident at round tables as it is when people are sitting at rectangular tables.  Parents and leaders sit at the head of the table during meals and meetings respectively.  You may have noticed a correlation to someone’s position at the table and domination of the conversation.

The ‘bigger’ guy has the most to say which means he or she has the least to learn.  But notice the letters in the word listen and silent.  They are exactly the same, but in a different order:

L I S T E N = S I L E N T

For parents, the world is constantly changing, so it is in your best interest to talk less and listen more.  Your children can teach you some amazing things.

Leaders may find it thought-provoking to hear staff members’ point of view on how things could improve.

While leaders claim employees are their greatest asset, and parents gush about their wonderful kids, both are happy to prove it if you let them.

I’m just saying….


Have a great week!


Tina Nocera,Founder

Parental Wisdom®


No apology needed if you skip the behavior

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

There were two incidents in the news that should cause us to stop and ask an important question; if we judge the degree of civilization of a society by the way it treats its weakest members, then how do we measure up?  

Those incidents involved the two weakest members in our society; the young and the old. 

The Young -The Sandusky trial ended this week with a conviction on 45 of 48 criminal counts related to the alleged assault of 10 boys over a 15-year period.  In an earlier blog, I wrote, Do We Need Laws to Protect our Children?  Sandusky will get life sentence; just like his victims.

The OldKaren Klein was a bus lady mercilessly taunted by seventh grade boys. 

There was a public outcry on both issues; now come the public apologies.

When are we going to learn that it is better to stop bad behavior in its tracks? Why were there so many Sandusky victims?  What was legally done was not enough.  Were there no students on the bus that could stand up for the bus lady?

Between the young and old are the rest of us, and we are expected to do the right thing, right away.  

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®



Sunday, January 31st, 2010

From Dr. Vicki Panaccione

Kids are being bombarded with disasters on a regular basis. Whether it’s war, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, terrorist bombings and now the earthquake in Haiti, it seems that there is always something horrific happening in the world. And, as you find it difficult to process what’s going on around us, imagine what your kids are experiencing.

There is exposure everywhere…on TV, radio, newspapers, internet and in the classrooms. So, the question becomes: What do I tell my kids? Kids will react differently and harbor different concerns depending upon their own developmental stage, temperament and personality. Understanding your own kids’ mindset will help you decide how much to say and what to do. Obviously, different age kids will require different depths of information.

  • Toddlers do not understand what’s going on. You may tend to project your feelings onto them and be concerned about their feelings. However, they are oblivious, unless they feel emotional cues from you. If mommy or daddy appears to be frightened, grief-stricken or overly-emotional, toddlers may temporarily appear that way as well, because you are upset.
  • Preschoolers are able to understand the basics of what is occurring, yet don’t really have emotional connections to the events. Again, they tend to pick up your emotional cues. So, avoid displays of fear and grief in front of them, and they won’t feel any effect of the tragedy.
  • School-aged kids do begin to understand and are more likely to be exposed to the events. They may become anxious, experiencing fears of personal safety. These youngsters want to know, “Can this happen here?” “What will happen to me?” Provide lots of reassurance. If you don’t live in an earthquake zone, the possibility can be easily negated. If, however, you do live in an area of earthquake possibility, explanations can be made about the preparedness of the city, the better construction of the buildings, etc. Don’t tell your kids that it can’t happen, if indeed, the possibility exists. Let them know how you are prepared, and discuss plans for evacuation, etc. • Older kids may struggle with the spiritual and humanitarian issues, dealing with the loss of human life and the confusion of their God allowing this to happen. These kids need to be allowed to vent, and listened to…just listen. Allow them to have their feelings, even if it’s anger toward their God. It is fine to share your similar concerns, and discuss ways that you can be of service to the people in distress.

Here are some ways to help:

  • First of all, remain calm. Remember your reactions will be signals to your kids. Take care of your own needs, so that you can be more available to tend to your kids’ needs. • Keep news exposure to a minimum. While it’s tempting to stay transfixed to the TV, kids do not need to be bombarded with the gory details and horrific photos. This will help prevent emotional overload. However, don’t stick your head in the sand…kids are being exposed to the story almost everywhere.
  • Give your kids current information in language they can understand to alleviate misinterpretations. Do not try to shelter younger kids; they are picking up information and/or sensing parental concerns. However, answer their questions without elaboration. Don’t overload them with information beyond their emotional level to process.
  • Allow your kids to join in discussions and encourage questions and expressions of opinion. If they are watching TV or reading the news, help them process incoming information by discussing and “debriefing.” Ask questions and explore kids’ understanding and perspective.
  • Attend not only to their questions, but also to their behavior. Kids cannot always identify their stressors or relate their behavior to a particular stressor. Be aware of any significant change in behavior or personality, increase in somatic complaints (headaches, stomachaches, etc.), nervous habits, crying, nightmares, excessive clinging, etc.
  • Anticipate some regressive or acting-out behaviors; do not be overly concerned or critical. Recognize them as possible signs of stress. Some kids may display younger behaviors such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, tantrums. Academic performance may suffer; withdrawal from social activities may be noted. Provide reassurance and unconditional love.
  • Allay fears. Be sure kids know they are safe. Use visual aids (i.e.-globe, map) to convey the distance between your kids and the disaster. If there are family members away from home, be sure that their locations are noted, as well. • Allow time for play. Play is one of the most important channels kids have for dealing with stress and mastering their anxieties. Taking the role of an aggressor increases their feelings of control over their world. Younger kids may also find it easier to express their feelings through drawings.
  • Give your kids lots of physical affection. Allow them to be more dependent upon you during this time of stress. Kids need comfort and reassurance even more when stressed.
  • Encourage your kids to get involved. Taking action can alleviate feelings of helplessness and anger. Participation can range from praying, sending care packages, donating money, clothes and toiletries to the Red Cross. Find out what your local religious institution or community is doing to help with the recovery and get involved.
  • Seek professional help. If you see your kids becoming overly anxious, or behaviorally affected, and are at a loss as to how to deal with these issues, call your pediatrician or seek the services of a child psychologist.

Dr. Vicki is available to answer your personal questions regarding this matter. Contact her through:

Today – modern villages are needed to raise a child

Saturday, March 21st, 2009


Not too long ago, I was presenting a parenting seminar at a local mom’s group. At the end of the discussion a very pretty and very pregnant mom raised her hand. “Does it get any easier?” In unison, all the moms in the room said, “Yes!”

It turned out this teary, exhausted mom was two weeks away from having her fourth child and busy caring for her five-year-old, three-year old, and 18-month old children, with no help.

I knew this community, and interestingly part of the town’s name was ‘the village’ so helping was second nature to them. Going out on a limb, I asked this mom if she had ever been on the ‘giving’ side. She nodded and explained how she had run a program at church that helped members in need.

Why is it easy to help others, yet difficult to ask for help?

As the African proverb suggests, it does take a village to raise a child. Today’s villages use modern tools such as Google Calendar. Volunteers sign up to make meals, coordinate trips to doctors and guarantee sufficient coverage. For families dealing with family illnesses, or financial struggles the situations are tough, but not insurmountable. They are in temporary need of help and fortunately, people rally to their aid.

Other families that need help are high profile such as ‘Jon and Kate plus 8’ and next we’ll meet The Hayes Family on TLC’s ‘Table for Twelve’ but because collectively, we like these families, they get help from sponsor companies providing vans, homes, diapers, juice, clothes, etc.

Compare that to Octomom, where simple math meets complex issues.

The simple math is:
• 0 job for the sole breadwinner
• 1 single mother
• 6 siblings
• 8 newborns
• 14 children in total
• 15 minutes of fame

The complex issues are:
• Should someone lacking the financial means have 14 children?
• Who was a right to say how many children someone can have?
• Should a potentially dangerous medical situation be allowed?
• What about everyone else who would love to have more children, but feels financially restricted have to pay for someone else’s decision to have 14 children?
• When and how often should a child advocacy agency step in to check on the care the children are getting?
• Who are we to judge?

For now, I hope the surrounding community and sponsor companies help, despite the fact that Nadya Suleman is hardly an ideal spokesperson. It’s not about her; it’s about the babies, and their needed care. Much like a teenage pregnancy, the situation is not ideal.

The controversy and questions will go on, and babies will do what they always do, grow and thrive while the adults are busy talking. We have to realize even though we seriously question her state of mind, and her ability to handle this tremendously difficult situation, she is after all, their mother.

Be kind for everyone you meet if fighting a hard battle. – Plato

Who’s to say when you should mind your own business

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

While in a PG13 rated movie splattered with gratuitous violence, you witness a parent slapping a toddler knowing full well the toddler is smart enough to know he shouldn’t even be watching the movie.

While parking your car in a Dunkin’ Donuts lot, you see two young children with the window opened just a crack as their mom stands on the long line for coffee.

Selfish parenting, child abuse and neglect is not only about broken bones, bruises and abandonment. With the publicity surrounding the Texas polygamist-sect kids, one has to wonder exactly what does constitute a reason to step in.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered “legally and factually insufficient” grounds for the “extreme” measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.

The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.

Think about the everyday situations you encounter where you aren’t certain if you should say something with the slight chance your response will be met positively; far more likely that you will be told to mind your own business.

The question is when is it our business? If the courts can’t figure it out – how can we?

Your thoughts? Please leave a comment, I’m really interested in what you have to say.