Why Empathy Matters

Why Empathy Matters

I often think of the faces and stories of teenagers that I get to work with every week.

Their pain is real. Their success changes lives. Their questions are relevant. Their stories change my perspective.

You may be asking yourself, “How deep can you really go with teenagers when you only see them once a week for an hour? Do they actually share? What could they be dealing with that could rival adult problems?”

You would be shocked.

I can learn more about a teen in a one-hour Support Group meeting than many people can find out over months.

How is this possible?

Empathy.

Empathy makes all the difference in the world. In these Support Groups, we are not asking questions because we want to be nosy, tell them what they are doing wrong, or even fix their lives. We ask questions because we want to step into life with them, even when it’s hard and there is no easy fix in sight.

I absolutely love this Brené Brown video. She expertly describes the difference between empathy and sympathy while revealing the power of showing true empathy in difficult circumstances.

 

 

When you watch the video, you can see that empathy is a powerful tool, especially when dealing with teenagers.

Just this year alone, I have had teenagers tell me about:

  • Broken home lives where they are forced to choose who they want to live with.
  • Families who encourage drug use while they are trying to stay clean.
  • Fathers who bring their mistress into the home while mom tries to keep the family together.
  • 30-hour work weeks to help the family pay medical bills.
  • A fear of graduation because that is when they will be kicked out of their house.
  • Extreme racism and name calling in a work environment.

Do I have the answers to these problems? Can I come up with magic words to make the hurt go away?

Absolutely not!

But I can listen. I can tell them that I am so sorry they are having to deal with such difficult life circumstances. I can sit in a chair beside them and step into their world for an hour a week. I can give them a safe, judgement-free zone to talk about their lives and problems.

I can empathize.

I encourage you to try some of the tactics mentioned in the video and to avoid phrases like “at least.” Step into a teenager’s shoes, crawl down into the pit with them, and show that someone cares and wants to listen.

For us to continue to provide these Support Groups and show empathy, we depend on donors like you.

You can donate, pray, volunteer or simply share our content with a friend!

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
Heather & Jade Talk Teen Pregnancy

Heather & Jade Talk Teen Pregnancy

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YouTube

Two stories of teen pregnancy converge

In this re-edited interview from 2016, Chris and Karlie are joined by Heather and Jade to talk about their stories both separately and as they intertwine.

As a young teen mom, Jade was connected with Heather, who offered her much-needed support and encouragement. Heather was able to provide hope and a new perspective through the lens of her own teen pregnancy.

Even 7 years after this interview, it remained one of our top-played episodes.

You won’t want to miss this timeless wisdom on the joys and challenges of teen parenthood.

In this episode, you’ll find out…

  • Two different stories about teen pregnancy and parenthood.
  • Ways to support and encourage teen parents.
  • What it is like to be a teen parent while trying to finish school.
  • The importance of mentors and friends in the life of a teen parent.

Ask yourself…

  • Have I sat down and asked someone else’s story lately?
  • How can I better support and encourage a teen parent?
  • Who has made a difference in my own life?

Go ask a teen…

  • Who has supported you the most?
  • What is the biggest joy of being a parent?
  • How can I help support and encourage you?
Advice for teen parents:
  • Get counseling or therapy if you need it.
  • Stay in school!
  • You can do it! There is support out there for you.
  • Your best is good enough.

For people supporting teen parents:
  • Offer to help, and keep offering even when they say no!
  • Be inclusive when you can. It is hard for teen moms to find where they fit and belong.
  • Show up!
  • Let them vent without telling them what to do.
  • Be vulnerable and let them know that you genuinely care about them.

Heather and Jade at our podcast recording to talk about teen pregnancy

Resources for teenage parents:

  • If you or someone you know is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, Pregnancy Help 4 U can help.
  • If you are someone who works with student-aged parents, reach out to program@teenlife.ngo for more information about our Support Group Curriculum designed for teen parents!
  • Original music by Luke Cabrera and Tobin Hodges.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Heather Gradke

Heather Gradke

Special Guest

Jade Rains

Jade Rains

Special Guest

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Ep. 18: Suicide & The Olympics

Ep. 18: Suicide & The Olympics

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Summary:
Teen suicides are on the rise, but do you know the warning signs? Chris and Karlie discuss signs to watch for and strategies for helping prevent someone from taking their life. Also in this episode, are you familiar with the teen olympians competing in the 2020 Olympics? Get the rundown on an impressive group of teenagers to inspire and impress.

Teen Life Summit sessions are no longer available.

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us

Ep. 13: Teen Driving & YouTube

Ep. 13: Teen Driving & YouTube

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Summary:
How old were you when you got your driver’s license? Odds are that you were younger than today’s newbie drivers. In this episode, join Chris and Karlie as they dive into driving and Gen Z. They also take a closer look at the darker side of YouTube and how it’s probably affecting you and your teen.

Teen Life Summit sessions are no longer available.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us

Ep. 9: Affirmation & Omegle

Ep. 9: Affirmation & Omegle

 Listen & Subscribe

 

Summary:
Learning to affirm others’ worth is a habit that can change the world. Chris and Karlie share tips on positive affirmations for teens, as well as take a critical look at the website Omegle.

Teen Life Summit sessions are no longer available.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us